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I can’t shop anymore. My ears are killing me.

February 13, 2011

You’ve probably noticed that in the past 10 years, music has gotten louder and louder everywhere you go.

Oh hell, everything has gotten louder and more obnoxious, but if I don’t focus, I’ll lose track of my point, so I’m going to focus on the cacophony of noises we are bombarded with when we shop, particularly in stores that want to drive us out.

This phenomenon is insidious, and quite deliberate. You’re not wrong if you feel like you’re being run out of stores with goodies on shelves targeted to 13 year olds. You are.

Apparently, according to marketing gurus, music is being deliberately targeted in stores to its desired age group, and it should come as no surprise that you and I are not it. If you go into almost any mall in America, you will immediately hear what I mean. Your ears start to bleed when you’re paying for that $48 rag—ooops, I mean t-shirt—your child or grandchild simply has to have. The kid, of course, does not want to be seen with you, and so the store blasts music that splits your head open until you’re forced to leave. Handily, your sanity has a time limit precisely aligned with how long it takes you to swipe a credit card and sign on the dotted line; after that, you and your little ingrate can leave, thanks for the money, don’t dawdle on your way out.

About 10 years ago, marketers starting making use of age-related statistics being supplied to them by various focus groups. Even the U.S. Census Bureau supplies marketers with valuable demographic information, leading nowadays to what’s called demographic segmentation, which leads to 18 different types of toothpaste on the shelves at Target, it turns out. Each type of toothpaste is being targeted, no pun intended, to different segments of the buying population, hence the explosion of choices. You’re not going crazy—there really are too many products nowadays, all presumably with the have it YOUR way generation in mind.

Psychographic segmentation, which sounds vaguely pornographic, is what marketing Santa Clauses rely on to shimmy down your particular chimney. Raw numbers aren’t enough anymore. Now they want to know your:

  • Interests
  • Activities
  • Opinions
  • Behavioral patterns
  • Habits
  • Lifestyle
  • Hobbies

This is me, when I'm shopping

In other words, your personality or lifestyle determines how they target you. This gets creepy, because it means that marketers nowadays are stalking you. The best, easiest place to do that is online, but don’t overestimate how much time they spend looking at your Facebook page. Instead, they form their biased opinions about you simply from shoving you into a cohort based on statistics they’ve picked up from the U.S. Census Bureau, and deciding, well, you’re an over-50, overweight white woman, that means you want [no need to think for yourself, they can fill in this blank for you].

Thank god I don’t have to determine what would make me happy anymore! I’ve got 30 year-old marketers I’ve never met to do it for me, based on their perception of my needs, which are based on their personal prejudices about their mothers and all women they have ever seen on TV and in movies!

(Does anyone else see the fly in this bottle of snake oil, or am I whistling my tune alone in the dark here?)

Here’s a comment from someone on a forum. The initial question was, “Is it insensitive for stores to blast loud Christmas music?” This commentator’s response is:

I hate going to Hot Topic because of their music. I have actually left the store after telling the clerk that I couldn’t handle the music anymore. The store is geared toward teens and young people, but these people are spending their parents’ money. Some respect should be given to the parent.

I think some respect should be given to the parent’s ears and sanity, as well as our pocketbooks. In this, marketers are cutting off their noses to spite their face, because, even though your ungrateful spoiled child doesn’t want to be seen with you, and even if you aren’t the store’s target demographic, the fact remains that if they played music you could tolerate—not “listen to,” merely tolerate—you’d be inclined to spend much more money in that store. This is the “you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar” theory mentioned by Aristotle back when the Greeks were first coming up with theories.

This fact is based on simple logic. No matter how much my kid hates being seen with me, the fact is, if s/he’s 13, s/he doesn’t have her own money, not enough to be able to afford this over-priced garbage being sold nowadays (rags masquerading as clothes spring to mind). That means that if you seriously want me to spend real money, reconsider the idea that somehow I myself am verboten. You want my money, cater a little bit to me, not to my child, who is not the boss of me, by the way.

Music-as-torture works in reverse, too. Crafty older business owners are getting some of their own back, and have been heard to crank Frank (Sinatra) over parking lot speakers, effectively running off teenagers whose parents have told them not to come home before midnight.

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165 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 8:18 AM

    I am astounded at how easily the stores mesh the music of one section … say, teen clothes … into another. Totally different areas with their own “vibe.” It’s a subtle suggestion, but it’s there nonetheless.

    • February 15, 2011 10:36 AM

      And I think the stores do not realise (perhaps do not care?) that this overload of sound affects the buyer on a physiological level. I spend less and less time in stores now because I am on sensory overload after an hour. Well, no, I don’t spend an hour in a store. Never happens.

    • February 15, 2011 11:36 AM

      It all becomes NOISE, though. It’s so funny; I remember how incredibly DEAD malls were in the 1970s, when I was a teenager. DEAD. Saturday Night Live used to do skits lampooning how dead malls were, that’s how dead they were. They were intended for people my age, but we had no money, and adults did not go to them because they thought they were tacky.

    • February 15, 2011 12:48 PM

      I am tired of being blasted in every section when all I would like to do is blast them for the rise in prices all while not paying the poor people who make this stuff a cent more! Wish I could scramble back to the times of calm elevator music. So much for “shopping pleasure”.

      Thanks for the throw back and a little voicing of what a mess commercialism stands in.

      • February 15, 2011 3:39 PM

        This is such a huge subject. Consumerism, combined with low wages made by the people who were once peasants in rural China, living in semi-poverty in warehouse-sponsored housing… every purchase we make is suspect. Our largesse is pulling other countries out of their poverty, but there are costs involved in that equation that have been shown to be soul-damaging to the individual.

  2. February 15, 2011 8:24 AM

    In this, marketers are cutting off their noses to spite their face, because, even though your ungrateful spoiled child doesn’t want to be seen with you …

    Interesting! All the marketing can definitely be overwhelming, and, at times insulting when you know they think they’ve got you pegged. Desperate desperate 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 10:37 AM

      I used to work alongside marketers at an IPO start-up. These people do not take lunch. Just sayin’. 😉

  3. February 15, 2011 8:36 AM

    not that id shop at hollister, a&f, or any of those stores…but wtf are they thinking with their obnoxious music? thanks for pointing this out and congrats on FP!

    • February 15, 2011 10:37 AM

      But what ARE they thinking?? Yes, I hear you, with what’s left of my hearing… 😉

  4. February 15, 2011 8:39 AM

    Yep, know exactly what yolu mean. It is not just with the shops neither. Young people who drive around with their boom box set on high that you can hear their boom boom boom
    six streets away is another thing that rattles my ear drums. Watching a movie on tv where the music is so loud yet you cannot hear the dialogue that you are forever adjusting the sound. We live in a noisier world today. I can only hope that when old age hits that I go deaf lol.

