Yesterday I mentioned that shopping would provide grist for the mill of my blogs. Today, I got a surprise shopping opportunity.
Jerry and I had made plans for Ryanne's 'early out' from school, but first thing in the morning, Nate let us know that his mother would pick her up from school. Perfect timing! We're taking a cruise soon, and because I live in Bellingham, I don't have many clothes that are suitable for warm weather. Also, we hit the coupon jackpot in a store mailer earlier this week. And to top it off, I was ready to look at the hunting and gathering expedition as an adventure opportunity.
I stalked through the mall-jungle. I briefly noted that most of the stores had evolved into young-women specific species because in the survival of the fittest category, those are at the top of the food chain. Figuring out how to get people to buy things is a major industry that has been studied to pieces, so I won't waste my time rehashing that. But I came up with the evolution analogy while wandering through a gift store, so let me tell you why.
Malls charge high rent to store owners plus a percentage of their sales. Anchor stores like Macy's or Penny’s get rent breaks because they draw customers, but the percentage that smaller stores pay is high. And if the small store doesn't make enough of a pay off, they can be evicted. That is why you rarely see a “mom and pop” shop at the mall.
So I wandered into a gift shop lured by giant green, molded resin frogs connected in a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” formation. I wondered if I could find an amusing yard decoration there. Not quite right, I thought as I moved back into the dragon and (I guess) gauche fairy section. I like fairies, but I don't want any that look like porn with wings. I continued on to a plexiglass display case that had historically inaccurate replicas of sphinxes and pharaohs, onto a sale table of assorted junk, and ended at a pile of various eight by ten fuzzy blanket-throws with pictures of animals on them. I guess they could double as wall hangings- sort of a modern twist on the tapestry idea.
I looked around. The cashier looked willing to help, even hopeful, but knowing that she wouldn't be asked to. No other customers in the place. I wasn't surprised. Even if someone wanted to buy something here, it isn't as though they would get a lot of repeat business. Except at Christmas when it's only the thought that counts. I know the store has been at the mall for years, but unless it is a front for something illegal, no way could it be turning a profit. That was when I realized that in the evolution game, this store was an out-lie-er.
In evolutionary terms, an out-lie-er (and no, I have no idea how that is really spelled, and neither does my spell-check) is an individual in a species that has traits outside the norm, but still manages to survive. A hopeful monster, as Stephen Gould would have said.
After I came up with that idea, I noticed that Radio Shack, although a chain store, was also a Frankenstore. Ditto for Perfume Hut and, well, you get my point. And oops, this is now way too long for a blog. See you next time.
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