Saturday, June 25, 2005

Doing Things the First Time

My Harshaw's rule about not doing things right the first time has another corollary--it takes an extra effort to try new things. That comes up from two things:

1. piece in the Post about a woman of a certain age (50+) trying something new, spurred on by the question: "when was the last day you did something new?" I haven't bothered looking up the link, but it's a good question. I never was an adventure seeker and am less so as I've gotten older. Indeed, my wife and I have a mantra, somewhat self-mocking: "change is bad". I suspect that's true of most people; we seek the comfort of the familiar and have less emotion (less love, less hate, less fervor) prompting us.

2. Safeway's store in the local shopping center. When first designed in the 1960's, the center had a different design than the usual strip shopping mall--a central plaza with the stores around it, hidden from the parking lots. The Safeway store was, I guess, standard-size for the time. The center didn't do well. Over the years there were lots of failed stores. Finally (late 80's maybe?), a new outfit bought the center, got approval to redevelop, entered into long negotiations with Safeway over a new store, bulldozed down all the great trees, tore down all the buildings, and then built new, pretty much the standard 1990 strip mall design with a much larger Safeway. While the overall center seems to do okay, I don't think the new store's been a real success for Safeway--lots of people got into the habit of shopping at the Fox Mill Giant while the store was under construction.

Safeway has recently renovated the store, redoing the floor and lighting, changing the produce area and putting in more little stands and displays. (I believe the Post said they were doing that in lots of their stores, trying to compete with other chains, particularly Whole Foods.)

Anyway, the point (at last) is today is their big day, lots of real bargains, lots of extra people, chances to win up to 300 mini-DVD players, etc. etc. It seems all a plot to get people into the store for the first time. I say "plot", but it's really the standard tactics business uses to introduce new products or new stores. Of course, Tom Cruise may be introducing a new wife to sell a new movie. In any case, it shows how to overcome consumer inertia--appeal to greed.

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