Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More real-life tales of the bizarre

Sometimes what's not good for business is what's good for business.

This evening I tried to go to an office supplies store (part of a chain that sponsored a major sports arena in Downtown Los Angeles). Well, I suppose I should concede that I did successfully go to the store. I drove to the shopping center with the store in question (and it was not a particularly large center—the store was the largest of all the shops there, which I believe in marketing terms makes it the "anchor" of the center) and parked directly in front of this store (with an empty space next to my car). I walked from my car to the front door, which opened automatically for me as I approached, and proceeded through it, which, I must admit, qualifies as entering the store. Thus, I did, in fact, go there.

Before I got even three steps inside, I was met by a greeter. I was taken aback slightly, as in all of my trips to office supplies stores I could not recall seeing a youth-impaired person stationed by the door to greet me, so it took me a second to grasp that she was an employee (or at least someone who had acquired a uniform and name tag). While it was good to see Wal-Mart hadn't snatched them all up, it was odd to be greeted as she did me.

She asked me, "Are you sure you want to come in here?"

After looking at her with some befuddlement, I then glanced deeper into the store. All of the check-out aisles had lines of, at a guess, at least 10 people waiting. At 8:20 p.m. On a Wednesday.

This was, in my experience, unusual.

The greeter then explained: "Back to school."

I nodded in acknowledgment, muttered that, in fact, I did not need to buy anything in the store that desperately, and exited the store.

After I returned to my car, it occurred to my that what was most unusual was not that apparently every parent in the neighborhood waited until the night before school was to start to drag their children to the store to stock up on what said children would need (like there's a need for anything on the first day), nor was it the implication that apparently Long Beach Unified was starting school on a Thursday (although I could be misinterpreting her explanation regarding that), but that an employee of the store actively discouraged me from shopping in the store.

And I sincerely appreciated it. In all likelihood, I will return to that store in a few days to acquire what I had in mind to purchase.

Unless, of course, that same woman is there to dissuade me again, in case it's still ridiculously busy.

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