Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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The curse of shopping

743 words

I planned to write a little sexist post on how people who run into your path as a pedestrian or cyclist without paying any attention or who’ll stop right in the flow of downtown Saturday shopping because they absolutely have to do something vitally important right there – like telling their friend whom they’ve talked to for the past twenty minutes something really important which can’t be done while walking – – how these people are invariable women. Their behaviour just makes shopping even more painful. But as this isn’t actual news and unlikely to change anyway, I’ll go and focus on shopping instead.

Shopping sucks. That’s just the basic fact. How many times did you go shopping and had people actually selling the (non-standard) stuff you were looking for without shoving loads of crap from their marketing freaks in your face at the same time? Those occasions have been rare for me. But that’s no news either but just the bright side of the much beloved capitalism which pushes us from the inconvenient (supermarkets which are identical enough to be monotonous but different enough to make it hard to find things in a new supermarket) to the ridiculous (low-fat mascarpone?!).

What I do find a bit sad in that picture, though, is that all the shops which aren’t completely mass-marked seem to be having a harder and harder time. Like the record store I’m often going to. They’re not particularly good but that’s as good as things get around here and I still like the browsing around. I even like the idea of spending an extra Euro or two on an album just to know you have a proper store with people who might know a bit about the music and who may be able to track down things for you which are hard to get hold of.

But recently I found that they frequently have in the new releases from the beginning (which may just be a bit more obvious around here as the weekday for record releases has been moved to Friday, i.e. close to potential weekend record shopping sprees) and that they have difficulties ordering things which I can’t find in online stores myself. So their advantages are starting to fade away and record companies don’t seem to have an interest to have many small stores. A shame.

A similar thing is happening in the computer market. And by that I mean Apple-centric computer market because I’m not all that interested in the rest. While companies like Dell may get away with just having a cheapo online store, Apple and all their hypey branding exercises should benefit from actually showing the pretty machines. And as far as I can tell, Apple’s efforts of opening their own stores in the U.S., U.K. and Japan are quite successful. They don’t reach many people, though, and it seems rather unlikely that a small place like Göttingen will ever see one of those stores open.

So you’d think that a company like Apple should support local dealers who are willing to ‘show the goods’. But it looks like being a small Apple dealer just sucks. Frequently you hear that they’re the last ones to receive supplies and the prices they have to buy their stock at are too high for them to be competitive. Recently a new Mac-centric store opened here. I pass it on my way back from lunch every day and I am surprised to see people in there all the time. Hope they’re managing to make that work…

But their day-to-day job must be depressing. As this is a student town and many people will qualify for some student discount or another with the AppleStore. And those give you prices the guy there can’t match. He knows that and seems to be fine with it (as he’s also doing the warranty repair thing which Apple products tend to need sooner or later) but it just seems wrong. You have a store there with people who are willing and possibly even competent to do the job and they are forced to accept that you buy the expensive stuff online and hope that it breaks or you want a bag or other accessories to go with it.

And to finish with another really strange/stupid Apple marketing thing… why TF do they write ‘apple.com/de’ as their URL on their German ads? How is that supposed to communicate a sleek, cool or user friendly image?

April 1, 2006, 15:45

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