Those Were Different Days

Wow, those were different days…


When the stores still had stuff on the shelves. 


And you could go in without waiting outside for half an hour for social distancing. 

With everyone wearing protective masks and obsessively washing their hands, so please G-d not to get sick. 


Then we were happy!


Now we are all just scared. 


Even if some people are pretending they aren’t.  


It’s more what we still don’t know then what we do. 


And how things can unravel so quickly.


Makes us all appreciate what we had, and hopefully what we’ll have again. 


Shabbat Shalom!  😉


( Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Give Me That Fridge Handle

So we got a new stainless refrigerator. 


A cause for celebration!


It get’s delivered and afterwards, I notice that the door handles are installed unevenly. 


I call the store and they agree to send their guys out to us again to fix it. 


Well, the handles were on the wrong doors and they switch it so that now they look even, but in the process, they break the handle on one of the doors so that only the top is attached to the door and the bottom is blowing in the wind (and ready to scratch the door). 


With this second installation debacle, I call the store again and not a happy camper!


Three calls later, the store agrees for me to come over and literally take the handle of the fridge on the showroom floor to replace my broken one–which I promptly did!


Third times the charm…no more broken door handle. 


As for the one in the store, let’s just say you can only open the left door for now.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Square Watermelons

I thought this was pretty novel. 


A square watermelon. 


Why do you need a square watermelon?


It was created to make transportation easier and to fit on the tight shelves of small stores in Japan. 


How do you make a round/oval watermelon square?


Why of course, you put a box around it while it’s still small and on the vine. 


Ah, I think they broke the mold on this innovative idea.  LOL


The problem is that that because they are harvested before they are ripe, they are inedible. 


So the Japanese use them for decorations, and they can last about a year. 


They are so unique, they cost roughly $100 for one. 


Why be square, when you can be round? 😉


(Credit Photo: Defense Acquisition University)

Card Ya

Thought this was novel in the store. 


They have a digital calendar with the date from 21 years ago.


It says:

To Purchase Tobacco Products You Must Have Been Born On Or Before This Date.

 Thank you for showing you I.D.


Ah, easy to match the DOB on the I.D. presented to the date on the calendar.  


Nothing to calculate, no mistakes. 


They raised the age for smoking (cigarettes and vaping) in Maryland to 21 on October 1, so it’s the same requirement as for drinking alcohol.


Luckily for me (even though I’m over 21), I don’t really do either–definitely not the smoking, and the drinking limited primarily to the Kiddush prayer on Shabbat. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Selling By Customer Stereotypes

Saw this displayed on the wall inside a Free People clothing store…


It categorizes their female shoppers into 4 types:


1. Candy (hearts): Sweet, girly, flirty, whimsy, and femme  


2. Ginger (cherries): Sexy, confident, edgy, attitude, and mysterious


3. Lou (baseball): Cool, tomboy, laid back, tough, minimal


4. Meadow (sunshine): Flowy, bohemian, embellished, pattern, worldly


So this is how they stereotype their customers “to be helpful”?


Interesting also that they don’t see that people can be complex with: multiple traits that cross categories or even in no category at all.


Moreover, people can have different sides to themselves and reflect these in different situations. 


Perhaps in an effort to market and sell more, what they’ve done is reduce people to these lowest common denominator of idiot categories.


And what makes this worse yet is that it seems to be based just on snap judgment of how someone looks coming into the store and all the biases that entails. 


How about we look at people a little more sophisticated than this and treat them as individuals, with real personalities, and not just as another empty label?  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tie Dye Hammock

Loved this tie dye hammock by Enonation (Eno) from Australia that I saw at REI. 

 

It’s called “DoubleNest,” so I guess that means it fits 2 people. 


So open, colorful, and inviting to rest and relax in. 


Sillily, the store only carries the hammock and not the stand…so good luck with that. 


Also REI clumsily filled this gorgeous hammock with Nalgene bottles–on sale 30% off!


Uh, if you make even the nicest stuff look like junk for storage, you’re not gonna get the brand image you want. 


Anyway, the hammock was awesome!  😉


(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)

They Ain’t Nothing

Apple StoreMicrosoft store
So Microsoft has tried to do the copycat thing of the Apple Store. 



See Apple (top photo) streaming with customers trying out their world-class computers and smartphones yesterday. 



See Microsoft (photo underneath) just a few storefronts down in the mall with nice vibrant colors, but just a handful of customers (the non-red shirts) in the entire place.



BTW, I took a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and liked the size (I thought I wouldn’t) and ordered one (will be nice I hope to actually see the screen on this thing). 



At the same time, I tried the Microsoft Surface, and my wife says to me can you videotape me showing how long it takes to actually try to figure this thing out–piece of garbage!



It was also confusing why the Microsoft store was selling Dells and other companies computing devices–Ah, maybe because they don’t have anything competitive of their own???



Microsoft great try with the overall store (Touche!) but you just don’t have the retail products to compete with Apple–and the piles of Xbox in the rear of the store to draw people in–that wasn’t working either. 



Microsoft still a winner at enterprise computing, but Apple hands-down has you on personal computing–everyone to their corners. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Apple Store “Heaven”

Apple_store

The Apple Store is always packed with people–it’s like they are just camped out there, permanently.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (15 June 2011), the Apple stores are an unbelievable success story:
1) The 326 stores sold about $11.7 billion worth of merchandise in 2010, and have an estimated 26.9% profit margin–compared with about 1% margin for Best Buy before taxes. 
2) They led with sales per square foot of over $4,406–higher than Tiffany at $3,070,, Coach at $1,776, and Best Buy at $880
3) More people now visit Apple’s stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Disney’s 4 biggest theme parks last year.
And people are not just “window shopping,” but people are actively engaged trying out, testing, experimenting with the latest Apple products sitting out on the display desks.
Of course, there are also lots of sales people in their bright red Apple shirts ready to help, answer questions, and even sell you something. 
Apple’s stated “sales” philosophy–“not to sell, but rather to help customer solve problems.”  
Thus, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas–that’s definitely pretty novel!  (The exception is that “employees must sell services packages with devices”–I’ve always been a little leery of those, thinking why do I need the service package if the product is supposedly such high quality to begin with?)
Apple focuses their team on customer service, and their 20007 training manual uses the APPLE acronym as follows:
A–“Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome”
P–“Probe politely to understand all the customer needs”
P--“Present a solution for the customer to take home today”
L–“Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns”
E–“End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return”
I sort of like it–no where does it say to sell, up-sell, cross-sell the customer, but rather it’s much more about services and solutions. 
At checkout, the salespeople can ring you up from where ever you happen to be in the store on iPod touches with credit card readers. 
And trouble shooting Apple products is done at the “Genius Bar”–something like the Geek Squad on steroids. This is where things start to get a little weird, since Apple only pays their geniuses something like $30 an hour, so but for the love of Apple, what are they doing there?
Overall though, I think the whole store experience is pretty ingenious: from “the clutter free look using natural materials like wood, glass, stone, and stainless steel” to the large image color displays of the products dotting the walls, the stores are inviting, hip, and you know when you walk out with a product, it’ll be plug and play, immediately functional, and extremely sleek to match. 
J.C. Penny made a brilliant move announcing the hiring of Ron Johnson as their new CEO, effective November–Ron is the brains behind the Apple store design.  If Ron can Apple-fy the Penny stores, wow wow wow, but that this is not a sure thing, since Apple products are cool and sort of sell themselves anyway–they just needed the right ambience.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)