Quick Hits – Why brick and mortar retail is dying – part 936

My wife and I decided we were becoming too reliant on Amazon for all the shit we buy. So, rather than send those dollars out into the Net-osphere, we thought we’d make an effort to patronize more local stores.

The first one on my list was Vitamin Shoppe in the Geneva Commons.

Though this certainly wasn’t their fault, I forgot what driving through that mall was like. When did white folks forget how to drive? Yikes! Squirrels, pinball machines and Donald Trump are more predictable than some of y’all in a mall.

My point being, I could’ve avoided all that hassle by simply turning to the keyboard.

To be fair, the folks at Vitamin Shop are pretty good about paying attention to their customers, but I knew exactly where to find the B-12 so that wasn’t an issue – yet.

Having acquired the object of my affection, I headed up to the register to wait behind a couple who were discussing the efficacy of certain supplements. No problem! That only took two minutes.

But once they were good to go, the manager started selling them their new imitation Amazon initiative by which the customer could have their oft-used supplements shipped directly to them on a regular basis for a minor discount.

That discussion lasted five minutes, with the manager throwing in a couple of “I’ll be right with you sirs” in my direction. When the customers finally bit, I had to stand there for another two minutes while the manager signed them up.

Making the mistake of thinking it was finally my turn, the trio launched into a pleasant conversation on how another supplement caused them all sorts of stomach and gastro-intestinal problems. Figuring their collective sex lives would be the next topic, I set the B12 on the counter and silently walked out.

It’s not that I don’t listening to folks describe their dysentery, but the real issue was standing there for 10 minutes with nothing to show for it. Two minutes in, the manager should’ve said, “Please let me check this gentleman out and we’ll continue our conversation.”

Alright, alright! We both know I’m not a “gentleman,” but she didn’t know that.

But the manager didn’t provide that simple courtesy, because if she did, she wouldn’t have be able to pitch that automatic Net refill service, which I wasn’t at all interested in, because it would’ve violated my new shopping local prime directive.

After all, ain’t that the kind of business model that would put the local store out of business?

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I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I won’t be back to Vitamin Shoppe on the following grounds:

1. When there are only four customers to two employees, that’s a pretty good ratio. I don’t expect to have to wait 15 minutes to check out. It would’ve taken me a scant two minutes at Amazon and they’d have to me in two days or less.

2. Until you all learn how to drive, I would prefer to avoid the Geneva Commons. It took me five minutes to get to the store which was 4 minutes and 50 seconds longer than going online would’ve taken.

3. But this is what really frosts my cookies! I refuse to patronize any enterprise that considers my appearance as nothing more than an opportunity to drain my wallet. Unless I ask a specific question regarding a specific product, I will not go to any store just to be sold all kinds of shit. That’s why I have a no-soliciting sign on my front door.

The reason I no longer darken Best Buy’s door is the lone checkout clerk would be trying to sell magazine subscriptions with a line 10 customers long.

I don’t really like being solicited for charitable donations while I’m tapped at a cash register, either.

I simply want to shop at a local store in the hope they haven’t rearranged everything for the 30th time this month, quickly find what I’m looking for, and move on to my next destination. If we have a pleasant sales clerk/customer interaction, that’s a bonus.

Is that really too much to ask?

You’d think that, considering the retail havoc entities like Amazon have wreaked, these folks would be grateful to see your gleaming visage, not try to make up last month’s profit decline on you alone.

It’s not just Vitamin Shoppe, either! You can’t get out of some stores without going through the equivalent of a high school trigonometry final exam.

I love the Walgreens at Bricher and Route 38, because I’ve developed relationships with some of the staff (hi Michelle!). But the number of buttons you have to push to collect a simple blood pressure prescription is nuts. (Its’ hard to believe I have high blood pressure, right?)

Sometimes I leave the store convinced I just developed tendonitis in my right index finger.

I’m kinda of fond of Meijer too, but in an oxymoronic irony, their automated checkout lanes – an abomination in and of itself – won’t let you go without asking if your shopping trip was “highly satisfactory.”

First, much like Steven Colbert asked guests if George W. Bush was a great, or the greatest president, the credit card screen provides no opportunity to say it sucked. You can only answer “no.” And second, my shopping trip was actually pretty good until you asked me that fucking question.

I know you can ignore it, but I’m tired of the constant imposition that brick and mortar retailers thrust upon their dwindling customer base.

Don’t get me started on what comedian Bill Burr calls “those fucky fuck cards,” either. If you want to save me money, then save me money. That’ll be good enough to get me to back.

And now gas station pumps force you to enter your Zip code, too! “But sir! That’s to prevent credit card fraud.” No it isn’t! It’s just a ruse to get free marketing data.

So, in conclusion, this is my gratis advice to local retailers:

1. Please don’t make me press so many bleepin’ buttons to get out of your store that it feels like I’m disarming the kind of failsafe device that would obliterate the Tri-Cities upon the slightest error.

2. No more loyalty cards or similar programs. Just save me money and I’ll be good with even mediocre service.

3. No more Zip codes and car wash questions at gas pumps. If I want a wash, You’ll be the first to know.

4. And most of all, no more sales clerks going all Willy Loman on me.

You’re welcome! Cause after less than one month of going back to local stores, I’m going back to the Net.

 

10 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Why brick and mortar retail is dying – part 936

  1. As a 35 year retailer myself, I can assure you that many of your sentiments are shared by a growing number of consumers. I have sat with C-level executives in 3 Fortune 500 companies that never seemed to grasp some of the very basic observations you made in this article. They tried to squeeze nickels while losing dollars. They raised prices and cut labor costs while losing market share. The retail concept is imploding on itself and more consumers are migrating to online solutions than ever before and these trends are not slowing down anytime soon. The pick up service being offered now in Big Box still does not provide the quick and convenient solution most consumers crave. They continue to prove incapable of seeing the forest through the trees.

  2. Your wait at the Vitamin Shoppe reminds me of my attempt to buy a six-pack at a local liquor store about fifteen years ago, while some twerp was playing the Lotto twenty different ways.

    Standing in line with three others while this idiot hijacked the cashier, I finally put the beer back in the cooler and walked out of the place, never to return.

    Another small, locally-owned store loses another customer.

  3. Let’s spread the idiocy to the customers, also. Why do people with a shopping cart full of food insist on going thru the self-checkout lanes? And then wave for help when they can’t figure out how to get the correct price for produce? Of course, the ultimate blame goes to the store owner for not stationing a low-level employee in the area to direct these morons to a different lane. Which is why Amazon, Wal-Mart and even Target are now offering same-day delivery of groceries. 5 years from now, a topic of conversation will be “remember Jewel?”

  4. Besides price, selection and convenience, maybe another reason for the rise of online shopping and fall of physical retail is because most of us are secretly antisocial? Heh.

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