Write On - By Evan Hammonds

While dashing through the mall in an attempt to wrap up the holiday shopping, we witnessed the changing dynamic in American shopping habits. It appears that the concept behind the big department store hasn’t changed all that much in the last few years, so it’s easy to see the continued erosion there at the expense of the unabated growth of online shopping.

Patience, from the consumer standpoint, has been all but extinguished from the shopping experience. Standing in line for even a few minutes gives pause to thinking the same transaction can take place with a few keystrokes on a computer or the tap on an app, with the item appearing on one’s doorstep the next day.

If the department store concept is to stick around even a few more years, the shopping “experience” needs a serious upgrade. It’s obvious to tell the difference between the few full-time employees and those hired as “seasonal help.” That scaling up for the holidays might prove successful in the near term—look at the strength of the U.S. economy—but it doesn’t bode well in the long run. Hands-on service—delivered by knowledgeable salespeople—
appears to be the only way for the old-fashioned stores to survive.

They can only fake it for so long.

You can’t fake it in the horse business, either. And, more often than not, patience is rewarded. That’s the basis of the strength of the BloodHorse brand, be it the print edition, the Daily, or BloodHorse.com. From the top of the masthead to the bottom, our knowledgeable editorial staff delivers hands-on reporting—packaged (designed) by our professional creative services team—and takes the time to do it right. So it’s hard to take one of the key cogs out of the wheel, but that is what we are faced with in 2020.

Lenny Shulman, whose prolific writing has lifted the bar at BloodHorse to new heights, is taking a step back from his day-to-day role as features editor. Thankfully, he’ll stay on to write a pair of features a month for the print edition and will continue to prowl the backstretches at the biggest tracks during our sport’s biggest events. You’ll know he’s there when you hear his signature laugh.

Shulman’s résumé was deep before we found each other. A graduate of Syracuse University, Shulman did stints at newspapers in upstate New York and Tucson, Ariz., and later migrated to Los Angeles where he became an Emmy Award-winning writer for FOX Sports and also wrote for stand-up comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay.

We met Shulman for the first time in the clubhouse at Santa Anita Park for the 2000 Big ’Cap (G1) and became fast friends. Soon after he packed his satchel of one-liners and a minivan full of Labrador retrievers to the thriving metropolis of Nonesuch in Woodford County.

Former editor Ray Paulick thought it would be amusing to toss Shulman in with a bunch of established hardboots and see what would happen. Shulman’s first subject was the late Charlie Nuckols, and instead of butting heads over their obvious clashing backgrounds, they hit it off and were regular pals after a single get-together.

Hundreds of interviews and stories have followed. Shulman is a master storyteller because he has the ability to put his subject instantly at ease with a few inside jokes crafted from the extensive research he conducts before each feature piece. Soon, it becomes a conversation instead of an interview, and Shulman is able to extract nuggets most people are reluctant to share with others.

In Shulman’s tour here in Central Kentucky, his style has allowed him to turn an assignment into a subject into a trusted confidant and later a friend. Few possess that skill.

We’re grateful that heading into 2020 Shulman’s byline will continue to grace the pages of BloodHorse and our web-based products.

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