    • February 15, 2011 10:38 AM

      I have decided that the only sense I am WILLING to lose is my hearing. I am very disappointed with this era. I would like to go back to almost any previous era (except those that contain plague). 😉

  5. February 15, 2011 8:40 AM

    I’m an avid Sci-American reader, and i picked up an interesting factoid a few years back that pertains to cochlear damage, and the type of music that you listen to…
    Turns out that the decibel level of the music (or noise, depending on your generation), is not the only factor that is in play when talking about actual damage to your hearing – or bleeding ear drums… In fact it has been shown in numerous studies that if you like what you are listening to, despite the fact that it is wayyy too loud by any normal standard, you are far less likely to have hearing loss as a result of it! The threshold for pain expands (or shrinks) depending to your mental attitude toward what you hear.
    Also I’m 27, which is young-ish to be sure, and i cant stand the volume. What the hell people, can you really convince me that my money isn’t worth as much as that 13 year old’s? I shouldn’t be buying a gift? Well fine i say. I’ll take my money elsewhere!

    • February 15, 2011 10:41 AM

      🙂 IT’S NOT THEIR MONEY!!!!!! They are 13!! I can’t make this font large enough to contain my umbrage, and you know what, right now, I’m listening to this really calming ambient music in my headphones, so that i can calm down.

  6. The Compulsive Writer permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:40 AM

    I too feel the same way about the music. Though I still consider myself young (mid-30s). What I really can’t stand is the smell coming from the Abercrombie and Fitch store. It is just too much! In addition, their customer service stinks. Is it an age thing, on both parts? Not sure. Regardless, I love their clothes. So…I suffer through it. Great post, btw. Can’t wait to read more posts…

    • February 15, 2011 10:44 AM

      oh god, there’s a SMELL now, too?? This is something I hadn’t noticed. Basically, unless my daughter, who is 21, tells me about it these days, I know nothing. I hide in my house. 🙂 Listen, you do not have to be 50+ to appreciate the entire concept of “aging.” We are all aging. Of course, it beats the consequences… 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 2:47 PM

      I was waiting for this! Abercrombie is the worst!
      I refuse to go in with my kids.
      They can walk the cloud of perfume and booming music but me and my credit card will be elsewhere.

      • February 15, 2011 3:17 PM

        I think it’s time to say something. I hear a popular uprising coming… mall owners, beware!!

      • The Compulsive Writer permalink
        February 15, 2011 7:34 PM

        At our mall you can smell it from outside! A little scent is nice, but in this case it is…not so good. The music is really loud too. I usually look online so I know exactly what I want to check out before I go. Even then I spend little time in there, which is good. But I guess if you think about it…not such a good marketing scheme on their part.

    • February 15, 2011 6:08 PM

      That’s funny. I’m a teacher and one of my students was just commenting today about how Hollister’s scent section is overkill and how nothing they sell even smells like the scents in the store. I wouldn’t know.

  7. February 15, 2011 8:45 AM

    which are based on their personal prejudices about their mothers and all women they have ever seen on TV and in movies!

    Or those slimy 30-year-olds have a ton of purchasing and marketing data that shows that while you specifically may not want this product, a critical mass of people like you do.

    Marketing is crucial to every part of what’s served to you on a daily basis — even WordPress was designed to be easily navigated by the layman. I find this kind of anti-marketing backlash, though understandable, a mentality that undercuts the amount of data gathered and how damn effective it really is…

    No one forces you to buy the things targeted at you, and no one forces you to let your kids have free range of your pocketbook.

    • February 15, 2011 10:50 AM

      These are interesting points. Let me consider them and I will rant about what you’ve said at some point in the future. “No one forces you to buy the things targeted at you” is something I can make use of, as well as “no one forces you to let your kids have free range of your pocketbook” is another good one. Since I do almost all my shopping online and avoid stores like the plague (except for necessities, broadly defined) I can tell you that one of the things that’s being targeted at me these days, now that I am post-50, are AARP mail marketing devices (otherwise known as junk mail) intended to get me to admit I’m over 50. Good luck with THAT one, I say. Now, being “forced” implies that in any one day, one is too weak (emotionally and psychologically) not to cave in to demands, subtle or otherwise. I’d say in contrapoint that people are not “forced” on Monday to buy something advertised to them on Monday. But four Mondays from now, when you’ve had the same message blasted at you, you’re gonna cave. Or, you’re LIKELY to cave. How we are “forced” is relative. Social and peer pressure are HUGE and dominate our lives. Okay, gonna stop, cause I’m writing an entire piece now. 🙂

      • fireandair permalink
        February 15, 2011 4:49 PM

        How we are forced is monopolies. They ALL DO IT. Because they are all owned by the same five zillionaires who control everything we see, hear, and eat. Voting with your wallet isn’t a possibility when you think you just comparison-shopped in five different stores but actually only walked through five differently decorated branches of one store with five logos.

        And if that CEO wants eardrum-shrivelling rave music, then eardrum-shrivelling rave music is what you get … everywhere.

        We do not have a free market. Voting with your wallet translates to not voting.

  8. Chris permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:49 AM

    so market gurus figured out that stores target music to their expected customers? HOLY COW!

    • February 15, 2011 10:51 AM

      Not brain surgery, I know.

      • February 15, 2011 2:59 PM

        I’m with you, Alison…and I’m a marketing professional. I think the problem is that the pool of marketing professionals is getting increasingly younger while we, the disgruntled, are getting older. There’s no equitable representation.

        What bothers me is the overall lack of customer service. Public facilities are filthy and salesclerks appear to be non-plussed at you making any demands from them. You know, like “Could I try this on?” or “Is someone working the till?”, and they’ve generally substituted “thank you” for “Uh huh”. Nice.

      • February 15, 2011 3:12 PM

        The irony is that I got my start writing marketing material for a French wine importing company in San Francisco, about half a million years ago, when wine still came in bottles. 🙂 We were the (silly) generation that started using words like “blackberry” and “chocolate” to describe flavors in the wine. Sigh. I was 25 years old, writing ad copy for companies and employers twice my age. They were, like I am now, trying to remain hip to the zeitgeist, and so they listened to this stuff and took it seriously. Every previous generation gets old, and starts to be afraid we’re losing it (which we are) and that’s why younger people and their voices begin to dominate the scene. Doesn’t make them “right,” but my god, younger people have power they don’t realise they have over older people. USE IT WISELY, YOUNGER PEOPLE!

