Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Proper Shopping Technique

Exploring many stores for Christmas items and the usual staples this year, I have noticed that many people don't practice proper shopping techniques. In virtually every sport, technique ranks as important as any other quality in contributing to an athlete's success. Every athlete knows this and practices for hours perfecting technique. Shopping is no different.

Also, as with sports, there are a few basic techniques that form the foundation for all else. Thus, the common sports cliche "working on the basics." In my observation, many, many people need to work on the basics of shopping. After working on the basics, one can begin to improvise and create unique combinations of basic moves. By doing so one can become a Michael Jordan of shopping.

First, perhaps the most fundamental move of shopping is the "one-person aisle block." This technique is illustrated in the diagram below. On the left side of the diagram you see a person looking far an item on the store shelf. The cart (or buggy as some call it) sits directly in front of the person which allows others to easily pass by! Poor technique.

Using the proper technique, illustrated on the right of the diagram, the person positions their cart on one side of the aisle, stands beside the cart, and looks for an item on the store shelf on the opposite side of the aisle of the cart. No one can pass the person using this technique as it effectively blocks the entire aisle.

If you feint finding what you want, and occasionally look as if you are about to move you can maintain this position of several minutes or more before someone dares to ask to pass. The other advantage of this technique lies in that only one person is needed to perform it. Bring your children with you to the store and you can enhance this into the "family aisle block" technique which has been known, if properly performed, to impassable.

Next, let's look at the "intersection conversation block" play. The diagram below shows an adult with children talking with two other adults. The beauty of this technique is that it closes down movement in four directions. Having children involved makes this play particularly effective because you can use several minutes "gathering" your children together before you move on.

Once in a Super Walmart, three groups performed the "intersection conversation block" simultaneously and shut the place down for 45 minutes. Beautiful.

Finally, the "aisle wander" completes our introduction to basic shopping techniques. I have attempted to show the "aisle wander" in the diagram below. Properly practiced the aisle wander consists of a random series of slight turns accompanied with abrupt and equally random changes in speed. This makes it particularly difficult for others to pass by you. But, since you are moving, they don't want to seem impatient or rude by asking to get by. Again, with this technique, you can create maximum frustration in other shoppers with only one person and little effort.

A couple of final notes, as with most sports, size matters. Personal width enables one to more easily block aisles and frustrate others. The preferred spot for width is the hips. Broad shoulders, while they may look impressive, can be quite ineffective as aisle blockers. In my own case, while I have fairly broad shoulders, I am also tall and most people can pass by easily because they are below the level of my shoulders.

With large, wide hips one easily blocks the aisle and others cannot easily avoid the hips. Since the posterior is a "personal" area, others are much more reluctant to have physical contact with an other's butt area. Bumping shoulders only requires a perfunctory "Excuse me." Bumping butts may mean jail time.

Additionally, it is considered extremely rude to say anything that implies at even the slightest level that someone has an enhanced gluteus maximus. Again, this makes the person wanting to pass you even more reluctant to say or do anything except stand there and internally combust in frustration. Also, training for a true gluteus MAXIMUS is much more fun that training for a marathon.

Remember, always strive to combine these basic techniques into new, and unique combinations. Michael Jordon learned how to make unbelievable shots by first making believable shots. Creativity and improvisation are the keys to becoming a truly great shopping athlete.

Also, your cart is your friend. A cart easily blocks double the pathway of a single person if positioned carefully. Just as a basketball player learns to dribble, shoot and feel the basketball is an extension of his own body, let the cart become an extension of you. I get shivers just picturing the havoc a skilled cart handler can wreak.

Happy shopping!!!

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