Monday, January 07, 2008

Ah the joy of shopping

Especially when you're not shopping for anything in particular. A book in WH Smith called "How to Get a Celeb's body" made me contemplate going up to the desk and asking if they had the companion novel "How to Get Rid of a Celeb's body" you know tricks with acid, what shovel to use, decent burial spots - I know very poor taste, but that's how my brain ticks.

Looking at PS3 games I note that despite the six stores competing in that area they've all got pretty much the same prices, which in some cases were higher then Woolworth's in Stourport; so much for January Sales. Likewise the forth season of Blake's Seven is still at around £50, which is where it started at. Spotted the five-disc tin set for Blade Runner at £22, seeing as the two-disc was £17 and I wanted it (only had it on VHS) that was a nice pick-up. A couple of books (alright six) in Waterstones, annoyingly I didn't spot that the only remaining copy of one had a torn corner off the cover and the spine was giving way; fixed the spine and the corner's not a problem so I'm not complaining it's only the second time this has happened to me ever I've just got to check more carefully in future.

Poked my head into a for a laugh and was amazed that they actually had HD televisions hooked up to an HD source and a majority thereof. Watched one sales guy hook up a Blu-Ray player they were trying to flog to an LCD screen (they were also trying to flog) and stick in "Happy Feet"; woah that was some bad movement stutter. I don't know if it was the TV, the film, or the player; slow moving objects no problem, but the intro where the camera pans down over the ice did my head in. When it dropped onto the slow-moving main character it was fine, so long as you didn't look at all the dancing penguins in the background as the camera panned around her/him - bleh.

I noted that the Virgin Megastore had turned into exactly the same shop with a different name that was so memorable I can't even recall it. This reminded me that the Fopp in the Roland Hill centre is now another similar store with another name I can't recall. To clarify that - a store whose name I can't recall reminded me of another store whose name I can't recall in that they may be the same company; everyone clear now?

Games Workshop is still there and say what you like about the stereotypical nerdy maladjusts most people think are into this type of thing, the staff are among the friendliest and most helpful you'll ever meet. Proves the adage that a person doing a job they like will do it well.

On the topic of getting things right the newly revamped HMV (now free of that sawdust smell) has managed to balls-up its payment desk setup. Previously it was simply - a snaking cordoned off queue led to the left of the main payments desk. When a till became free you walked past the other customers to get to it, when your transaction was complete you walked out to the right where the doors where. The only time it didn't work was when you got someone blocking the entire width of the walkway with a buggy.

Now they've separated out the queues for each till and set some shelves between each point, so now not only do you get into the 'slow' queue, but your exit point is back past that same queue then cutting across all the other queues to get back out. "Your previous queueing system was much better" I said, just received a smile in return. Ah well if you don't say anything you just get "well no one's complained"

Got back, just missing the hail storm apparently, and parked in town to grab something from Subway. Damn the town was quiet, I needn't have parked at the first space at the end of York Street I could have pretty much parked anywhere along it. Of course you don't know that and can't see until you've past it all. Ah well I ended up with a foot-long Italian BMT and very nice it was too.


Dan H said...

The new name for Virgin Megastore is "Zavvi". I'll repeat that, because I know you'll forget again: "Zavvi". As for Fopp, it had financial problems and I believe is owned by HMV now. Your comments on names reminds me how amusing I always find it when someone (usually Mum) tells me, "I saw this really clever advert the other day -- I can't remember what it was for -- it had..." If you can't remember what it was advertising, then it can't have been that clever.

As for Games Workshop, I think the fact that the staff in there are always friendly is evidence of it being full of nerdy maladjusts. In normal shops the staff either ignore you as much as possible or trail a few steps behind you repeatedly asking if they can help. But Games Workshop sells to a small but loyal customer base, and treats its customers accordingly. The staff are friendly because it is this friendliness that gets their customers to attend the weekly or monthly tournaments and other meetings held at the shop, which in turn generates more trade and provides a way to recruit new fans. There aren't many high-street shops with that kind of business model, and it requires unique levels of customer service to keep it up. And it works both ways: in most shops, if the assistants offered customers (or their parents) cups of tea while they're there, or chatted to them in a friendly manner, the customers would be really spooked, and wondering what the catch is. But in GW this is expected behaviour, so it makes the shopkeepers more confident about approaching new customers.

FlipC said...

What was it called again? Oh yeah thanks. I first read it as Zowi, which I actually prefer and will no doubt refer to it by that name by accident.

Ah yes those best adverts ever like the gorilla playing drums that was advertising... um um, Cadbury's. See the old brain can still kick up some useless information. The really best ones of course contain a jingle with both name and function "Washing machines live longer with Calgon", "Do the Shake and Vac". Remember the "Venus in furs" advertising a car weren't they... nope

As for GW yeah they do have this strange business model whereby they encourage people to regularly visit their stores and buy stuff from them :-P As for the sit down and a cup of tea spooking customers, whose fault would that be? It's only because we've become inured to store zombies pushing extended warranties on us that we would see such friendliness in a cynical manner.

Dan H said...

Actually, I can think of another group of shops that hold similar events: bookshops. Bookshops often have signings, host book clubs and writers' workshops, and other similar things. By day they may be as zombieish as anyone else, but in the evenings they are cultivating their core market in just the same way as Games Workshop.

As for attributing blame, I don't think it's a one-way street. We as customers want lower prices and convenience, so shops reduce their customer service, and in turn we come to see this as normal. Shops and consumers are co-conspirators, and the further we go down that road, the harder it is for anyone to buck the trend.

Tav said...

This reminds me of my time in California. In the evenings the local gallery held painting sessions (lessons and/or meet-and-greet artists); the library held self-help groups; the pottery shop held pottery classes; the real estate office held tax classes (or something)... It was a hive of activity!

Do you get that here? Well actually in Worcester you do at the Pitt Studio. [Sorry for the plug]

FlipC said...

Okay first of the new shop in Roland Hill is called Impulse and sells DVDs and CDs, so I bought a book there.

As to the bookshops, pottery shops etc. I suppose it's the difference in shopping for utilitarian or pleasure/leisure purposes. Buying something that consciously occupies my time such as a book is different to buying a shirt.

Assigning blame? Sure it's a co-creation, it's the same with whining that our ultra-cheap radio sounds tinny and only lasted for a year before conking out.

Shameless plugging from Tav, honestly I've never been so scandali... oo I like that Roger Lynch example on the exhibitions page.

Invisible said...

I don't really watch TV any more — but over Christmas I did watch a little. JESUS! It's like some kind of BAD ACID TRIP or something! Seriously, where do they FIND these insane ideas?

And yeah, usually I can't remember what the hell they're advertising. But then, I'm weird, so they're probably not aiming at me…

FlipC said...

Thank you - you've just reminded me about Strawberry Shortcake.