  9. humanitarikim permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:59 AM

    I think the worst in terms of volume is Abercrombie and Fitch. It is possible to hear the music from that store when walking 100 feet down the hall way of the mall. I agree with you, audio overload is a problem!

    • February 15, 2011 10:52 AM

      And stores should consider that they might be pushing EVERYONE out of the mall, not just people who come to their specific store.

  10. February 15, 2011 9:06 AM

    Don’t blame you! I can’t stand the music either, and I’m just a little bit older than that age group.

    • February 15, 2011 10:54 AM

      With what of my hearing is left, I hear that a lot from people of all ages, they can’t stand the music. My daughter works for Urban, and I’m not sure how she holds on to her sanity.

  11. Se Hwan Youn permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:08 AM

    Thanks for the good story!

  12. February 15, 2011 9:11 AM

    Nice post! I especially like the quote from the forum about driving out Mom and Dad while spending their money!

    “Hey Mom, gimme your wallet and go wait in the car!” 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 10:56 AM

      Thank you! I’d like to think the person who wrote that would be glad to know her point is being heard.

  13. J Roycroft permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:26 AM

    It’s the automated tv monitors in stores and at the gas pumps that drive me to the brink of committing property damage. You know, the ones that turn on when you get withing 2 feet of them. Congrats on FP

    • February 15, 2011 10:57 AM

      The “common wisdom” about those monitors is that they are saving lives. We shall see. We haven’t had them to deal with long enough to know if they are a true violation or a true help in solving and preventing crime… ?

  14. February 15, 2011 9:32 AM

    I love going shopping with my iPod. You avoid this problem altogether. You enter into a world of your own, devoid of screaming children, looping advertisements and everything else that you wonderfully illustrated in your post.

  15. February 15, 2011 9:43 AM

    I find the worst one to be when you are out with friends in a bar, catching up and chatting away. The staff then feel it necessary to dim the lights and crank up the music, so you can neither hear or see what is going on!

  16. February 15, 2011 9:47 AM

    Restaurants I do understand blasting the music as they want to turn tables real quick, but stores, don’t get it. I thought they’d be trying to keep people in there as long as possible… especially now…

  17. fireandair permalink
    February 15, 2011 10:11 AM

    “Thank god I don’t have to determine what would make me happy anymore! I’ve got 30 year-old marketers I’ve never met to do it for me, based on their perception of my needs, which are based on their personal prejudices about their mothers and all women they have ever seen on TV and in movies!”

    You just explained why I don’t have a TV and never go to the movies handily.

    • February 15, 2011 10:58 AM

      I know! I have a TV, though. But I mute ads. I’m a hard sell, it has to be said. I buy enough crap as it is; I don’t need salespeople “helping” me throw my money out the window. I can do it all by myself.

      • fireandair permalink
        February 15, 2011 1:19 PM

        What helps me ignore them even more is watching the people who CAN’T ignore them going deeper into completely unnecessary debt. Cautionary tales have their uses. Every time I see someone buying something they can’t afford, it makes me even queasier about spending money.

      • February 15, 2011 3:30 PM

        I think this is part of the overall problem we’re up against in America right now… we have been taught to believe (or, told to believe) that money = some form of happiness, and it does not. Spending money and having more stuff than we need will be a rant, I promise, because the neighborhood I live in, pretty typical of American suburbia, is made up of people who literally cannot get their SUVs into their garages cause there’s so much stuff in the garage that they need. I never see the garage stuff actually being used, of course, but they need it.

  18. February 15, 2011 10:13 AM

    Amen! I do think, however, that there is also a new generation of parents who over indulge under the guise that they are hip and cool parents who see their children as individuals who need to be able to express themselves (hence they buy things that are way to expensive and not worth the money) and they want it to appear that their children are their “friends” and they will try to be “friends” with other people’s children so that they can be the “cool” mom. It is a tangled web but……they never complain about the money or the music and are content to live in a state of vapid bliss. I will say however….I don’t mind the music (sometimes) just the volume. My kids think it’s funny when they can feel it “in their heart beat”.

    • February 15, 2011 10:59 AM

      I did it because I had to get my kid off my back, just like my parents did it when I pressured them. What goes around, comes around. Okay, that was a flip response; I will have to write a post that addresses what you just wrote, because that’s fertile ground. 🙂

  19. February 15, 2011 10:19 AM

    This is right on the money. My daughters want me to go into the stores with them so I can pay for things, but they know there are 1 or 2 I won’t even enter because the music is so loud and the lighting so dim I can’t see or hear- sorry, you aren’t getting my money!!

    • February 15, 2011 11:00 AM

      I think it’s time for a consumer uprising. Let the stores know why you’re boycotting. It’s about damned time we get our collective sanity back.

  20. February 15, 2011 10:30 AM

    Awesome post! I was just trying to explain this ( in Italian .. eeeks) to a friend last week when we were walking in the mountains. I used to work at Old Navy and omg the music was crazy!! I only stayed there for 3months as the continuous folding of blue jeans made my head spin. To this day I can’t go in that store. Thanks for the wonderful post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • February 15, 2011 11:02 AM

      In Italian?? OMG. Well, good for you for making the intercultural connection. Now listen, one cannot be Freshly Pressed without YOU GUYS the readers!! So THANK YOU. I would write this stuff for the 3 people who read it the rest of the time, so I’ll be here, spewing rants, even on non-FP days. 🙂

  21. February 15, 2011 10:41 AM

    I don’t shop with my kids, only for them, so I don’t have this problem…yet.

  22. February 15, 2011 10:56 AM

    So true! I’ve left stores without buying anything because I couldn’t stand the music. If you can’t hear yourself think, it’s too loud! Turn it down! Check out my blog at http://www.ournote2self.wordpress.com

  23. February 15, 2011 10:58 AM

    I know exactly what you mean. Nowadays, I just walk out. It’s my wallet and assaulting with sound is not going to pry it open. The movies are the same way. I carry earplugs in my purse now. Sometimes I even looking forward to going deaf so I can just turn off my hearing aid.

    • fireandair permalink
      February 15, 2011 1:21 PM

      OMFGMOVIES. I wore earplugs as a matter of course … before I just STOPPED GOING.

  24. February 15, 2011 11:10 AM

    You are sooo right–it’s everywhere, it’s loud and it’s awful. The worst thing is that it is training young people to think that silence is a no no.

    • February 15, 2011 11:13 AM

      What’s most likely to happen is that they will learn to block it out. According to studies done on concentration camp survivors who have been forced to endure hours and hours of noise (as a form of torture) is that you learn how to block it out. So inadvertently, the marketing/sales world is potentially destroying their future listener, who might be learning, like I did, that that annoying sound coming out of the other room is not worth listening to. Of course, in my case, it was my mother.

