Oct 6, 2021

Amazon Goes All Brick-and-Mortar On Us

We’re about to go from waiting online to standing in lines

By Ed Goldman
As I’m sure you’ve read, heard or been constantly reminded of in social media, Amazon, the online retail terrorist regime, is planning to open some brick-and-mortar stores, initially in California and Ohio, which are so very much alike. (Case in point: they both have “i’s” and “o’s” in their names. You can Google this if you doubt me.)

The news comes as a relief to those who find shopping online from their couch so much more anxiety producing than the relaxing experience of getting into a car, driving through traffic, then being jostled by unmasked anti-vaxxers in congested suburban malls that become gang hangouts after sunset. Malls also offer food courts, which allow us to pick and choose from a diversity of unhealthy eats without the inconvenience of having to get off our rapidly expanding backsides to walk into the kitchen.

Edgy Cartoon

Cash ‘n’ Carry

Taking these amenities into account, perhaps you’ll agree with me that Amazon’s plans represent good citizenship, public service and yes, “giving back,” the latter being the phrase of choice when a multi-billion-dollar business donates five dollars to a charitable cause.

Since Amazon created a business model based partly on what might be called supermarket science—placing items in strategic locations, including at checkout, to constantly upsell as we buyers wend our way down the aisles—I’m curious as to how it’ll now retrace its steps to ensure that what worked online will work in person.

For example, if at some point in your life you bought a historical romance like “Gone With the Wind” from Amazon, at the moment of purchase and in the ensuing years you doubtless received prompts that you should also consider obtaining some far-flung bodice-ripping novels with names like “Rubber Plantation Owners’ Desperate Teenage Daughters,” “Thomas Jefferson Takes a Constitutional” and my personal fave, “Wannabe Astronauts’ Wives” (tagline: “He would take her around the world but not bowling”).

So if we shop at an Amazon Store, will they use neon signage or former Walmart greeters to assail us when we’re shopping for gym socks to head to the next aisle, which features fully stocked shelves of trusses, athletic supporters and Advil?

Will the spiels be personalized? It’s scary enough that we receive these online by name. Will we be strolling through Amazonarama, or whatever the stores will be called, and experience someone dashing up to us, calling us by name and either taking us by the hand or literally carrying us to an aisle with merchandise vaguely related to what they espy in our shopping carts?

And will this therefore become a field day for “woke” attorneys who’ll urge us to sue the store greeters for quickly sizing us up and depositing us at the kiosk featuring Depends and Fixodent? That’s ageism. Possibly elder abuse. And for all I know, a violation of England’s infamous Salmon Act of 1986, which says that it’s against the law to handle salmon under suspicious circumstances.

Anyway, the entire prospect is unnerving and I may calm down by pouring myself a soothing vodka martini and paging through a new book that came in today’s mail: “Rubber Plantation Owners’ Desperate Teenage Daughters.” I’m reading it only because I’m a history buff. I mean it.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


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