Tag Archives: Commenters Revolt

Why do we shop in cluttered, messy stores that we hate?

9 Apr

The New York Times has an article called “Stuff Piled in the Aisle? It’s There to Get You to Spend More” (feel free to click the link, I’m pretty sure articles that you click through from a blog don’t count as part of you twenty for the month, damn paywall…) that says that while customers prefer shopping in neater, more organized stores, they actually spend more in messy stores.

Stephanie Clifford, the author, explains it this way:

“After the recessionary years of shedding inventory and clearing store lanes for a cleaner, appealing look, retailers are reversing course and redesigning their spaces to add clutter.

Dollar General is raising the height of its standard shelves to more than six feet; J. C. Penney is turning its empty walls into jewelry and accessory displays; Old Navy is adding lanes lined with items like water bottles, candy and lunchboxes; and Best Buy is testing wheeling in bigger items, like Segways and bicycles, to suck up the space created by thinner TVs and smaller speakers.”

I'm assuming that even Wal-mart would admit that this situation has gone too far.

Although I like the neat and clean look myself, she almost had me at Segways…  Towards the end, Borders was guilty of the same practice.  Every week, more and more stuff came into the store.  Not book, stuff.  Like piles of kids toys and games that didn’t fit on our (book)shelves that we would have to stack in the middle of the floor or glitter balls (giant bouncy balls filled with glitter) that we were told we had to bounce all day as we helped customers.  (Although this was the strangest instruction that I’ve ever received, it was a lot of fun.)

Wal-Mart, a store well known for its “stacks of crap all over” version of merchandising, tried to clean its act up in the last few years, focusing on cleaner lines and aisles.  Speaking about Wal-Mart’s customers, “They loved the experience,” William S. Simon, the chief executive of Wal-Mart’s United States division, said at a recent confer-ence. “They just bought less. And that generally is not a good long-term strategy.”  So, Wal-Mart’s moving back to crap in the aisle.  And a bunch of other stores are following their lead.

As one commenter responded to Mr. Simon’s comment, “I guess that says it all. The stores are adopting the airline business model: Improve your bottom line by making your customers miserable.”  (Flying is the only time that I appreciate being so short.  Everyone else complains, but I really haven’t noticed a lot of the changes.  My feet barely hit the floor anyway.  Still, bring back the peanuts!)

But, my favorite comment of them all was this: “I love all these New York Times readers sniffing that they, of course, would prefer a cleaner store, so therefore the Wal-mart execs should cater to their preferences. Get it through your skulls, people: if you’re reading this, you are probably not their target market. Go back to the Apple store and let them run their business!”  Generally, true, but I read the Times regularly (although maybe note anymore… paywall… grr…), and I purchased my new TV at Wal-Mart over the holidays.  ($198 for a 32” flat screen.  By far the best price I could find.)  And, you know, I did hate the experience of going to Wal-Mart to get the TV.  And, I hated myself for doing it.  (I know, it’s cheap because we pay for it in our taxes.)  But, I do love my TV.

Also, can I be a terrible snob and direct you to People of Walmart?

MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on freshly pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

Highland Square is a Food Desert No More!

30 Mar

You know how I posted about food deserts a few days ago and wrote that my neighborhood lacks a local grocery store?  Well, Highland Square is a food desert no more!  (Well, soon anyway.)

Today, The Akron Beacon Journal announced that we’re going to be getting a Mustard Seed (fancy locally owned health and organic food type grocery store).  It seems that I wasn’t the only one concerned about the lack fresh food.  The City of Akron owns some of the retail space in the area and put out a request for bids from grocery stores a while back.

I guess this has been in the works for a while and I’ve been completely oblivious.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic made the announcement this afternoon. The city picked Mustard Seed, which already has stores in Montrose and Solon, from four grocers who submitted proposals.

Plusquellic made his decision after meeting with Highland Square business leaders, neighborhood residents and leaders of the Highland Square Neighborhood Association.

Also, apparently we have a neighborhood association

The location of the new store is only about 1/4 mile from my house.  Yea for being able to walk to the store when I realize that I’ve forgotten some vital ingredient.  (This happens pretty much every time I cook.)