  25. atticannie permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:16 AM

    I am personally proud that it has been well over two years since I have been in an enclosed mall and several years before that. I gave up when Christmas music was played before Halloween…or was it back to school? I am fortunate my town is large enough I can find all that I want in other locations. Since I began on-line shopping, I frequent bricks and sticks even less. My biggest complaint is the high volume ads on TV but I believe I heard a bill passed to forbid advertisers from raising the volume anymore. I wish I knew when it is going into effect if it passed.

    • February 15, 2011 11:23 AM

      I seem to recall that this year, Christmas music started playing sometime in early October. I was like, wait a minute. It’s not even HALLOWEEN yet, for crying out loud!! Holidays are becoming entirely schizoid. There’s no sense to this stuff anymore. It used to make sense after Thanksgiving, but that wouldn’t GET YOU IN THE MOOD (now that advertisers have found out we’re a moody bunch).

  26. February 15, 2011 11:23 AM

    Well, teenagers are still identifying who they are and experimenting, so it’s easier for them to spend their money than adults who will not be swayed easily.

    I can’t stand being in a mall longer than an hour. The lights and the music drives me nuts. I start getting headaches and I get cranky. I’m really picky with music I listen to, and being forced to listen to all kinds of music within 15 minutes is too much for me. There are some stores, I actually like the music, but it just makes me want to rush out of the store, which is a reason why some places play fast music, so you make impulse decisions.

    • February 15, 2011 11:33 AM

      Impulse buying/decision-making doesn’t work on me. I am slower than molasses in a fjord when it comes to making a decision. I go from 0 to cranky in nanoseconds, though.

  27. February 15, 2011 11:42 AM

    I’m a teenager and I personally can’t stand the music. I go into a store and can’t even talk to my mom or friends without shouting to be heard over the music! Now why would I want to shop like that? Not to mention all that noise and commotion is just too much for me to handle on top of my social anxiety.
    I hate shopping. I generally try to stay away from “The” stores – the overpriced low-quality stuff that EVERYBODY my age is wearing. They all look the same anyway.

  28. February 15, 2011 11:55 AM

    Loved reading this. I really don’t get why everything has to be so loud! This is one reason why I’ve been to the Mall exactly 2 times last year. Both to get something from the Apple store.
    I find both the sound and also sometimes the absoloute over perfumed atmosphere of the mall really just makes me want to take my money and send it to Amazon.com! But I thought I was the only one!

  29. Jo Major Ciolino permalink
    February 15, 2011 12:19 PM

    Completely in agreement – both with the loud music AND the stink of the cologne(s) wafting through the air. I boycott Abercrombie & Finch for other reasons (those soft-core porn pictures of half naked teens…..) and vote with my feet. As long as people are willing to “put up with” this crap it will continue. Spend your money locally, at local-owned businesses whenever you can. When I can’t, I order online. Saves me a trip the maul. (Pun intended.)

    When my husband and I are watching TV and see commercials for these stores, recent movies (most, not all) we frequently give each other the look that says, “Oh my, we are SO not the target audience anymore”! Then we laugh – because we don’t care.

  30. February 15, 2011 12:20 PM

    One way to avoid the problem is to refuse to shop there! You can vote with your dollars by only shopping at those places that appeal to you. We all shop too much anyway, and the young kids have way more stuff than we really need. Let’s just get back to basics and forget about all the “stuff”. That way we can spend more time doing the things we love to do, and less time in the malls. Just my two cents. 🙂

  31. February 15, 2011 12:21 PM

    Good points! And now, thanks to you, I’ll be painfully aware of the music every time I go in a store. Thankfully it isn’t that often.

    I strongly agree with what you said about the many variants of toothpaste. I often like to say that we live in the Wheat Thins society, which is something that follows the Information Age. I once counted something like 10 distinct varieties of Wheat Thins. How many do we need?!? 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 3:43 PM

      Another excellent point, because I don’t know that “need” is what drives this… want and need are too often simultaneous for those who over-consume. I too am now going to be way too aware of noise next I am forced to the mall, so your suffering is my suffering. 😉

  32. February 15, 2011 12:45 PM

    I totally sympathise! Although I prefer to shop in person than on-line (I want people to keep their jobs!) I find myself increasingly ordering on the internet because I can’t stand the noise! A couple of years ago, I complained to the manager of a CD shop where the ‘pop’ music was so loud it could be heard in the classical and jazz departments. I said, “If you want to sell classical and jazz, why don’t you show some respect to those customers, too?” (No reply, naturally).

    On the same note, I have practically stopped going to the cinema. My ears buzz afterwards because (at least in London) the sound is deafening.

    • February 15, 2011 3:41 PM

      I can only complain so much. When I’m in London, I try not to complain loudly, cause it’s not my country and I’m just a guest. I stay at very quiet places where I can have a cuppa and let my shattered, jangly nerves calm down.

  33. February 15, 2011 12:50 PM

    Even though I am a part of the young generation (although I’m now out of college) I hate going into stores were the music is too loud. Even when I was younger I never saw the point. And I’m someone who like ACDC (which can only really be paid loudly).

    • February 15, 2011 3:37 PM

      You don’t know that I crank Pink Floyd up in my car (and many other sources of deafening music) but this is America. It’s MY car, and the only people I’m annoying are my 16 sub-personalities.

  34. February 15, 2011 12:51 PM

    How about the music at coffee houses…my friends and I have found the way around this…just ask the children who work there to turn down the “club music”, the request was barely out of our mouths…obviously they were just waiting for this…if no one had complained they would get away with their music at an unrealistic volume…but as soon as we started to complain the volume went down and the music changed to easy listening…how strange?! And yay for us!!!

    • February 15, 2011 3:34 PM

      I have found that when I ask, the vein throbbing over the side of my head that has the brain tumor convinces them that I really need to be heard. Younger people and I are not getting along real well these days. My tolerance level is zilch. 😉

  35. jazzlives permalink
    February 15, 2011 1:01 PM

    There’s “music” everywhere at high volume. When the Beloved and I walk into a new restaurant, often we don’t make it past the doorway because of the decibel level. Even for music we both adore — who wants to hear it pounding away at you while you’re negotiating your salad? When we’ve asked the staffs at various eateries (very sweetly) if they wouldn’t mind turning it down, the response is 70% positive, as if they’re half driven mad by the music as well. And those who refuse say that the management thinks the restaurant is too quiet without music . . . as if every meal had to be a faux-party. But if you can avoid buying things at all unless necessary, you cut down on the collisions with mall music: thrift stores tend to be much quieter! And your closet — full of things that don’t get worn enough — is blissfully silent. Cheers from a place where the music is what we choose, and at the volume conducive to it and to us.

