Shopping with Direction

I am thoroughly aware that we don’t make as many purchases in a conventional manner.  This conventional method starts with that painful propelling of our bodies, executing step after arduous step, eyes downcast, and mouth scowled in disapproval, gradually reaching beyond our twenty-yard walkways, and entering our, heated seats included, vehicles.  It continues with the ultimate encumbrance, a seatbelt, and the excruciating, carpal tunnel inducing turn of the wrist.  The car starts up, and then you have to sit through *gasp* ten minutes of driving to get to your destination.  After that, the five minutes required to find the item you want is followed by two excruciating minutes with an excessively pleasant cashier or sales person.  A “Have a wonderful day” may even follow this pleasant interaction.  This concludes the “conventional” approach to shopping.

Now that we have acquainted ourselves with this archaic form of purchasing.  Let’s look at the other side of the process.

The people who work in these environments are committed to making the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible, well, most, likely are, I certainly can’t vouch for all.  The experience is designed to generate repeat business by satisfying the customer, and, reminding them that convenience, satisfying an immediate need or want, and a pleasing organic interaction, is worth the few cents or dollar difference over making the purchase online.

So, it is clear that there are trade-offs involved when choosing between conventional shopping, and online purchases.  But there are shoppers who manage a fusion between these two types.  These shoppers are often found shopping in a location, phone actively in use in hand, browsing aisles and competitively shopping the online prices.  This strikes me as rather curious, as the person performs all the above mentioned steps to buy in a conventional fashion, yet likely will not do so.  Apparently, the cost savings must be substantial enough to offset the cost of gas, time spent competitive shopping, and any other random inconveniences.  What if it isn’t?  Isn’t it better to simply purchase the item at a local business, than buy it online?  What if the shopper finds no benefit to this way of shopping for a particular item?  How is the loss of time and money justified?

There may be no exact system for each individual, everyone must choose the best way for them to shop.  While conventional shopping does support the local economy, most businesses do understand that there is an obvious direct competitiveness involved with the goods and services offered online.  People online shopping while in stores is part of the process in the modern shopping experience, and that’s simply the current state of commerce.

Now, what could upset this wonderfully tenuous balance between these different types of shoppers?

There may be one shining example of behavior that absolutely upsets this peace.  This would be the shopper that provides direct negativity to a business.  Now, this isn’t likely to occur as much with online shopping, but rather, with the conventional shopping approach.

I’m specifically highlighting the behavior of asking a business for directions to a competitor.

Does this happen?  Unbelievably, yes, it does.  Is it likely to occur in a situation where the shopper has access to the directions on a phone, or other device, not as much, though the person could still commit this egregious act.

Let me offer you an example.  Shopper A is visiting a Lowe’s location, they can’t seem to find a product that they need, or they simply don’t like the price, does it seem reasonable for that person to approach an associate and ask for directions to Home Depot?

What about the person shopping at GNC, who doesn’t care for the service they receive, or the non-acceptance of a particular coupon, do they say “Where is the nearest Vitamin Shoppe?”

When checking out, does the person at Weis say “I couldn’t find (insert particular product) here, could you point me to a Giant grocery store?”

Maybe a person is shopping for an item at Advance Auto Parts, if the store is out of stock, is it remotely reasonable to say “I don’t want to order xxxx item, how ’bout you tell me where AutoZone is?”

It could be that an individual gets a quote at a Meineke shop, and says “Eh, I don’t know, maybe you could direct me to a Pep Boys?”

Or, at a Mountz jewelers, “I’m not sure about the price on this pair of earrings, is there a Kay jewelers nearby?”

Perhaps, this shopper is looking at stereo equipment at Walmart, but they want to see something different.  Does this person say to the attentive salesperson “Do you know where a Best Buy is around here?”

All of these examples serve to highlight a particularly aggravating, and inconsiderate type of shopper.  Is it truly offering good customer service by providing directions to a competitive business?  My contention is that it is actually decidedly rude on the shoppers part to request such information.  In this particular situation, the old adage “The customer is always right!” is actually, quite wrong.

The shopper requesting the location of a competitor can courteously be shown a phone book, a computer to look it up themselves, or reasonably, the way to the parking lot.  Asking the location of a directly competitive business equates to, a financial slap in the face.

Yet sadly, as many businesses can likely attest, this, and likely many other preposterous types of behavior, happen quite frequently.

Support your local businesses, shop like a decent person, and please, enjoy your holidays for what they are, a time to give, receive, and to be a caring, considerate individual to friends, family, and strangers alike.

Humbly yours,




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