Consolidation - Not Unique to Telecom - Filene's Sold

This is a short, semi-sentimental posting, but it connects to telecom in a small way. I just read today that the Filene's department store - currently owned by giant Federated Department Stores - is being sold to a real estate trust. Any New Englander knows all about Filene's, and their Filene's Basement has been an institution forever, setting the tone for all the factory outlet/off-price stores that have become so commonplace now. I also understand that Marshall Fields is going the same route, and that store has the same significance for anyone living in the Chicago area.

Canada has gone through a similar purging of old-line department store names upon which our retail sector has been built for many generations - Eatons, Simpsons and now the Bay. Not much left up here any more in terms of home-grown retailers, which is really too bad.

A lot of this speaks to the passing of an era where the local general department store was the dominant form of retail - and so much more. This type of consolidation is happening of course in the telecom sector - and other industries - and it makes you wonder what the fate of our old-line RBOCs will be. Clearly, they have to re-invent themselves - in ways that Filene's and Marshall Fields could not.

The markets are very different of course, but in both cases, where choices exist, consumers vote with their feet and their wallets. Much of what works in retail works in telecom - convenience, quality, ease of doing business, choice, customer service, etc. I'd like to think that the RBOC strategy guys are smart enough to look outside their industry to see how the big players adapt in other sectors. I sure would be.