    • February 15, 2011 3:33 PM

      Wait… “the Beloved”?? Now I am totally distracted and can’t even read the rest of what you wrote. I’ll have to come back to you. 😉

  36. All County Insurance - Brea, California permalink
    February 15, 2011 1:16 PM

    I don’t mind the stores playing the music that they want BECAUSE I don’t go into them… If they want to lose customers because of that decision then that’s fine with me, that’s their fault. Shop online and listen to the music that you want! Congrats on being FP!

    • February 15, 2011 3:32 PM

      I do almost all my shopping online. QVC and I are BFF. This is a sickness and there will be a rant. 😉 (Key to QVC is I can mute them and not listen to the endless, insipid “Oh, Marcia, tell us what you think about our gold-encrusted roast beef slicer/dicer/pedicure Magic Wonder Device”.)

  37. February 15, 2011 1:24 PM

    I can’t stand sit down restaurants with loud music. Someone said earlier that they do it to turn tables, and I get that, but they end up making me never want to come back! My husband and I went to an Applebee’s a couple of months ago with music blaring. We couldn’t even carry on a conversation without practically yelling, and by the time we left we both had a headache! I can promise you we won’t be going back there–that was not what I wanted on my date night!

    • February 15, 2011 3:27 PM

      I’m surprised that’s happening at Applebees, since that’s supposed to be a “family” restaurant, but maybe families don’t want to talk to one another anymore…?

  38. February 15, 2011 1:27 PM

    I do not go in some store if the music is blasting. I just think it’s another teeny bopper school with a bunch of kids trying to be cool. The more higher in age I get the less tolerant I become of teenagers. Your articles was very good, thanks!

    • February 15, 2011 3:26 PM

      My father used to say that all children should be put on ice until they turn 12. Nowadays, I suspect he’d raise that age to 18.

  39. February 15, 2011 1:58 PM

    Interesting article! I don’t shop much anymore because I’m dropping out of the “consumer culture”. So they can advertise (I don’t watch TV anymore either) and play all the creepy loud music they want, I’m elswhere. As far as advertisers figuring out my buying habits online, they can do that, as I buy books and DVD’s online, along with some sports equipment, but I only buy what I can afford, which isn’t much, so good luck with that. And don’t give me any crap about “No one is immune, they will advertise and you will subconsiously absorb it and go buy it” routine. I really can think for myself, question my motives and reconsider whether I really need/ want something. So there.

    • February 15, 2011 3:25 PM

      I am laughing because you are so right. Excellent points, all. Thanks for reading!

  40. Amanda permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:10 PM

    I know what you mean. I’m just out of my teens, and *I* hate the music they blast out in stores. I’m an eclectic listener, but I want to choose what I hear, and I never, ever want it to be that loud. It makes you want to put in ear plugs!

  41. Dave Navarre permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:11 PM

    Well, if it puts them out of business, they’ll stop doing it. Apparently, it’s not. Those of us over 40 not going into the stores must not be hurting them at all.

    I would bet that a whole bunch of the kids who wander into those stores either have their iPods cranked to the music they love, or enjoy the nonsense they’re playing. I was talking to a manager at one clothing store who lamented that corporate policy forbid her employees from listening to their own iPods because some one them played their iPods so loud that customers complained. I wondered to myself why the fact that her employees wouldn’t have been able to hear anything at any level of iPod noise didn’t bother management – only that excessively loud pod-playing caused them to forbid it.

    • February 15, 2011 3:23 PM

      Not yet. We are a couple of generations of people who put up with a lot of social crap. A LOT. We don’t have actual revolutions, we just whine and complain a lot, hence the blog. Once enough people find their voice and get a strong enough desire for change, things change. This seems to be the way things are done in the Free World.

  42. stoptheinvasionoforegon permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:16 PM

    thats funny I have the same picture on my blog- the one about stop needless noise-

  43. February 15, 2011 2:17 PM

    I can’t even walk by Abercrombie and Fitch. I tried going in one day and I fled. I rarely go to malls anymore. If I have to go to a store in the mall, I just go there and then home. Maybe it’s my age, but seeing hordes of people with shopping bags filled with stuff they probably don’t need is depressing.

    • February 15, 2011 7:29 PM

      Not to mention the smell that fills that place that makes your nostrils burn!

  44. February 15, 2011 2:29 PM

    I am so with you! I can’t understand why many businesses make shopping so intolerable for people who actually have money to spend. My biggest pet peeve are restaurants and stores, particularly grocery stores, that lower the temperature to meat-locker levels. There can be no lingering for dessert or impulse buying when I’m freezing to death.

    • February 15, 2011 3:22 PM

      Rule #1 of retail that they are ignoring to their detriment: make the customer happy. I was just recently run out of my neighborhood grocery store due to music I hate. And I could usually rely on that store never to play that kind of music. Okay, country. You pulled it out of me.

  45. anonnickus permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:37 PM

    Instead of thinking of yourself as old but having money to spend see yourself truthfully… from their persective. We are old and want to hang on to our money. The ‘hang onto it’ part makes us a waste of time as a potential customer. Rather than hire extra staff that can’t relate to us anyway they just make a pre-emptive strike and chase us out of the store ahead of time. This is a simple and effective marketing strategy. No offense is intended though some is taken as I’ve read above. P.S. I love the molasses in the fjord.

    • February 15, 2011 3:19 PM

      ooh, if you saw my bank balance, you’d know i have no real strong need to hang on to my money… but like my mother, who died with wads of money clutched in her claws, I ain’t just handing it out for crap I don’t believe in… 😉 Money is a HUGE issue in society. HUGE. How we spend it, what we value, is part of what defines us. Blog entry to come, I can just feel it.

  46. Maggie permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:09 PM

    They’re not necessarily marketing just the clothing or whatever it is they’re selling. They’re marketing and selling an entire experience; the clothing, items, music, scent in the store, how the store is laid out and decorated, etc.

    I like your post – very true.

    • February 15, 2011 3:48 PM

      This is very interesting, and I will have to think about it before I come up with a rant. First, I need to do more research, and go to the Mall of America. Now, that’s an experience.

    • fireandair permalink
      February 15, 2011 4:39 PM

      I think sometimes they are trying to sell their store as being like a dance club or something, only without watered-down drinks.

