Life = Growth

Thought this was an interesting photo at REI.


It says behind the cash registers:

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. – Eleanor Roosevelt


The  background has this serene river flow–along with some obvious whitewater. 


But in front of it, the cash register area is hopping crazy and messy.


It’s a contradiction–not unlike life itself which is full of it’s own ups and downs that challenge us routinely. 


Life is where we get the experience that shapes us and strengthens us, as long as it does not break us.  


Life = Growth


Why else would we be here?


G-d is the best teacher. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Black Thursday For Shopaholics

So Black Friday Shopping extravaganza that used to happen the day after Thanksgiving has now turned into Black Thursday mega-shopping on Thanksgiving Thursday.

The huge Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida is open 10 AM to 1 AM!


The mall was packed with people and the deals were pretty fantastic.  


Under Armour was 50% off!


True Religion was buy 1 get 1 free!


Almost every store seemed to be 1/2 price off already reduced prices.


What I liked in this video I took here was the WOW! display around the entire entrance to this Century 21 apparel store.


Watch the whole thing…it is really cool what they did with this frontage real estate for this store. 


Great job on the marketing and very inviting!


So lots of compulsive shopping, but not so much turkey today. 😉


(Source video: Andy Blumenthal)

Dumb Socks

So have you ever gone to the shoe store, but you forgot to wear socks. 


Well, this is what you get to try-on shoes.


These absolutely crappy, thin, brownish wades of disposable nylon socks. 


How completely unappealing–especially piled up like this and looking like they are getting reused again and again. 


The try-on socks look shitty, feel shitty, and don’t help you try-on anything, because they aren’t the same density or texture as regular socks. 


Talk about penny wise and dollar foolish–if the store won’t even invest in a proper pair of socks for their customers, then how much do they value their business? 


How about an intelligent shoe store with a little class that actually has some real pairs of socks for their customers, and when you’re done they send them out to the cleaners or maybe even let you keep the pair if you buy the shoes!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon’s Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 


Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!


For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.


But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 


Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 


Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 


Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 


For a long time, they didn’t even charge sales tax!


It seems people can’t even imagine not having Amazon–where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don’t even want. 


So here is the rub.


Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns–with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 


Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 


Amazon got us all as their slave customers–and we let them and love them for it. 


And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?


I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don’t like that they’ve built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 


Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you…


Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  


Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.


In the end, that is a winning strategy that won’t land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 


Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it’s not product returns that you’ll be for long worrying about. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Valentine’s Day Fashion Wow!

Now, how perfect is this guy’s suit?


I can’t imagine who would make such a thing, but WOW!


This guy is a walking Mr. Charming. 


Forget the sales job in the jewelry store, I would put him right on the “The Bachelor” season whatever. 


Who isn’t going to fall in love with this guy?  

“Matchmaker matchmaker make me a match.
Find me a find.
Catch me a catch.”

Love wins over hate…


Happy Valentine’s Day!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sexuality Sells Sometimes

Sexuality Sells.jpeg

So this was the entranceway to a store in Florida. 


As you can see, the center mannequin is set up sitting in not a very modest way for a lady. 


And worse, there is a little boy mannequin situated right next to her. 


It was funny to see people stop to look at this fake sexual scene.


But no amount of sexuality could sell the junk that the store was pushing. 


So strutting your stuff or showing a little skin–or in this case hard plastic–may get the customer’s attention or even in the store.


However, it certainly doesn’t close the deal, although something else here would be better off shut or as my mother-in-law says, “close your yap!” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Camera Of Life

Watchful Eye.jpeg

So this open-door market has no workers there.

Someone comes in to stock the shelves periodically, and that’s it!

It’s completely automated of workers, and only has this automated kiosk for check-out. 

As you shop, there are cameras watching you, so you don’t steal anything. 

Then you go to the checkout and like in other stores, you scan you items and pay with your credit card, but the difference is that it’s without anyone else around at all.

Can you imagine someone would leave there business and there is no one watching you, except the cameras.

You’re on your honor system. 

