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Today I went in to Best Buy to buy a PCMCIA 10BaseT/Modem combo card for my laptop. There are good Best Buys around, but here are a few reasons why the one in the Maine Mall sucks:

Problem 1: Picture this. A typical pre-Christmas December Saturday, and there are lines at both ends of the store (one toward the parking lot, one entering the mall), each about 100 customers deep. There are six registers available for checking-out shoppers at either end of the store, and at any given time, there are only ten or so cashiers working. My brother and I were interested in buying a gift in the store, but not interested enough to stand in the lines. I overheard other people’s conversations voicing my same sentiments.

Problem 2: Today, I walked right up to the computer guys’ booth and there was no one available, so I go over to the camera guy’s booth (he’s free). I asked him if he knew where I would find the item in question, and he didn’t know where it was. I go back over to the computer booth and I said that I just had a quick question (yes, I am one of those people, but I never ask for more than a direction or something real easy) and he shows me the area on his way back to help another customer. Turns out that there is no possible way to get from the parking lot to the camera booth without being hit in the face by swinging neon signs for PCMCIA 10BaseT/Modem combo cards (I know what you’re thinking, but no. I went to the computer booth first, and then went to the camera booth, it’s a different path). This would never happen at Home Depot (the dust bunnies at Home Depot can tell you which aisle the 3/4 inch mitre bits are in).

Problem 3: The layout of this store forces you to take one of two-hundered paths from the parking lot to the door, which I think sucks for the same reason that the store designers probably thought it was a great setup: you can’t just go through the store to the mall, you have go through aisles of merchandise to get there. Now first of all, I don’t think the floor plan designers really understand these consumers that well. Most people will not cast but casual glances at any of the items in the store. They just want to go to the mall. They are not interested in the new Dido CD, they do not need a Windows XP for Dummies book, they want a hat from LIDZ and “Oh Lordy, Look Who’s Forty” merchandise from Spencer’s. They are cutting the easiest path from the entrance to the mall entrance, plain and simple. They are losing these potential customers. Solution? ONE PATH. Filled with buzzers and bells and whistles and sirens going off and and a top 20 CD rack and huge TV screens with Playstation 2 and XBox Games being played and the latest blockbuster film releases on DVD and people selling digital PCS service from Sprint at the low price of $39.95 for 500 daytime minutes per month with unlimited nights and weekends. Everyone is at least somewhat interested in this stuff. You grab someone’s attention in your store, and they will at least look around for a sec, and a quick survey of the store is better than a brisk, commited walk to the exit.

Of course, you may dismiss all of these as me bitching about bullshit, and by all means, please do, because that is pretty much what it is. Tomorrow I will tell you about how I got hooked up BIG TIME by two generous people I never met before.

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