  47. johnlmalone permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:15 PM

    It’s a good topic, Alison. I’ve been meaning to write an article about this for some time and now I’ve been inspired by your article I probably will. I complain now and then to management through the concierge about noise level and for a time it gets better. Perhaps if more people compain?

    • February 15, 2011 3:46 PM

      i do think it’s about time we make a stand on this. Why, I don’t know. Maybe we should just let avoidant behavior impart its own message. Write about it!! Absolutely!!

  48. February 15, 2011 3:50 PM

    There is absolutely no excuse for playing music that loud. I used to work in a mall and the store across from me blared it so loud it drowned out the mall music! I felt so sorry for the kiosk workers outside of it.
    And yes, you would think that if they kept the “music” to a dull roar, you’d spend more time in there enough to buy an additional item.

    • February 15, 2011 3:56 PM

      I think this is the point… the noise levels are driving everyone insane, but no one is complaining because they’ve been told by the managers “on high” that this is the “new” way to do this. Customers HAVE to complain if anything is going to change. Upper management does not listen to its lower order workers; only customer response has any affect.

  49. February 15, 2011 3:56 PM

    Read an article that found different types of music affect buying decisions.

    Abercrombie blasts music to distort your decision making.
    Other stores will play slower songs to make you linger in nostalgia, nationalism, or other feelings of comfort while you’re shopping.

    It’s just another way the capitalist aspects of our culture are exploiting people’s subconscious minds and manipulating their thoughts as consumers.

    • February 15, 2011 4:18 PM

      Yes, I think this is worth looking into. For those who resist the subliminal messages, if there are any, I say, more power to you; for everyone else, though, these responses are pretty predictable and are anticipated by marketers.

  50. February 15, 2011 4:18 PM

    I was shocked and joyfully amazed a few weeks ago when I friend and I (in the 27-35 demographic) entered a store fairly well geared to younger girls, filled with shiny, cheap jewelery and such, and found ourselves happily singing along with The Puppini Sisters (a musical trio specializing in 1940s-style close harmony and redubs of WWII era songs). It was the first time I’d been in any store in ages and actually enjoyed the music. It wasn’t ‘modern’. It wasn’t even from ‘our’ generation. But it was delightful enough that we asked the sales clerk who she was playing and made note of them. They earned two very-happy-to-return customers that day, even if the stuff they were selling wasn’t really geared to our age group! Hmmmm….

    • February 15, 2011 4:21 PM

      Someone was thinking outside the box in that store… it does happen. 🙂

  51. stocktoc permalink
    February 15, 2011 4:36 PM

    I actually had to leave a shoe store last weekend because the music made me feel like I was going to have a seizure at any second. I wondered if I should notify the manager that the volume was too loud. Now I’m beginning to rethink my decision to simply retreat away from the store as quickly as possible.

    • February 15, 2011 4:51 PM

      Good. I think it’s time people stood up and said something. It’s just that life is already unpleasant enough, and then you add the drive and traffic and unpleasantness of shrieking children in the backseat, and you end up with cacophony, and then you’re rear-ending the person in front of you while you’re waiting at the light. No, wait; that happened to me, not you. 😉

  52. February 15, 2011 5:24 PM

    I so hear you about the music. The fact that they are playing it all is bothersome enough. But that would at least be tolerable if they would just lower the volume down to a level that does not damage my ears.

    • February 15, 2011 9:19 PM

      Yeah, exactly. I don’t think the music itself is the problem or needs to go away. It’s the volume.

  53. February 15, 2011 5:33 PM

    I’ve noticed this in the U.S. at stores like Abercrobie and Fitch, Macy’s and other mall department stores and it’s admittedly pretty obnoxious. But, even more obnoxious is this same tactic expounded in South Korea. I’ve lived here for six months now and every time I walk by any store I feel like my ears are bleeding. They blast music from cell phone shops, apparel stores, make-up shops; pretty much anywhere that sells anything. Even ice cream or cupcake shops. It’s ridiculous. I hope the U.S. never gets to the same level.

  54. February 15, 2011 6:12 PM

    Great post! I guess we could all live like hermits and order everything from Amazon.com. But wait they attempt to sway us too on their site by giving you suggested items.

    I tell my teens all the time, if you are trying to BE cool chances are you are NOT cool. By shopping at these places they are attempting to fit in to a society/clique/friend circle that will largely forget them once they leave high school. I mean, really, how many of us post 35 years old still hang out with friends we had in high school when we just had too look cool just like them??

    Robert

  55. dafteen permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:16 PM

    i’m a teenager and i think most of the music is atrocious. tacky with optimism and gaudy or mangy otherwise. it really needs to stop; most of us teenagers/almost adults have enough of an attitude or arrogance to hate the music that is targeted towards us anyways. blasting justin bieber would make me want to burn the store down instead of buy its crap. maybe some rave music would be great tho 😛

    • February 15, 2011 9:17 PM

      I don’t think going to a rock concert (in terms of loudness) is what people are looking for, though. It’s just shopping…

  56. anyamariepiper permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:21 PM

    I’ve got five kids, loud music in a store is nothing compared to what I get to deal with on a daily occurrence. But I think as for loud music in stores, I think there needs to be a balance of sorts. The younger generation loves it loud, at least from what I’ve seen watching my own children (and working with teenagers for several years). But the question may always be what is that balance. I am a huge fan of metal/hardcore music, but I don’t like it loud, (at least not bleeding ears loud) unless I subject myself to a live performance, I wouldn’t expect it. Of course who’s to say my too loud isn’t what your too loud is?!?!?! regardless, I definitely don’t see it changing anytime soon… Interesting post, I’m glad I stumbled up on it. 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 9:15 PM

      Loud is whatever hurts your ears and prevents you from thinking and/or making good decisions. If it’s so loud that this many people are complaining, you know there’s a societal problem that is larger even than five kids in a family can create. 😉

      • anyamariepiper permalink
        February 16, 2011 12:01 PM

        Guess that’s why we’ve got Internet Shopping for, lol 😉

      • February 16, 2011 2:28 PM

        I pretty much only shop online. It has saved me years of time not looking for a parking space at my mall.

  57. February 15, 2011 6:36 PM

    Where I work at you can change the station and volume. So if someone says it’s too loud or I can’t hear the customer because it’s too loud I just turn it down. I don’t have a problem with that. Hot topic is the one that is usually too loud and screamo but I guess that’s what I expect when I go in there. I just don’t stay long because I can’t think.

    • February 15, 2011 9:13 PM

      No one can think. It’s not just you. This is clearly bothering a lot of people.

  58. February 15, 2011 6:44 PM

    I’m only in my 20s and I still don’t care for half the music in stores.

