Every item scanned as "Mr Potato Head" in glitch at department stores

Yesterday, five large department stores in the towns of Lindsay and Whitby, Ontario, Canada had to temporarily stop ringing up customers because every item scanned at the register showed up as Mr. Potato Head.

"A point of sale downloading error caused item names to appear incorrectly," said Cathy Kurzbock, manager of external communications for department store chain Canadian Tire. "It has since been corrected and the stores are operating normally."

Apparently, they don't suspect this was a prank but, well, I wouldn't be so sure.

(MyKwartha.com) Read the rest

The lost Apple Store design of the 1990s

In the 1990s, Marc Newsom designed the Apple retail store concept as imagined in this presentation video by Me Company. Read the rest

Visiting what may be the most remote and expensive supermarket in America

Barrow (aka Utqiaġvik), Alaska is the northernmost city in the United States. It's so far from most civilization that the grocery prices are astronomical. For example, a bag of frozen french fries is $17, cucumbers are $4.50 each, and a carton of orange juice is $12. Read the rest

Woman "accidentally" spent the night in a mattress store

In Richmond Heights, Missouri, a woman says she visited a mattress store to test out the beds, finding one so comfortable that she fell asleep. As she snoozed apparently unnoticed, the employees closed the shop for the night. Police were called in the morning. From the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

"That's honestly the best mattress endorsement we've ever heard," the police department posted on social media Friday.

The store did not want to press charges for trespassing so officers escorted the well-rested customer out of the business, which police declined to name.

image: "Shifman Mattress and Boxspring set" by Yahquinn (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Tip: Don't shoplift when store is holding 'Shop With A Cop' event

In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Walmart was hosting a "shop with a cop" event where police officers take young people from low-income backgrounds on shopping sprees to buy gifts for their families. According to PA State Police Troop B, that was probably not the best day for Sunny Ray Firestone, 32, to "try and walk out of the store with a shopping cart full of merchandise that you did not pay for."

From KDKA:

According to a complaint Firestone told police her sick mother needed new clothes

Firestone has a history of retail theft.

Read the rest

Amazing, spaced-out 1982 TV commercial for a headshop

"See you in space," indeed. Far fucking out!

Long-since closed, the Buffalo, New York building that held Starseed Enterprises was recently home to a musical instrument store but is apparently now a church. Read the rest

Thousands sign up to play unauthorized hide-and-seek game at Ikea, police called in

This weekend, police were called to an Ikea store in Glasgow, Scotland when employees learned that thousands of people had signed up on Facebook to play an unauthorized game of hide-and-seek in the maze-like building. According to The Scotsman, "groups of youths who looked like they were only there for the game were turned away from the shop.
" From The Scotsman:

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.

..

However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.



Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’



Rob Cooper, IKEA Glasgow Store Manager said: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.



“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”

"Police called to Scottish IKEA after thousands sign up for hide and seek" (The Scotsman)

image: Google Maps Read the rest

The Mall, footage from a dying mall in 1994

This is The Mall, opened in Huntsville, Alabama in 1966 and demolished in 1998. The footage above--collected by Highway Explorer in 1994 as this former retail haven was taking its dying breaths--could do quite well with a dark vaporwave (or mallwave) soundtrack. From Highway Explorer:

This footage was shot on a very quiet Saturday night in February 1994 only a few years before its demolition. Books A Million is still there, and Home Depot is there now too. The sculpture used in the fountain sits in the traffic circle between Home Depot and Staples. The site is now called The Fountain.

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Arbitrage nomads are stripping the carcasses of America's dying big-box stores and moving the choicest morsels into Amazon warehouses

Across America, semi-homeless "nomads" drive from big-box store to big-box store, hunting for items on clearance that Amazon customers are paying a premium for; when they find them, they snap them up and add them to the bins at Fulfillment by Amazon warehouses, whence they are shipped on to consumers. Read the rest

Woman banned from Walmart for eating half a cake and then trying to pay half-price for it

Police banned a woman from a Walmart in Wichita Falls, Texas after she allegedly ate half a cake while shopping and then, at check-out, insisted that she should only pay half-price for what was left. This follows on another unusual Wichita Falls Walmart incident a few months back when a different woman spent several hours zipping around the store parking lot while gulping wine from a Pringles can. She, too, was banned.

(My9nj) Read the rest

Helium shortage deflating Party City's business

Party City, the brick-and-mortar retailer that's a one-stop-shop for single-use, brightly-colored plastic crap and other festive decorations, is closing 45 of its 900 stores across the country. Store profits are down due to the shortage of helium on the planet; Party City historically makes big money from filling balloons. From CNN:

The Earth holds pockets of helium buried under rock, but it's notoriously hard to capture because it, well, floats. When drilling or fracking for natural gas, energy companies capture some helium and sell it. But helium makes up a tiny percentage of the gasses trapped under rock formations. Over the past few years, some drillers have claimed to find troves of helium buried underground, but those haven't always panned out. Party City said it really started feeling the pinch in August 2018...

The good news for Party City is it signed an agreement with a new helium supplier. Party City believes the new supplier can help it return its balloon business back to normal starting in the summer, and it hopes the supplies will last for the next two-and-a-half years...

(Party City CEO) Harrison cautioned, however, that the additional helium wasn't a sure thing. Party City's new supplier might believe it is sitting on a lot of helium, but it can't know for sure until it bottles and sells it.

Read the rest

Mallwave: nostalgic synth music for imaginary and abandoned shopping centers

Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.

Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)

From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:

“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”

According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”

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Blame Big Data for CVS's endless miles of receipts

Buy a single item at CVS and you can end up with a 4'-6'-long ribbon of register tape, a kind of orgy of coupons and come-ons. Read the rest

Watch thousands of robots pack groceries in a warehouse

Ocado robots zip around simultaneously filling orders without bumping into each other in this fascinating look at a modern warehouse. Read the rest

"One price to all" has been the default since 1840, but online retail is sneakily killing it off

Since the earliest days of ecommerce, analysts have predicted that retailers would use their estimations of their customers' willingness to pay to invisibly, instantaneously reprice their goods, offering different prices to each customer. Read the rest

TV commercial for JCPenney's Pee-wee Herman kids fashion line (1989)

Back in 1989, you could purchase these fine garments at JCPenney inside their incredible Pee-wee Herman Store .

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Waterstones, the UK's national bookstore, came back from near-death by transforming into indie, local stores

Waterstones was at death's door when it was purchased by Russian billioniare Alexander Mamut, who hired James Daunt -- an investment banker who'd founded the successful, six-store Daunt Books -- to run the chain. Read the rest

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