Back in "the day" it seemed there was a gas station on every corner. They either evolved into all-purpose stores, competing with groceries and fast food standalones or they went out of business. There aren't as many as before and the ones in existence take a quarter of a block of space. Wow.
But, many of the former gas station spaces ended up having the costly process of tank removable being performed by the only type of business which could figure out they had money to burn, albeit yours and mine - banks. So now many of the corners have banks.
Replacing other defunct operations and taking up huge blocks of space, preferring the ever-popular corner location, is the drug store. This is the latest wave of businesses replicating when we're not looking. We see the birth of a Walgreen's and know a CVS will grow across the corner soon.
The squeeze is on again, for corner space. The marketing researchers who track the competition are active. It's not uncommon to see a decent structure be ripped down to make way for a look alike.
Every town used to be different, have its own character, vitality. We lost that when franchises entered our business vocabularies. Then we heard remarks similar to "Every town looks the same..." which couldn't be argued against. Now we live in a country where section A in town looks just like section B or C.
I miss the old way, where a person walked to the corner for bread and milk, or the mechanic on duty checked your oil and wiped your car windows and let you watch while he changed a tire, or you knew you could deposit a few dollars in your "Christmas" account and the bank people knew your name and smiled as you completed your transaction.
Sure, all of them knew that they were aiding you in becoming a better and perhaps lifetime customer. But I also believe before they had those thoughts they were genuinely pleased and personally interested in each person who appeared before them. They dealt one-with-one, not one-to-one. It was different. And, in this case, different was better.
Pay attention to your customers. Smiles are free. Even over the phone your clients will see your smile when you offer it.