The Guilty Party

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Greasing the Wheels of Commerce With Sound

Or tossing a woodwind in the spokes.

"Hello sir! Welcome to The Emporium!"

The perky young woman greeted me as I entered The Emporium of All That Is Really Swell and Desirable.

"Hi," I said, and kept moving. Or at least I tried to. She stepped in front of me and put a large plastic cup in my hand. It was full, almost overflowing, with a darkish, suspicious smelling liquid.

"That's okay," I said, trying to hand back the cup, which she didn't take.

"It's for you," she said, perkily.

"What is it?"

"Our own specially formulated blend," she said, still perkily.

"Of what?" I held the cup up to my nose and sniffed. An almost visible haze of alcohol cleared my sinuses and fogged my vision.

"Prune juice and the finest California whiskey," she said. "Enjoy it while you shop! Compliments of The Emporium!"

"No thanks," I said and tried once again to hand it back. Once again she didn't take it. I looked for a place to set it down, but there were no available flat surfaces.

"It's our exclusive blend," she repeated. "Enjoy it while you shop."

"I don't think so," I said. "I have problems enough remembering what I came for without that double whammy of concentration busters. You take it."

"Oh, I've had a lot already," she said. And I did notice that her eyes were a bit bloodshot, her expression a bit desperate. "This is for you."

"But I don't want it."

"Have a good day," she said. "Come see us again soon!" She took the cup, drank it down, and turned me around to face the door.

"But I haven't done my shopping," I said. Her grip wasn't all that tight, nor her stance all that steady, so it was pretty easy to turn myself back around.

"Welcome to The Emporium!" she said, swaying slightly. In her hand was another cup, just as big and just as full. "This is yours!"

"You mean I can't shop here unless I drink it?"


"Even though I don't want any?"


"And all it will do is make me cranky and have to use the bathroom?"

"That's the deal. We cut out the piped in music at ear splitting, concentration obliterating levels so we had to do something. Hic!"

"No music?"

"Nope. No music."

"And all I have to do is drink this poison?"

"Thas all!"

"It's a deal!" I took the cup.

Anyway, my question of the day is this: Is there any real reason all of our shopping experiences have to be accompanied by a musical soundtrack? A loud one? And often one consisting of selections I do not care for? Do retailers really have some sort of concrete data that tells them this is good for business?

Just wondering.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.


Timberati said...

I recall reading somewhere that, yes, music is supposed to make us want to stay longer and therefore spend more.

Of course, the jolly Xmas music blaring during late August through December 25 in retail establishments is endurable only with earplugs (or better yet--noise canceling headphones).

Timberati said...

Ray's Supermarket here, often plays oldies and I really like that. Occasionally, they play Country and I try to get out of the store ASAP.

plumboz said...

That's just it. I think they are taking a real risk, not implementing any sort of slam dunk Make 'Em Shop More technique. Most stores have a fairly wide cross section of patrons with a fairly wide range of musical taste. Some people simply don't like music at all (sad, but it's a fact). For every person you send into a happy place, merrily humming along with a favorite tune, you risk making another search for the exit.

I particularly dislike the blare when I am shopping with someone. It makes it very difficult to carry on a conversation, just like being in a restaurant that thinks whatever they have chosen to pipe into the room is bound to be more interesting than whatever you and your companion might like to say to each other without yelling.

I used to think that my tinitus was caused by rock concerts and headphone use in my youth. But the tinitus didn't show up until many years after those things were far in the past. What has become more pervasive during that time is the music everywhere you go. And it just keeps getting louder, as if we needed the beat to keep us moving.

I love music, but I want to choose what and where.

Lexi said...

Alan, you've just made me hoot with laughter.

Not so much music here, but I've noticed when trying on clothes that music I like encourages optimism about a garment, while music I dislike will send me out purchaseless.

My favourite shop right now is Primark; incredibly cheap clothes, and that's all.

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.