The World of Retail is an ongoing Photo Documentary prompted by the sudden closings, in 2008, of thousands of stores across the U.S., including many of our largest and most iconic. It was a time we now call The Great Recession. Since then I’ve been traveling the country photographing a broad range of retail environments, from our best known chains to single-location stores we affectionately used to call "mom and pop" shops. My goal is to provide a visual and hopefully memorable record of their existence; something for future generations.
Most of us tend to take retail stores for granted. They’re so pervasive and so much a part of our everyday lives and landscapes that we routinely browse or search our favorite shops without considering how a store’s environment got that way. In the years I’ve been working on The World of Retail I've become acutely aware of the enormous effort and ingenuity that’s behind creating, owning and operating in the retail domain day-in and day-out, week after week, month after month, year after year. My sensitivities to the limitless ways merchandise can be displayed and arranged ... the colors, the lighting, the sheer quantity of merchandise that’s for sale ... continue to increase. So, in addition to whatever historical perspective these images might offer, I hope they’ll renew your own appreciation of retail, of the stores you currently frequent as well as the ones you have yet to visit.
It’s important to note that The World of Retail isn’t about shopping per se. It’s not about how, when and why we shop. It’s about where we shop ... about the consumer world we all live in, a world that captivates us during so many of our waking hours. But like the world we call Planet Earth, it’s impossible to see it all and photograph it all, not even in a hundred lifetime, for the faces of retail are as varied and complex as those of its customers.
Regardless of the directions retail selling may take, I hope this collection also serves to honor and praise retail. The more I work on this project, the more I realize I’m creating not only a photographic documentation of retail but also offering a celebration of its incredible diversity, creativity and energy.