Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blogging standing up in the Madison Apple store at West Towne Mall while getting tires at Sears

Port in the Storm
I was out at West Towne Mall Saturday getting new tires put on my 216,000-mile Toyota commutermobile (I bought a set three years ago, thinking they were the last tires I would buy for this car, but it just keeps on keeping on). So where was I going to kill a couple hours?

I headed for the new Apple store. It's an oasis of serenity in the hard-sell commercialism of the mall. Good lighting, clean design, cool products displayed without clutter on maple veneer tables, and a helpful, no-pressure sales staff that's not paid on commission. Of course, you're being sold -- but it's marketing that doesn't hit you over the head. If Steve Jobs wants to build these sleek temples where we can go to worship his products in a non-threatening environment, that's fine with me. Besides, I had some questions to ask about setting up my Apple wireless router with the new 24" iMac. And I wanted to check my email. Which I did on a MacBook Pro.

That done, I still had time to kill. I decided to go ahead and write the blog post I had been meaning to write about Kites on Ice. I went to my Flickr account, made the photo stored there public, and imported it into Blogger. Then I wrote this post about the winter kite festival on Lake Monona that I used to enjoy so much, and about how I wish it could be brought back, about how Madison needs a winter festival on the lakes to make our long winter more endurable, and how a kite festival would make a great focal point for the event. Before I knew it, I was done.

A couple times sales people came over and asked if they could help me, but there was never any pressure and when I explained that I was doing some blogging while getting my tires changed at Sears, they were nothing but encouraging. Nobody seemed to care that I was tying up a computer -- there were plenty more to go around. A blog post is nothing. In New York, one woman wrote a book in the Apple store.
Unable to afford a computer, Ms. Jade, 25, began cadging time on a laptop at the Apple store in the SoHo section of Manhattan. Ms. Jade spent hours at a stretch standing in a discreet corner of the store, typing. Within a few months, she had written nearly 300 pages.

Not only did store employees not mind, but at closing time they often made certain to shut Ms. Jade’s computer down last, to give her a little extra time. A few months later, the store invited her to give an in-store reading from her manuscript.
I'm sure I'll be back. There are always questions to ask, email to check -- and one day, when they get the damn thing right, an iPhone to buy.


Nonanon said...

Well, I'm not an Apple user, so I may not be the proper audience for this post. Just finished a book called "Punching In," by Alex Frankel, about his adventures working in retail/service jobs, including a final chapter on his job in the Apple Store. And I quote:
"At Apple, as elsewhere, sales commissions had been tossed out because they polluted the seller-buyer relationship. But each store and each salesperson had to hit certain targeted metrics, especially for the attachments...From the time I was hired, I was told that if I did not sell these extras, I would see my weekly hours diminish and would not work at ideal times..."

Hm. I'm glad you had a good experience, but that sounds like another way to make people work on commission...without actually PAYING them a commission. In all fairness: what they make hourly, I have no idea.

Dr Diablo said...

MadGuy, heed this well: In a retail store, you are never among friends. The "hospitable" staff at an Apple store may put you more at ease than predatory car salesmen, but they are siblings under the skin; they all want what's in your wallet.

By the way, I'm proud to announce that I spurned Sony projection TVs when I purchased my home theater system this Holiday season. They may be the standard of the industry, but I wanted to support your Sony boycott, so I went with a JVC instead. I did buy a Sony DVD player with upconversion, but I was the victim of a fast-talking electronics salesman who lulled me with small talk and chit-chat about his own A/Vtem. See? In any store, you're as vulnerable as a baby bunny hopping along the path through a dark forest. This guy caused me to violate principle, although the player is very nice, I must say.

Sikachu! said...

You know? I'm just a bit jealous of you that you're in the state. I heard a lot of stories like this about how nice the Apple Store is in the state. I just want to have that feeling in my country's mac store also.

In my country, Thailand actually, there're only Apple reseller stores here. I think they got the commission from the sell and that's why they aren't really friendly here. One day, I was in the store trying to check my email account for the new email and I couldn't do it because I couldn't stand the way they looked at me. They treated the machine just like 'display' one which you shouldn't touch it or do anything with it. So, I just leave the store and never walk back to play with the machine in the store again.

However, I went to Apple Store once while I were in Los Angeles. I didn't own a mac at that time though. As I could remember, I walked through the store, up to the second floor, then came down and playing with the Macbook Pro. I looked around and I just saw them smile at me. That's the difference ..