  59. February 15, 2011 7:09 PM

    Well, maybe this is what they think. You are older, more mature and less likely to splurge. The younger crowd are easily swayed and spend excessively because they are at the age where things like appearance is important on a huge level next to other things and their major target market are teenagers who love that cacophony. Hot Topic is a store catering to punk culture and the music is most likely reflective of that. Punk is not a genre everyone can enjoy but the issue with music it is very subjective depending upon individual taste.

    • February 15, 2011 9:10 PM

      I know I’m not “less likely to splurge”. Lordy, if only that were true. 😉 I do think this issue transcends taste. I could easily put up with otherwise horrible music if it was played at a volume I could tolerate.

  60. February 15, 2011 7:26 PM

    I’m not annoyed by the style of music so much as the volume (isn’t it supposed to be “background” music?) I understand the concept of matching the style of music to the product, but even teenagers usually want to talk to each other while they’re shopping. Hot Topic is the worst. Last time we visited there they were featuring some sort of hideous growling. My 16-year-old heavy-metal-loving son was even offended. The drugstore and grocery store usually play music from the ’70s or ’80s which is fine, but it’s so loud it makes my eyes water. Grocery shopping is nervewracking (and I agree with nowandthenadays – chilly) enough without the addition of loud noises. And yes, at a restaurant, I would love to talk to my luncheon or dinner companions and the server without shouting.

    I wish they would dispense with music altogether in stores and restaurants. Most people have some sort of portable music player that they can plug into if they can’t live without noise for an hour, and would undoubtedly prefer to select their own tunes anyway.

    • February 15, 2011 9:08 PM

      I have to wonder if this is all an attempt to distract us from the fact that their stuff is crap…?

  61. February 15, 2011 7:27 PM

    My mom passed a kidney stone a few years ago and the pain started in an Abercrombie store. She swears it was brought on by the loud obnoxious screaming music. She had an armful of clothes she wanted to get as Christmas gifts and had to literally drop them and get out of there to find a hospital. To this day she won’t set foot in the store because it brings back “painful” memories!

    • February 15, 2011 9:06 PM

      OMG, your poor mother! But it makes me laugh, too! That’s a great story!

  62. February 15, 2011 7:37 PM

    I’m only 18. To be honest, I hate stores that blast loud music. I don’t step into a shop that blasts loud music, coz it not only will spoil my mood to shop, I couldn’t find anything nice from that shop.

    • February 15, 2011 9:03 PM

      You are not alone! This seems to be the common response to loud music. Everyone is pretty sick of it.

  63. February 15, 2011 8:12 PM

    I am writing this from the hair salon I frequent, a rather trendy place I can tell because of the music they’re playing–acid rock. I hate it but I like my hairdresser so I can’t leave. I’m being held prisoner, waiting for the “special effects” they’ve put in my hair to do their job, and all I really want to do is scream! Thank you for hitting the nail on the head. Love your post!

    • February 15, 2011 9:02 PM

      I used to have a special salon I went to, but she played blaring Axel Rose. Now, I am full of opinions (no big surprise) and I said to her, “so, what 20 year old cranked that shit up?” and she got offended cause it was her favorite “music.” So I found a new hair salon, of course.

  64. February 15, 2011 8:18 PM

    oh…nice to see this !

  65. February 15, 2011 9:37 PM

    You are so right. Although my age slants closer to the younger demographic, walking into stores like Forever 21 with the pounding music and neon white decor is how I imagine an aneurysm feels.

  66. Mary Carter permalink
    February 15, 2011 10:08 PM

    I’ve always been very aware of loud noise and needless racket because my mother was deaf and noise was her enemy, it kept her from hearing people speaking when wearing her hearing aid. Kids today do not realize what all the loud music is doing to their hearing. Retailers are doing them no favors by playing music so loudly in their stores. I hate shopping on my best day and all the extraneous noise in the mall doesn’t help. Or in the grocery store or the restaurant, for that matter. Ugh.

  67. February 15, 2011 11:58 PM

    I watched a series of BBC documentaries about something along these lines. Search the internet revolution with Dr. Krakowski and you should be able to find it. It’s really very interesting and I’m sure you’d appreciate it. She talks about how the internet is used to monitor and track our behaviors and spending patters, how ads are specifically targeted to specific consumers and how easily this information is swapped back and forth between big companies.

  68. elyse betters permalink
    February 16, 2011 12:11 AM

    Hollister and American Eagle are just as bad. I am 23 and I avoid those stores at all costs because I know that after 10 minutes of shopping, I will have a raging headache. What’s worse, is Abercrombie and Fitch. Not only do you need earplugs to shop there, you need a flashlight. They keep the store lighting so dim that I run into tables while I shop!

    • February 16, 2011 11:47 AM

      I haven’t had to go into Abercrombie since my daughter grew up and declared it off-limits, and my relief is palpable. You haven’t experienced American excess until you’ve paid $140 for a pair of your teenager’s white jeans that are then loaned to a best friend who spills beer all over them, and then you have to get them clean, because your child has to fit in. Deep sigh.

  69. February 16, 2011 2:08 AM

    I absolutely agree with you. Sometimes I think I cant concentrate on what I need to buy. This means I will have paid for stuff which I could have avoided if the music wasn’t too blaring. I hope we can send your blog to all the malls.

    • February 16, 2011 11:45 AM

      I think the consensus is that malls are going crazy. Say something to store managers next time you’re in one and see what happens.

  70. February 16, 2011 4:10 AM

    Interesting read, and very true. Thank you.

    • February 16, 2011 11:44 AM

      Thank you for reading! I hope you come back, since I will not be blaring music at you. 🙂

  71. February 16, 2011 4:45 AM

    Amen! This is so true. What I really can’t stand is that I can’t even hear myself think in stores nowadays… And I’m a teenager. 😛

    • February 16, 2011 11:43 AM

      I doubt I could have tolerated the noise when I was a teenager; no, I know I couldn’t have. People used to have to drag me to rock concerts; I don’t want to go to one every time I buy a jar of goo.

  72. February 16, 2011 4:49 AM

    Sadly for us Brits this trend is spreading to the UK as well now. Fortunately it can be used to quickly identify the more terrible shops that one would wish to steer clear of anyway. The shitness of the music is directly proportionate to the quality of the product and annoyingness of the staff.

