Sunday, December 29, 2013

On Personal Shoppers, Disruptive Patterning, and Bad Music at the Mall

I do not like shopping. Well, that's not entirely true. I like grocery shopping, and going to the Apple store. I do not like shopping for clothes. The mall is a terrible place, mostly because all the stores seem locked in competition for the Worst and Loudest Music Award. Almost everything is hideous, and of the stuff that isn't, almost nothing fits. (I am shaped somewhat like a short, tailless Mewtwo.) My brother likes shopping even less, to the point where we have to bribe him with food to get him to cooperate. So on our latest shopping expedition (December 27th, after the crowds are gone) I became his unofficial personal shopper. My mother shops for me sometimes, but she doesn't understand my brother, who won't care if his clothes are microfiber as long as they're soft, and hates anything plaid because it's confusing to look at.* (Mother thinks plaid is cute. I disagree.) So in the interest of avoiding second and third shopping excursions, I made it my job to feel everything for softness, discourage the purchase of ugly plaid things and choose colors (red, orange, gray and navy are good.)
I am not perfect. We're going shopping again today, to return half our purchases for being "too scratchy". But interestingly enough, the things Mother picked out are going back; the shirts with scratchy seams, the shorts with a scratchy waistband she thought would be better than the thick, soft one. I really should have pointed those out and avoided a second shopping trip. Maybe I could be a personal shopper…but only for my brother, and to avoid prolonging our shopping expeditions, because I decided long ago not to work in any industry that involves long discussions with customers.
There's a business idea in here somewhere. Specially trained personal shoppers to buy clothes for the autistic and otherwise mall-averse? Good idea, but it sounds a bit expensive. A store specializing entirely in soft and fluffy things? That might already exist. A quiet mall with soundproofing instead of speakers? Now there's a good idea. If anyone reading this is a mall manager, consider that free business advice.

*Plaid, checks, some stripes and other black-and-white patterns can range from confusing to painful to look at. I consider them disruptive patterns, like the stripes of a zebra which confuse lions trying to pick one zebra out of a herd.