THE LIFE STORE
I had a meeting in Tampa yesterday, at a distributor who sells the little pieces and parts that go into Heavy Lift Machinery, in dozens of industries around the world. Think Fork Lift in a warehouse and the guts of the machine that lifts that heavy stuff up and down and you’ll get the picture. This guy is a huge distributor who sells one of the parts inside one of the parts. That’s how my day started, amazed at learning of a world that very few people ever think about; yet it exists. The take away from this visit was that these obscure customers who are the buyers of this unseen little part, would respond to an advertisement that showed a side by side; the world before this part… and the world after this part. The creative switch in my mind had been flicked on.
Since I was in the neighborhood, I avoided the temptation to stop by the Yankees Spring Training at Steinbrenner Field and made my way to the huge, monster Ikea store. It’s a destination I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, but a strange thing happened to me once I got in there.
I walked and walked with my little pencil jotting down notes on their little slips of inventory pages, wandering through room set up after room set up. One beautiful and amazing interior after another. All decorated like it came out of the coolest design magazine and everything looked like it came fresh out of Europe, but it had the most amazing inexpensive prices. It made me feel like all the furniture that I had ever bought, at all the places I ever lived, was both not the furniture I really ever wanted, nor was it sold to me at a price I would have liked to pay.
I thought about the furniture I currently have, it’s okay, I’m sure I paid too much and I got it at a store that was close by. Had I known, what I learned about Ikea, I would have gotten everything there. It made me feel bad that I got what I got where I got it. Fortunately I have a dining room, a spare bedroom and a back deck to still furnish and I sure as hell am gonna get all Skandanavianized.
On the drive home, I started thinking about how great it would be if we could shop for the different stages of our lives in a store like Ikea. You know, walk through the different departments showing the different pictures and places of our lives so we can see it in front of us before we buy it.
They might have the adolescent/teenage department showing a gang of kids in various genres. The rock and roll gang, the drugged out gang, the sports jock gang, the fashion conscious crew, the super smart club, the popular cool clique, the brooding artist clan and so on. We could see it, shop it, and understand how it would look and how much it would cost… and choose it, rather than being the victim of what ever happens to us, however it happens, at the price they charged… just because the store is close by.
As adults, they might have the various college departments, or the retail job scenarios, or the trade labor shops or entrepreneurial outcome showroom. So we can see it and buy it or not. Then we would walk down the aisle a little further and there would be the young couple show rooms. We could view the upscale, middle class, downscale and homeless, all portrayed in their room with their various props, features and benefits. We could check the prices of each and build the set of our life based on how we see it merchandised before us.
Same for the years that we mature and ultimately retire into or whatever our encore career will be. We can see the craft fair life, the golfer life, the travel and sailing life, the in-law apartment life, the homeless or the assisted living life. Shopping for the decisions of our life before we have to buy or commit to it. All of it would obviously be based on our taste and budget at the point of purchase. It might even have an influence on how we budget our current life in order to achieve or avoid a future life played out in our retail view.
Can you imagine going to a Life Store like that, browsing past the stages of life that you’ve already lived, considering whether or not you would have bought one of the lives presented to you or were you satisfied with you experience purchase at the time. And now comes your future. Will you go traditional, modern, Southwest or east… or maybe Oriental? How will you decorate your life going forward? Especially being able to see it played out in front of you before you need to purchase it.
Or maybe it’s better we don’t see the stages of life pitched to us before we choose to live them; maybe we wouldn’t choose what we did, the way we did. If we would have known how MacGuyver would have turned out, would we have watched him all those years?
By the way, I love all the come backs, Travolta, Mickey Rourke, Pam Grier and even Richard Dean Anderson… saw him just today in this great new TV show called “Whitney.” Anyway, my point is, would you have bought the life you have, had you known something better and cheaper existed at the same time? We’re talk’n about the cost of emotional currency here folks.
I gotta get back to designing this ad portraying Construction Equipment before this new part existed and showing how much better the machine operates with the new and different part.
Einstein once said, “Comparison is the disease of the mind.” Yet how does one choose based on comparable value if they don’t know all the options available to them?