Saturday, June 03, 2006

It was a day for standing...

I remember a day when everyplace I went had a place for guys to sit and watch football while the wife/girlfriend shopped. This was not one of those days - instead it was chock-full of standing in the heat and waiting.

Went to the Apple store in West county mall to check out the 13" MacBook. The MacBook is terrible - it's satin black instead of a gloss, was heavy for its size, has a 100% flat keyboard which was difficult to use, and will not be the next status symbol no matter how hard they try.

But I did pick up on the experience they're selling:

Despite the hardwood floor and a place full of customers, the place was really quiet. They had partitions that hid things like software, accessories, tech support from the view of the person walking by the store. All you see if you walk by or walk into the front of the store are the new PCs and iPods. All graphics on the walls were iPod, and the iPod pod was set front and center in the store, so that's what they're pushing.

There was a definite Feng Shui feel to the layout - it was very ordered. The layout made sense. I knew where to look for stuff. Over and over again from the salespeople, I heard the same thing: "My friend just got (not bought) one of those, and they've never been happier."

They're selling peace and quiet, order, and happiness. It's pretty much The Gap, applied to technology. (I checked, and there was no The Gap in the mall.)


Then I'm walking along in a Hawaiian shirt with two large shopping bags full of tackle boxes and marked "Dick's", checking out the other shops, and stumbled on a "Sony Style" store. It was dark, full of high energy Japanese guys straight out of "That 80's Show" and pretty much the opposite of the Apple store. Lots of standing, but no one was buying anything.

In what had to be the product of a "Location location" seminar, was a 5ft x 5ft Dell cart, right in front of the Victoria's Secret store. It one of those little carts that just screams "I'm too poor to afford a whole store, and don't trust me because of that." They had some 40" displays and a few Dimensions and Inspiron laptops and a Build-It-Yourself and it ships tomorrow application running on one facing the aisle. More standing.

Went to the REI to checkout GPSes. They had like 30 employees standing around doing nothing, all of whom biked to work, no air conditioning, a sign advertising that they're looking out for the environment by not having AC. I stood there for an hour waiting for one of the employees to get off break.

Went to BMW to get yet another window regulator and a suspension tilt sensor that aims the Xenon headlights, and stood there for 2 hrs in line waiting for Franz to find the parts in the back. I was in line behing the overly-energetic japanese guy from That 80's Show. My parts came to $260, with my 20% BMW Car Club discount already applied (even though I'm not a member). The place seemed to be staffed by 15 attractive 20yr old ladies, and Franz the parts guy.

I needed a hard drive, so I went to CompUSA. It was dark, I frequent the place and still couldn't find what I wanted, the Mac area had all the accessories right up front and looked really trashy, the thing I bought had like 3 rebates I have to send off for, there was one register open with like 10 people in front of me in line. I stood there for like an hour, and when I walked out, I had a headache, felt nauseous, my legs hurt, and it was all I could do to stagger to the car.

Hmm - it's hot, and I must have got overheated and forgotten to eat lunch. I'll stop by Quicktrip and get a slurpee and some Tylenol on the way out of town. 20 minutes later I'm sitting behind the wheel of my BMW, falling asleep from the Tylenol and swerving all over I-44 at like 95MPH. Barely made it back to Rolla.

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