Treasure The Honest Shopkeeper

If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.

These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.

I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.

Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.

Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who  will  make your life better if you recognise the fact.

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When You Lose Sight Of the Ball

Went to a local petrol station last week -a 24 hr place – to get a couple of hose clamps to repair something. The sort of clamp that you tighten round a rubber hose with a screwdriver. Standard repair part to get you on the road again.

I might as well have asked for mortar bombs or flea boots. The pleasant chap behind the counter could point me to a coffee machine, glazed doughnuts, teddy bears, or bargain packs of toilet tissue. Bottled water, chocolate bars, magazines, or prepacked sandwiches.

But a car repair item in an automotive service station? Unheard of…

I suspect this will be the trend of the new shops that open up – Chemists that cannot sell you aspirin but that can retail fire logs and water pump impellers. Newsagents that don’t actually sell newspapers or magazines but who can do you a nice line of decorated coffee mugs. Lingerie shops that will sell you the knickers but not the girls to go in them. Dang.

I got out of dentistry too early. I am sure that if I opened another surgery I could sell bags of peat moss and live puppies.

Note: went to Bunnings next day. All the hose clamps that you can eat. Hot, fresh, and tasty.

Yup. It’s A Car Wash.

And not just any car wash. A hand car wash. As opposed to the ones that they operate with their feet or ears…

Our local shopping centre has used up one of their limited car parks for the hand car wash. The building’s being finished and the signage is going up. Soon employees in rubber boots will be standing in the winter rain washing cars. Or not, if the state of the other hand car wash facilities in the area are any indication…

The proliferation of car washes has been an interesting phenomenon here in Perth. I remember the establishment of one of the first ones on the site of an old petrol station. It straddles a major highway and a busy feeder road and stands opposite a 24 Hr McDonalds. ( for our North American readers, McDonalds is a franchised fast-food restaurant. ) It was probably a good choice of location as it gives the people who leave their cars to be cleaned a place to go during the process. Interestingly, the owners of the car wash also put up a café on their site. This, and the stated prices on the signage, indicates that they would like each post to be a winner…

I suspect this is the case, as well, for the owners of the shopping centre. They have already leased out a great deal of their land to a tavern, Asian restaurants, and…a McDonalds…but would seem to want to cram more on the area. I’m betting that the rent they demand from the car wash owners will make the washing fees pretty remarkable.

I mourn the loss of adequate parking, but as I own a bucket, a sponge, and my own hands, I am not too frightened by the car wash.

 

The Lease Is Up

I note that there are a number of premises for lease in…

Everywhere.

Just back from a trip to Melbourne and Sydney and the number of ” for lease ” signs that line the streets are staggering. Not so much on the main city streets – though there are plenty of empty premises in the arcades and back ways. It’s the secondary suburbs that are really quite surprising…even Brunswick Street in Fitzroy – my favourite crap shop and dodgy restaurant district – is thinning out and looking for tenants.

Our own city suburbs have long stretches of highway that are all going begging. But the interesting thing is I bet they are not willing to beg. I suspect the landlords are still trying for every price increase and every winning extra charge that they can get. The fact that they cannot get them hasn’t quite registered.

I even see the foolishness of our local large shopping centre -a place that has a lack of parking space most of the time – ripping up the carpark for more stand-alone businesses at a time when other shops and spaces in their main building are hoarded over.

I am not sure whether it is the lease or the jig that is up…

Do You Have To Take Your Own Paper Bag To A Sex Shop?

It’s been years since I visited a sex shop. The people who run our local one banned me from the premises after The Incident. I can understand their anger to a certain extent but those things should really have a warning on them if they are flammable.

As retail times have changed, and we are not allowed to get free plastic bags from our grocery stores ( Though we are allowed to pay for as many as we like…) I was wondering if this virtuous concern for the environment ( Supported by extensive memes conducted by the Facebook and Instagram Institute of Science …) extended to other retail trades. For instance:

a. Are we still allowed to take dubious goods out of the sex shop wrapped in discreet bags or are we going to be required to stride out of the place juggling whatever it is that has taken our fancy?

b. Are we going to be allowed to purchase anything that is wrapped in any sort of plastic? Are we going to have to take away rice in handfuls or yoghurt wrapped in newspaper.

c. Is petrol – that damaging and harmful chemical – going to be allowed?

d. Do we need to return old clothing to be permitted to buy new stuff? And if our clothing is not sufficiently worn-out, will we be sent home with a scolding?

e. If animals like cats and dogs are not naturally vegetarians or vegans and are harmed by trying to confine them to these human diets, will we establish a new range of animal-cruelty laws designed to ensure that Towser gets a bone or Tiddles gets some tuna? Or will we require the pet owners to turn Towser and Tiddles in to the Department of Diet for re-education. And if they prove recalcitrant  ( And I have a cat who could recalcitrant for Australia…) will they be liquidated by the state?

f. As most chemicals contain chemicals, can the practice of teaching chemistry in schools be banned. Is it not possible to go back to good old fire, air, water, and phlogistan?

In case you are afraid that people will not stan for this sort of ignorance, may I point to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Rajastan, etc. They’ll stan for anything, apart from bacon.

g. As we are being told that we must consume less while producing more – and that our way of life depends simultaneously on cutting trade with China while buying more of their goods and selling them more of ours – is it possible that we are in the hands of economic as well as social and scientific idiots? Is this not yet another argument for replacing them with seers, wizards, and shamans?

h. Can we blame it on Trump and Scott Morrison? Okay, can we blame it on Brexit? Aw, come on, we have to blame it on someone and if you blame it on someone who is not white you are called a racist…

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

Author Trees

The author tree is not exactly a distinct botanic species. Author trees can be Elm, Maple, Oak, or any large deciduous variety. In tropic and hot climates Palms and Baobab trees have been very successful author trees. Pine and Fir are less common, though the Giant Redwood of California would be very suitable, if a little deadly.

You see an author tree is a tree which the author of a book that is not selling well will use as a marketing tool. He packs a bag with copies of his book, climbs up the tree, and shinnies out on a limb that hangs over the sidewalk.

When a suitable victim walks under the tree the author drops the book on their head and then pops back into the foliage. The person below suffers a surprising blow on the head and then looks around to see who threw a book at them. Very few ever look up. Then they pick it up and see what it is. In most cases they will start to read it…and if the author has been careful the start it put with a zinger like a murder or a girl taking her clothes off, chances are the sore head will wander off reading the book.

Another fan.

It was not a marketing strategy without risk. Pamphleteers and writers of short stories bombarded the populace with no qualms; their writings were lightweight and safe to drop. Others, like Tolstoy or Zola, caused fractured necks and worse. This explains many of the periods in their lives when they took rapid vacations into the provinces.

Of course you have to make some sacrifices for your art, but these days sacrificing strangers is not viewed well by the authorities. Philistines to a man.