The Fine Line Between Encouraging Patrons to Stay or Go

After a very long week of getting over the flu only to be pummeled by a stomach bug, and then mis-installing the latest version of my favorite browser (three times, thank you very much), I’m back to my old blogging tricks.

One of the nice things about being sick is that it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading and go through some links I had collected. It also gave me the chance to repeatedly experience the grocery store I usually go to for all sort s of medicine, food, and then protein shakes when I stopped eating for three days.

The grocery store I go to usually doesn’t have any noticeable background music. It’s pretty much like a warehouse. However, the other day, when I had no tolerance for anything to begin with, they were blaring rock music. Now, I happen to like rock music, and had I not been sick, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all (except for the volume). But it made me log for the stores back home where they play “adult contemporary” hits softly through the store’s speakers.

I remember my mother explaining to me once when I was a child that the reason for the music is to get people to stay longer and spend more money in the stores. I remember having it re-explained to me in grad school as part of my exhibit design class. So with all of this in mind, I was reading through some of the feeds I hadn’t quite caught up on, and discovered this little gem from Jory Desjardins [dead link] speaking to the coffee houses needing to explore this topic more in their own interests. I had to laugh. It was such a frame of mind thing.

Many places do understand the importance of creating an atmosphere that makes their customers do what they want, but coffee shops have always seemed like an odd little beast. They want you to come in and buy coffee. They’ll even create a nice seating area so you can sit and drink with your friends. But then they encourage the employees to create a somewhat hostile environment so you won’t want to stay around. Most of the coffee shops I’ve run into here in Seattle have actually been very pleasant and welcoming, but I will never forget the coffee shop in San Antonio that was inexcusably rude to a large, well-paying group of us who occupied about three tables one rainy afternoon for a couple of hours.

By the way, that coffee shop is now out of business.

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