Rick's List — The Glory of Convenience Stores Edition
I feel as though convenience stores are the most important stand-alone establishments in our world (with apologies to emergency rooms and Whataburger franchises). This dates to my days as a musician when, often, after a gig in some grim and stark community where a brittle wind sneezed through empty streets, an all-night convenience store was my only friend.
I can still stand in a convenience store and spin slowly in 360 degrees of wonder. When I'm flush with cash, I drive to a convenience store and buy weird things simply because they're available:
1. Mango-flavored tobacco Young People use to roll cigarettes that lessen the chemical taste of the embalming fluid they're trying to smoke to begin with
2. Newspapers (They still make those?!)
3. Rodent traps
4. Augmented reality fluoroscopes
5. Canned vegetables you'd never find in some place like, oh, a farmer's market
But how about this. In a convenience store soft drink cooler the other day was a can of cola emblazoned with the name ROBYN.
Yes, marketing wizards have long-relied on the "personalization." As in: You can buy a keychains in the shape of Nebraska with your kids' names on them. "Look, Chet and Felicity! Here are keychains shaped like Nebraska. And this one has YOUR name, Felicity, and this one has YOUR name, Chet!"
But why place a personalized cola cans in a convenience store display? It's set up at an inclined angle within the cooler so that you open the door, pluck the cola, and a new can slides down. Very random. Some thoughts:
1. I think ROBYN was intentional. I think shrewd analysis went into this, and the cola distributor and convenience store owner realized that, at a precise time every day, a customer named Robyn — with the "y" spelling, no less — comes in and buys a can of cola. What a happy moment for Robyn!
2. If not, I plan on tearing every can out of that chute, tossing MARK and CHRIS and SUSAN in the corner by the canned peas — until I find a RICK.
3. Re marketing: I understand why personalized products rely on biggest-common-denominator names. Percentages and efficiency. But wouldn't it be fun to run across cola cans emblazoned with:
a. MITCH MCCONNELL
c. COORS LIGHT