Know your audience

Not long ago I happened to go to a large crafts store for my son’s school supplies. The only time I go to a large crafts store is for school supplies, come to think of it. I distinctly remember a volcano kit.

This time there was merchandise outside on the sidewalk to entice us inside, where we were going anyway. You could see the display from the parking lot, and I suppose I could have been on my way somewhere else and been intrigued by the odd sight of several tables of stuff outside, instead of inside where ordinary retailers unwisely confined their efforts.

I might then actually look at the offerings at close range and be bowled over by the excellence of the items at such agreeable prices. Then I could pick up what I wanted and carry it away. There was no cashier or store employee in sight.

The stuff for sale was pure crap, mostly the cheapest of plastics and all of it ill-conceived, poorly made, and under a dollar, a waste of resources and people. So the management decided that they’d sell enough extra crap to make the investment in staff time to take it out and set it up and take it back in later worthwhile. Did they figure in theft? Do you suppose people who want crap are exceptionally honest? It wouldn’t surprise me.

I’ve never seen a liquor store put merchandise outside on display like that. I think a display of booze outside would get my attention, though I might not buy any. In a Chico liquor store just before Labor Day, there a sign described a package I could buy, including a tube for floating and plenty to drink. I must say that sign did serve to remind me of how Labor Day is a big deal for floating down the Sacramento River while drunk, apparently an extension of Chico State students’ tendencies to get stinko.

A few years ago, before I knew better than to be anywhere nearby on Labor Day, we went through a police checkpoint on Highway 32 coming back into town. The cop glanced at us and waved us on. We probably didn’t fit the profile.

I bet I don’t fit the profile of the customer for that tube package either. Although I think I could like floating down the river, I hear it’s mainly cold, and cold is not a state for which I volunteer. Maybe with a wet suit. Filling the tube with hot air might be worth a try, and with Silly Council elections coming right up, hot air will be plentiful and cheap. I smell synergy.