Big box stores make me whimper.
I think I know why. We’ve all got our ways to understand the world. My professor father taught me to read very early, and I must have decided reading was such an efficient system that it ought to work on everything. I was little. Little ones think like that.
I go by shapes and words. Big box stores aren’t friendly environments. This weekend I made an extended foray through Fry‘s (a local, 100% full concentration computer geek store), Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Crate and Barrel. Just saying those names makes me reel and stumble.
Walk into Fry’s. This is what it looks like. At least this was what it looked like once I could finally open my eyes. The problem compounded by relative ignorance of technical terminology.
When I am asked, “Have you found what you are looking for,” how can I know? I am still trying to differentiate rectangles from triangles. All I know is that I am in the land of irregular shapes. I can only tell the sales person, “I am looking for cable, which is tubular, and everything here seems to have been unnaturally made into squares.” The only words I can see mean very little. I know USB. Universal Serial Bus. Otherwise, gibberish. If they hung large graphic representations of the cables within, like those abstractions of people crossing the street, I would maybe be OK. Maybe.
The sign below is made for people like me. Lost in a useless scan for meaning, we catch sight of this sign, and our last flash of neural activity says “Yes! Yes, I can ASK someone! Words are available! Nouns I can make sense of!” We will ignore the fact that the friendly sign appears to be pointing only to another sign.
Next, Best Buy. OK. The boxes’ shapes correspond a little bit to what they contain. The words are bigger. I can walk on in hope. Maybe I’ve made it to Poland.
Then Bed Bath and Beyond. Aha. Scotland. My language will be spoken. Fewer boxes. These shapes I know. Those are things you find in kitchens. See? I’m doing better. The Book of Bed Bath and Beyond I can read.
Crate and Barrel. The traveler finds comfort. They are taking even more things OUT of the boxes. Thank you! Not only can I read, I can take notes. I can perform exigesis. The shopping equivalent of Chicago. And yes, please, I would like a shiny new ice cream scoop. Whether I eat much ice cream or not.
Were I to have wandered a little further into the Stanford Shopping Center, say, to Neiman Marcus, or Wilkes Bashford, I would have come home. No boxes at all. No need for words. I can recognize articles of clothing at first glance, especially when displayed so lovingly on mannequins. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Clearly I lack skills required for 2010. And dwindling fortunes.
Helpful hints? Anyone? How do you shop in large retail outlets? Are there strategies? I can’t shop Frette forever.