In this morning’s New York Times I was struck by recent purchase of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field by the Ricketts family from TD Ameritrade fame.

This reminded me of furniture store stories for several reasons. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series for 101 years, Wrigley Field is the second oldest ball park in MLB and the Ricketts family made all of their wealth changing the rules of the stock trading industry. This same juxtaposition is taking place right in front of us in our industry daily.

Opportunity abounds. Our 100 year plus casegoods and textile businesses are dying painfully. New ideas for design, distribution, pricing, etc. are presenting themselves daily. At the same time, the hanger-on-ers continue to hang-on. Old thinking is sucking the life from many.

The Cubs and Wrigley were both owned by the same company, The Tribune Co., which is operating under bankruptcy protection. So is the Los Angeles Times and several other recognizable newspapers. Furniture stores continue to typically spend over one-third of their marketing budgets using this failing delivery vehicle.

Paid content news providers are growing by more than 25% annually. Aggregation websites such as Fark, Boing-Boing, ebaumsworld, CollegeHumor and Digg, and the sheer filtering efficiency of social networks do a pretty good job of separating the wheat from the chaff. Online search is now part of nearly every furniture purchase cycle, reportedly reaching 95% during the last twelve months.

So, who will be the Ricketts family who changes the furniture landscape in the coming years? It will be the folks who laugh out loud when they read quotes like this one by Elbert Hubbard, “Parties who want milk should not seat themselves on a stool in the middle of the field in hope that the cow will back up to them.”

Bob Garfield, Robert Picard, and Greg Stielstra are all making the case that we have entered the post-advertising age. How are you allowing your customer to engage with your company? How are you answering her concerns on her terms? What have you provided as a communications platform to allow her to tell you how you are doing?

At The Lively Merchant we are focused on the future. We won’t waste you money on pie-in-the-sky wild ideas. More importantly we won’t waste you money on nearly worthless newspapers just because it is the way it’s always been done.

I haven’t passed a horse and buggy on the highway recently. Have you?