The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 August 2005

Inside the enclosed retail compounds

I hate to go to the mall, generally: part of this dislike is sheer laziness, and part of it is the nagging of the conscience, budget division, along the lines of "Do you really need this?" There's even some anxiety in the mix. But a growing factor is the increasing tendency of stores to throw gee-whiz stuff at you that does not in any way enhance the shopping experience, as Andrea Harris explains:

What ever happened to thinking of the comfort of the customer as well as enticing his attention and getting him to open his wallet? It's not been in evidence in any retail conglomeration for years now. From the endless aisles in "super" stores where the thing wanted is usually teetering on the top shelf — and there is never an attendant in sight — to the malls with their huge escalators going up into space, their atriums floored with tile slippery from the water from the fancy ten-foot fountain (but also sticky with the spills from the ice cream of thousands of tots whose mothers brought them to scream and run around in the "safe" indoors of the mall, so when you slip and fall in the water spill your ass sticks to the floor where you landed in the ice cream slick), their glass-walled elevators that offer sharp-edged metal railings that are one milimeter out from the wall as "handholds" that you can't grasp without cutting your fingers, and with those walkways on the upper floors across the lower atrium areas that are railed on either side by a couple of narrow, flimsy-looking brass rails and are of course floored by more slippery tile, shopping in America has become less and less of a pleasure and more of an obstacle course, as if to make shoppers pay in more than money for their purchases.

Not to mention the tendency in individual stores to stack unshelved items at the end of the aisle, thereby creating a blind spot the size of a grocery cart, and the now-firmly-established ratio of 2.4 checkout lanes for each actual checkout clerk.

If Amazon.com could deliver fresh vegetables — but let's not get our hopes up.

Posted at 7:29 PM to Common Cents


You can take the brackets off "sight" now -- I've fixed it. ("On site" would have been correct, though.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:38 PM on 7 August 2005

Sounds so familiar. My wife bribed me into going to the mall with her last Saturday afternoon, the first time I had been there since, I think, Christmas shopping season, 2003. It took about 5 minutes to rediscover why I hate the experience. Ordering on-line is so much more pleasurable than on-site. But hey, I might go again in a couple of years.

Posted by: Winston at 5:02 AM on 8 August 2005

What Andrea describes is why I deliberately seek out stores that over-price goods one could find elsewhere. The bulk of the discomforts in the shopping experience are produced by my fellow shoppers, so I shop in stores where only folks wearing clothes they wouldn't want to get ice cream on will go.

Such stores, whose managements know full well why their customers are their customers, will definitely see to the customer's comfort and convenience. One must pay for the privilege, but aren't all things worth having worth paying something for? And besides, isn't it a gas to see a store deploy bouncers to bar the occasional too-affluent mother of screaming, swarming, ice-cream-bearing toddlers from its portals?

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 4:50 PM on 8 August 2005