As we travel to many different areas in the “gut” of New Jersey – you can clearly see patterns.

Like almost every area has both distinct shopping districts – and population centers. You could sort of call them “downtowns” in some places, or just commercial areas in others.

Rinse and repeat – area after area after area. The pretty much same core collection of stores, restaurants, food markets, etc.

This shows you the natural “supply and demand” of life in NJ. And how distance plays one of the most important roles.

  • People like convenience – and hate driving. Most folks frequent the places closest to where they live. Heck, they sometimes even choose living quarters based on the proximity to “shopping.”
  • Prepared food usually has to be warm still. It’s the reason every single city has more than one pizza parlor. And why those pizza places rarely deliver further than 10-15 minutes from the restaurant.

If more people were like us, however – there probably wouldn’t be a need for restaurants anywhere.

Supermarkets and restaurants are kind of understandable – but retail?

Food (and fuel and alcohol for that matter) are “staples” in our daily lives. It makes sense to have availability far and wide.

But what about ordinary retail stores? Clothing stores, furniture, etc.? With the exception of other practical stores – for hardware items, etc. – we’re kind of amazed there are such high concentrations of “non-essential” retail outlets.

Especially when most people can easily buy online with little hassle. And free returns!

Does the same “convenience” aspect still apply? For things that we’d only be interested in once or twice a year, we’d be happy to drive 100 miles to the nearest location. Just to not have to see them every 10 miles on the highway.

What does the future of retail look like anyway?

I just wonder how long this thick spread of retail stores will last. With Amazon and other giants consolidating (such as Walmart – where you can practically get everything) – how long with traditional retail continue?

We suppose as long as people still appreciate their local business climate. But the trend is declining – even with non-stop “shop local” events and other mind-numbing promotional efforts.

It certainly doesn’t help those small businesses get squeezed more and more every year. Usually from their own over-controlling local governments. What usually happens is business goes down (or costs more), they raise prices to compensate, then the business gets worse, and so on. Until they close their doors for good.

But perhaps we’re wrong. We surmised the other day about “Your Local World.” These local pockets of retail may very well stay the course for the foreseeable future!

About the author


NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.