May 28, 2004
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: Call of the Mall
This is a Jack Covert Selects from April 2004. I thought this went well with Todd's prior post today. The Call of the Mall: A Walking Tour Through the Crossroads of our Shopping Culture by Paco Underhill, Simon and Schuster, 200 Pages, $24.95 Hardcover, February 2004, ISBN 0743235916 Mall shopping is a sensual experience that combines lights, music, food, people, and an American favorite, consumerism. The Call of the Mall guides you on a tour of a typical mall through the eyes of author Paco Underhill, a retail-anthropologist, who points out all the oddities of the shopping experience. Underhills first book, Why We Buy, was an enthralling observation of the buying public. I consider myself to be a pretty astute salesman, but Ive learned a lot from both books. The Call of the Mall is literally set up as a shopping experience. The story unravels as you approach the parking lot from the highway, you enter the mall, shop, go to the bathroom, eat, and observe. As this is going on, Underhill is explaining the hidden details happening around you. You are introduced to two professionals along the way: one is a visual merchandiser and the other is a store designer. They offer their observations and knowledge to point out many helpful tips on making a store a place to discover, rather than just a place to buy. Actual customers also offer their point of views, and are examined to determine what would make their shopping experience more enjoyable. This book is interesting and useful, but also humorous. For example, Underhill points out that when men go shopping with their wives, they walk around with their hands in their pockets; check it out next time you are shopping its true! Underhills writing is conversational and concise, which makes it easy to relate to his professional observations. I consider myself a merchant in the classical sense, as I have spent most of my life selling books and music, but The Call of the Mall gave me a load of new valuable marketing advice. As a consumer, I thought it was interesting to learn about the purpose of a stores layout, and the psychology that goes into retail sales. This is a great study of sociology, not just the phenomenon of the mall and shopping. The Call of the Mall is some thing everyone who takes part in the exchange of goods should read.