And, the best part, according to one of the commenters “the store will be designed to be affordable and teach people how to cook healthy”.  Does this mean free cooking classes?  Because if so, I am there!

Of course, not all the commenters were happy.  (Have you ever seen all the commenters be happy?  I think that’s statistically impossible.)  Generally, the complaints were that low-income people in the neighborhood (as I said previously, I live in a mixed-income community) don’t eat organic food or cook anyway (Way to stereotype!) or that the store would be too expensive for many residents to afford.

It’s true that Mustard Seed is expensive (there’s no way that I could afford to do all of my shopping there), but it’s going to be fantastic to be able to walk to a grocery store.  I can already walk to a library, a coffee shop (locally owned, thank you!), and a Chipotle.  This neighborhood is getting better and better!

Does anonymity cut down on trolls or community?

11 Mar

Troll in the dungeon, er comments.

Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo recently wrote a piece called Troll, Reveal Thyself in which he makes the case for ending the practice of anonymous commenters on the internet.  His argument can be summed up by saying that requiring people to post comments under their true identity leads to less trolling and an overall higher standard of commentary and discussion.  Generally, I agree.  And, it seems like most of Slate’s commenters (the majority of whom log in via Facebook, thus sharing their identity) do as well.

Farhad briefly spoke to the idea that some parts of the internet are best used anonymously.  “I’m not calling for constant transparency. If you’re engaging in private behavior—watching a movie online, posting a dating profile, gambling, or doing anything else that the whole world shouldn’t know about—I support and celebrate your right to anonymity. But posting a comment is a public act.”

And that’s where he and I disagree.  Unfortunately I believe that their are whole realms of the internet ( not the tech blogs and news sites that Farhad covers) , where forced anonymity in commenting would destroy community and the sense of belonging that people find there.

Here’s the comment that I,using my real identity via by Facbeook credentials, posted in response:

Generally, I agree with Farhad that tying comments to identity leads to higher quality commenting. But, I think that there are some topics that are better explored anonymously. A lot of people use the internet to reach out to communities and to discover parts of themselves that they are not yet comfortable with admitting to themselves, let alone the rest of the world.

I wrote my thesis on fanfiction and fan communities on the internet. So many teenagers use them as places to explore their identity, particularly their sexuality. With the stigmas that can be associated with having any sort of non-heterosexual gender orientation, requiring verifiable identity would rob young people (and some older people, too) of a place to find themselves without worrying about negative reactions from parents, friends, etc.

Online communities and message boards can also be a great way for people coping with eating disorders or weight issues to connect and to explore their thoughts and feelings. I’ve recently spent a lot of time exploring the Healthy At Every Size community. While the community has visible (non-anonymous) leadership, it seems that a lot of the people who are participating on the margins and trying to come to terms with their body would be driven to lurking if their real identity was required for their participation. After all, who wants all of their Facebook friends to know that they’re having body image issues?

No responses on Slate yet.  (It’s only been up a few minutes.)


Update: Apparently my comment went over rather well on Slate.  Two people liked it (which almost never happens there) and someone posted this:

As other commenters have pointed out, the adage about not saying anything you’d be ashamed to say in front of your mom doesn’t only apply to obscene, hateful, or rude speech – it often applies to personal or intimate topics that aren’t necessarily inappropriate for a public forum or comments section.

Third Place: You’re Doing It Wrong

2 Mar

I found this article via IWorkAt Borders, a wonderful LJ community for Borders employees.  As I used to work at Borders, I still check it out from time to time.

In Loss of Borders Would be a Loss for Families Michelle Sinclair Coleman shares how happy she is that her local Borders has survived the Bankruptcy filing and will remain open.  She then goes on to explain how much time she spends at Borders, during which time she hangs out, read magazines,  and drinks coffee while her kids run wild over the store.  But does she buy the magazines (or any books)?  Of course not.  Instead, she uses Borders’ free WiFi to check prices at Amazon.  And, she goes on to talk about how important places like Borders are to the community.

Of course, she was destroyed by the commenters.

You want a Third Place?  Support It.

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