Meeting the Victim of the Video /Plaster Store Duality

by Dan on July 16, 2007

I love living a block from all the action in the area. I have the beach, the bars, the supermarket, the post office, and all the other shops. What got my attention today was a trip to the local video store.

I’m usually a Netflix guy, but sometimes the whole “mail it in 2 days before you want a movie” plan doesn’t work out. When that falls through, I usually hit Blockbuster. I should probably join Blockbuster online, so I can take unlimited movies out of the store, and maybe I will someday.

However, this was a day where I didn’t feel like driving. I just wanted to walk and pick up a movie. I stopped in a place to get Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success movie. I suppose it’s a condensed visual version of his popular book. The book would be a better resource of course, but sometimes it’s better to get a lot of different perspectives on life in a short time, than focus on one, if it takes you a couple months to get through it. I like Deepak, but his work can be a little dense and “out there” sometimes.

There are two video stores in my beach area. I had only been to one of them, which didn’t have the movie I was looking for. I asked around if there was another one, and they said “Yes, up the block, but the selection is kind of limited.” That was fine for me, often the more limited the selection, the more obscure the selection is, which could mean they’d have the title I was looking for.

A few blocks up I found the video store, and it had to be the strangest looking video store I had ever seen.

For one, it was really two stores in one room. On the left, there was a long set of rows of dvds, all in clear plastic. On the right, however, there were hundreds of white plaster sculptures. These weren’t just finished products, either. A lot of them were freshly finished, drying, and being aired out by large fans.

I turned to the shopkeeper in confusion and asked, “Is this a video store and plaster store all in one??”

She said, “No, that’s a different shop.”

I would have loved to see the rent deal they had going on, because it had to be one of the poorest business setups I had seen ever seen. There was really no way to tell the room wasn’t a single store because there was only a small divider in the room which was less than waist high.

I was about to walk in and look for my movie, but the smell hit me and stopped me in my tracks. It was just how an art room with no windows would smell. The plaster fumes were everywhere. Even my eyes felt a bit irritated. Instead of browsing, I just asked “Do you have Deepak Chopra: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success?”

She said, “No, but we have The Secret.” So glad to see that The Secret is getting more exposure these days, but it wasn’t what I came for. I thought for a second about looking for something else, but the smell was too much.

Before I left, I turned to the lady behind the counter, and said, “Hey, between you and me, this smell has to be killing your sales. I was going to browse in here, but I can’t because it smells so bad.”

She responded defensively but very politely, “Oh is it the dogs? I had them get rid of the dogs last week. It should be better now!”

I could only imagine what the place smelled like the week before when not only was there plaster everywhere but also several dogs cooped up in there. I let her know that this was my first time in the store, and that however it smelled before, it was definitely intolerable now. I told her, from a business person to another business person, she really needed to change this, and that as a customer, I was willing to spend an extra $2 at Blockbuster to not have to deal with it.

Her response was not surprising, but rather saddening. She said, “I don’t have much control over it.” I nodded, wished her luck, and left.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking is far from untypical. People get dealt many hands in life and don’t realize they can change most of their cards for better ones. I’m sure if I sat down with this woman, we could come up with a solution. Her profits obviously would be better if she didn’t share this space, even if she was paying double rent. She would have to find a new space, which would require a bit of money. If this is not a legitimate situation for a low interest SBA loan, I’m not sure what would be. Within a couple months, maybe sooner, she could be in a new location, maybe not having as much walk-by traffic as she had before, but having a much better conversion rate from walk-by traffic to walk-in traffic.

Or she could kick the other storeowner out, if she was the one who owned the lease. Either way, even though she had a poorly planned situation, sharing a room with a vastly different, aromatically invasive store, it was not a permanent one.

As I was walking home, empty handed, I felt a little dizzy from the fumes, and realized how unhealthy it must be for the video store owner to have to stay in that room more than eight hours a day. Hopefully she’ll see the light. Maybe she’ll watch The Secret and wish her way out of it. Still, it’s good to do whatever we can to help others understand what is going on, when the opportunity comes for us to share.

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