‘Tis the Season to Run the Gauntlet


Brent Cannon:
Brent CannonThe holiday season is in full swing – especially the shopping. I know what they are saying about the rough economy, but I have been to the mall, and from what I can see, there are plenty of people out there. Maybe they are not buying as much, but they sure are shopping.

Holiday crowds are a notorious turn-off for some shoppers, but the thing that bugs me the most is having to run what I call “The Gauntlet.” That is just walking from store to store, trying to dodge those people manning the kiosks. Malls didn’t used to have kiosks, but now they are jammed with them.

Most people working a kiosk are not horribly invasive. But an increasing number of them are becoming downright annoying. I just want to shop. I just want to go from place to place without being hassled. But it is getting insane. They stand in your way. They holler greetings, and try to hand you things – anything just to engage you in a conversation so they can try to make a sale.

And you can see it coming. You are walking towards a kiosk and you can see them already picking you out. You try not to look them in the eye – but they come right up and engage you anyway.

They say things like, “Can I ask you a question?” Lame. And yet we fall for that all the time. I guess our natural reaction is to respond to a person who wants to know something. But the only thing they really want to know is if they can con you into buying something you do not need or want.

How about those people who work for the kiosks that sell those warm wrap things. You know – the beanbag things that you heat in the microwave and put across your shoulder. If you don’t virtually sprint past these people, they’ll have one of those things around your neck before you know what hit you. Just try getting it off! They can put it back on faster than you can take it off. All the while they jabber their sales pitch. You can feel like a little gnat, trapped in the spider’s web – and the spider is closing in. You struggle but cannot escape!

Then there is the “hand a person something for free” approach. If you try to walk by – they jockey for position – forcing you to recognize them and acknowledge their wares. You say, “no thanks” – but see – you have engaged in conversation. That is the opening they want. You are in the web!

Others try to “guilt” you into buying. They say things like, “not even for the pretty wife of yours.” Or, “Doesn’t the lovely lady deserve….” In my head I’m thinking, “she deserves way better than what you are trying to pawn off on me.” But I politely try to keep walking.

I often think about what it used to be like stepping onto a car lot. They used to swarm a person – and then give the hard sell. But these days, it seems most sales people have learned the soft approach. They are not so invasive – so intense – so “in your face.” I wonder how long before some of the kiosk workers evolve to that same point? And how about the malls – I know they are making money by jamming as many kiosks in as they can – but do they realize the hard sales approach can actually be yet another incentive for shoppers like me to stay away?

Oh well, what can I expect, after all –‘tis the season.

Brent Cannon
NBC Bay Area News


One Response to “‘Tis the Season to Run the Gauntlet”

  1. june Says:

    i totally know what you mean brent. i don’t like those people either, but i have a little one, so they usually don’t bother me.

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