Just think how much money the owner saves by not having to stand there or hire someone to stand there all day. 

He can have 10 or 100 or 1,000 of these stores and no daily labor to pay for. 

Talk about people losing their jobs to automation and robotics!

So even if someone does steal 1 or 2 things, it’s a minor loss to the owner compared to paying someone to stand there and check people out all day (salary, benefits, payroll taxes, workers comp insurance, and more). 

What if the camera isn’t even real and it’s just a dark cone, so you are just left to think that you’re being surveilled…another savings for the owner. 

Now imagine if we all internalized this thought in life that we were under the watchful eye of our Maker, and everyone would do the right thing even when no one else was there watching. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Paint Can Art

Paint Cans.jpeg

Thought this was pretty cool art in Anthropologie in Washington, DC.

It was different paint cans attached to the wall in the store in a colorful display. 

To go with this paint theme, they also had paint brushes (dry of course, but they looked wet with colored paint) hanging from the ceiling. 

Anyway, in the back of the store, there was a beautiful new rug that I got for my daughter–it was a real find (and sort of looks like this paint display in terms of colors, but very refined and feminine for her with gorgeous flowers and a rich texture).  

Anyway, she loved it and I ended up getting a pretty good deal on it, so I was happy too. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bodega D.C.

Bodega

This little deli and grocery in downtown D.C. always reminds me of the spanish bodegas back in NYC. 

The smallish store has just a couple of aisles of stuffed shelves of all sort of fast food eatsies. 

Usually not very organized, but more like you see something from all the grab it type foods and drinks and just go for it. 

Signs are handwritten and taped on to shelves, doors, and counters. 

Food packages jut out from shelves into the aisles and frequently get knocked down by customers on to the floors of the narrower aisles. 

Pour your own cup of coffee or softdrink.

Sandwiches in the back are freshly made while you wait and come heaping with toppings and the price written with a black marker on the celaphane wrapping. 

The store is laidback and informal with the proprietor at the counter reading from his newspaper as people come by to check out and he looks up between paragraphs.

Very working class and for students in the area, the lines can get long to the door at lunch hour. 

A little unkept and no place to sit and dawdle–this is a get in and get out little neighborhood store. 

A big contrast with the cookie-cutter chain stores and franchises–this is mom and pop style. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Footsies At Comfort One

Feet

So lately my feet have been hurting me. 


My wife tells me, “Go to Comfort One for new shoes.”


I say, “But I don’t want to go get nerdy shoes there.”


Like in most arguments, my wife wins and in I march, reluctantly, to the store. 


First, they take this scan of my feet (something that looks like the picture above) to show me where my foot is getting pressure (and pain).


Okay, well I already know this, but when you see all the red on the picture, I guess it helps to scare you to getting an expensive new pair of orthopedic-like shoes. 


But first, they sell me on some arch supports that slides into the shoe…they seem to feel pretty good, and in fact, after walking around in them for a little while, I actually miss them when I finally take them off. 


Give me back those darn arch supports, will ya?


Next, we see these amazing Mephisto shoes (with “soft-air technology”)…made in Europe…the salesman says, their built like a tank. 


My wife says, “Oh, my aunt told me to get those too!” We now have a bona fide endorsement. 


I pick up the shoe on display and it look like it is pretty rugged with all the right support for walking around…maybe I got to get over that it looks to me like old people shoes (from Haband). 


Hey, what do you want Andy–to feel good on your feet or to look like your 18 again. 


Okay, I try them on…with the arch supports inserted…and what do you know, I am walking a heck of a lot better.


Well, what about the price…holy crap, I can get 3 pairs of cool shoes at REI for one of these nerdy pairs. 


Oh darn it, I have no choice…I am walking better, especially with the hip surgeries from last year still looming behind me. 


I get the shoes, I get the arches…I pay the money–too much money!


I feel nerdy or so nerdy, but maybe I’m going for the healing power, G-d willing, of a good pair of supportive shoes. 


My wife was right again, and I hate to admit it, but please don’t tell her I said so–it’s bad for her ego and mine. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)