bookstores. record stores. arcades.

they’re all dying businesses. with the advent of digital, many have been forced to close their doors for good and shut down shop. with a kindle and access to millions of books all able to be downloaded instantly from almost anywhere in the world, why would you ever visit a bricks and mortar store?

in an innovation and entrepreneurship class i’m currently taking, a recent lecture talked about selecting the proper industry for your new venture. in that discussion, all of the above were mentioned as bad industries which you’d want to avoid. frankly—for a course on innovation—i think the professor missed the mark.

why would you ever?

that’s the key question to ask.

what would make people want to go to a bookstore again? what would drive people to visit record stores? or spend a day hanging out in an arcade? why would you ever go to any of these places again?

focus on that. make your bookstore or record shop or arcade truly remarkable—something that people can’t help but remark about. collect and sell (or barter) the oldest books and first copies of literary classics that you can get your hands on. find local authors and spotlight their work.

don’t just sell music, make it as well. provide lessons and help budding artists create their own music. hold small, intimate concerts with local bands in your store. give people a place to experience music and not just buy it.

purchase a fleet of game consoles and massive, high-end, high-definition televisions and network them all together. always buy the newest titles on launch day or, perhaps better yet, let people bring their own games. charge a monthly subscription fee for renting the 60 inch televisions and high-end 7.1 surround sound headsets you provide. host game servers and hold your own private tournaments with entry fees and a chance to win that next generation console.

the problem isn’t that these older industries and businesses are dying out. the problem is that so many people fail to see all the many ways they can be good again. you just have to ponder the right question.