Yesterday, I stood in line at the cashiers in Best Buy, patiently waiting while winding my way past the Best Buy version of “impulse buy” materials. These materials are an odd assortment of things from Extras Season 2 DVDs to USB drives to ju jubes (which I always thought was a weird thing to be sold in an electronics store).
I know stores sell a lot of material on the impulse buy model, so I can’t really fault them for doing it, but most places have reasonably small displays devoted to things that truly are either last minute things people might need or want (batteries and pens) or low-end impulse decisions (ooh, I’m hungry). Best Buy kicks it to a whole other level, with their entire crowd control snake being lined with potential impulse purchases.
While I stood in line, resisting the urge to buy a combo DVD of Aliens and Species, my eye was drawn to the fellow ahead of me. He looked like a student, who I assumed was backpacking his way around the country. I make this assumption because he was a little scruffy looking and wearing a backpack. He was also holding a box for a wireless router, which is, of course, vital equipment for a backpacking student. Work with me while I stereotype, okay? The thing that really caught my eye though, wasn’t his nice looking router, or even his not-so-nice looking backpack — it was that he looked over at a box of Mars bars, nodded quietly to himself, and picked one up.
“What do you know?” I thought. Mars bars ARE a valid impulse buy material in Best Buy. I guess people like candy anywhere.
Now, I would have forgotten about this entire episode, except for what happened next. A woman snaked her way through the line, passing me, and walking up behind the somewhat scruffy-looking backpack-wearing gentleman and with one hand reached out and gently stroked his neck and with the other, silently reached out and grabbed a Mars bar.
They didn’t say anything, these intimate backpacking companions, they just smiled quietly at each other and pooled their router and mars bars together as they walked up to the cash.
That’s what got me wondering — am I thinking about this all wrong? Are those items in the Best Buy line even impulse buys at all? Are they instead placed there to service those people who will just calmly and serenely purchase a particular item whenever they see it? “Ah yes, a mars bar, wonderful.” “Oh good, I needed a 9 volt battery, bliss.” “How nice, season two of 24, all is right.”
These people did seem awfully happy and content with the world — I felt like a human stress ball compared to them. Maybe that’s what I’m missing, something that makes me happy and complete that is available anywhere, including Best Buy. I need to get that Aliens/Species DVD.