    • February 16, 2011 11:41 AM

      Yes, that IS sad. I go to Europe to escape this madness. So cut it out! 🙂

  73. February 16, 2011 5:31 AM

    I agree, the noise (that’s not music!), the smells,the crowds, ugh! nothing worse than shopping. I have noticed the explosion of “choices” for basic things like toothpaste and i’m glad you explained it. Kind of sickening though, isn’t it?I am a raving anti-consumer-ist and hope i imparted this to my children. I have only taken them to the mall once (they’re 17, 15 and 11). If they want to buy junk, it IS with their own money(birthday gifts from relatives) and they have to get there themselves….

    • February 16, 2011 11:41 AM

      Good, make it hard for them. And then, when you can, take them to China or something and show them how the workers live. The argument is that they’re doing better now than they were as peasants 100 years ago, and sure, maybe in some ways that’s true. It doesn’t change the fact that Beijing is polluted so that America can have more stuff. Are we levelling the playing field for these people, or helping to destroy a culture?

  74. February 16, 2011 6:03 AM

    Great Post! When I take my daughter shopping we always laugh about not being able to talk in certain stores (Abercrombie.) I don’t think I am to old to think it is cool, but even she thinks it is stupid. When she tries on clothes, she can never get my attention and we have to yell at each other to speak. It is even hard to speak with the employees….Love your site

    • February 16, 2011 11:38 AM

      I no longer think this is an age issue, since everyone who is responding is from a different age group. Clearly, this is a larger issue.

  75. February 16, 2011 7:15 AM

    As an interior designer, this article is right up my alley. There is nothing worse than creating a beautiful retail space only to have it barely looked at as they run customers out of the store with blaring music! The teenagers don’t really care if the store looks nice or not; but, from my perspective (and yours), they aren’t spending their money anyway. So, cater the design (and the music) to the one with the money to spend.

    Also, speaking of an earlier comment about Hollister and A&F, you should do a post about scents in a store as well. Hollister, A&F and Banana Republic are notorious for blasting their signature fragrance throughout the entire store. Just another way to drive out customers! Scents are are taste specific and people who don’t find a scent appealing typically find it extremely irritating to their sensory glands. They won’t bother sticking around either! Some of them are so bad, I can smell them as I am approaching the store….and as I keep right on walking by. I don’t want to smell it and I certainly don’t want to smell like it the rest of the day.

    Great article!

    • February 16, 2011 11:36 AM

      So interesting… where have aesthetics gone, you know? I fear the end of peace and quiet, and the beginning of the era of entire chaos. This issue of scents/smells is SO BIZARRE. I will have to investigate by assaulting my senses with scent. ARGH. Not looking forward to this. I do not willingly get up off my couch.

  76. February 16, 2011 7:26 AM

    I have to agree! You’re absolutely right! I hate the fact that everything’s mch louder now 😦

  77. Linda permalink
    February 16, 2011 8:07 AM

    I’m so happy to finally see this issue coming into focus. I have not shopped for years not even on their cyber stores. The lack of respect for the consumer is appalling. The music is very big as a deterrent and so are the styles and quality of goods. I don’t want to move away from this topic though. I live in the city and work in he city and don’t want to pay the astronomical parking and gas prices so I take the bus to work. I can have a person in front of me, next to me, and behind me all playing music so loud I can identify the style and sometimes the artist. Three different noised to filter my own sanity through. An often that is not the end of it. I can hear the person’s music in the seat across the isle. Sometimes if I ask someone to please turn it down they will, other will turn it up! Can you imagine such a deliberate action. I feel sorry for the karma they will earn for that good deed.

    • February 16, 2011 11:34 AM

      Oh yes, I can entirely imagine it, since it has happened to me on more than one occasion. It brings out the inner mean child in some people to be asked (even asked nicely) not to do something. It pokes at some inner wound. This is where our ability to forgive their inner brat comes in handy, and find a Zen space inside your mind in which to hide. 😉

  78. Dessa Finnerty permalink
    February 16, 2011 8:08 AM

    Before I read this, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I feel so much better now. I’m not crazy (well maybe I am, but at least not about this). I, too, have pretty much stopped shopping because of the background music that never seems to be in the background. Not only is it too loud, but today’s “musicians” don’t seem to be able to stay on key. I may not have perfect pitch (which would be excrutiatingly painful in today’s pop culture), but trying to listen to groups that are both instrumentally and vocally flat is like nails on a chalkboard. Thanks for sharing.

    • February 16, 2011 11:32 AM

      Nails on chalkboard… yes, and who wants to listen to that when you’re shopping? You know, the thing is, shopping used to be a way people relaxed. Women would go shopping together to bond, have a good time, go to lunch. it was a way to spend an afternoon. I see that slipping away from our culture now.

  79. February 16, 2011 12:39 PM

    Those Howard Beale moments when we are as mad as hell and not going to take it any more seem to be piling up but with the lights way down low and the music as loud as hell (a&f) who can hear us??? And who cares? The offenders certainly don’t. Not while they are balancing the books at least, and, if it is mainly parents handing over the cash then surely we can take our own advice – just say NO. We can do it! Can’t we . . . ?

    • February 16, 2011 2:27 PM

      Parents need to learn to stand up to their kids. Who’s in charge here, anyway?!?

  80. February 17, 2011 9:40 PM

    Very nice, a bit angry for my liking, but I can understand that.

    I’m still really young (20, 21 in less than three weeks) and I’m also a musician. I like to get nice clothes to make me feel better prepared for public appearances but I would never go to any store that is loud and smelly. I don’t know how people my age can think that shopping at places like that are even worth the garbage you have to go through to get what you want. I almost only shop online now, which is fine for me because if something doesn’t fit or look right, I can return it and not get stuck with something I regret buying.

    The convenience of being able to shop for clothes from a larger selection and with my own choice of music (playing at a reasonable volume) makes for a much better shopping experience. I could also be doing something productive while I think things through. I don’t have kids but I know I was a pain to my parents, just not THAT much of a pain.

    • February 17, 2011 9:44 PM

      I think the common consensus is that a reasonable volume would make this so much easier to endure, yes. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  81. February 21, 2011 8:53 PM

    Oh, my gosh! I so get this! My daughter is 13… she LOVES “Forever 21″… and I can’t stand going in there. Fortunately, she is willing to let me sit outside of the store while she shops (and no, it’s not really because she doesn’t want to be seen with me; we haven’t crossed that bridge yet, lol) She just knows I don’t like it, and so we usually grab one of her friends to go… and I have yet to spend any money in there! She’s only gone when Gramma sends her a gift card! But I agree, it’s kind of offensive to us -nearly-“50 overweight white women” to have to listen to that crap.
    A funny aside – my daughter has been watching very little TV over the last 6 months – but she watched for awhile today, and was amazed at the commercials – how she’d “forgotten” about certain items she’d previously thought she “needed”… and her own realization of how those marketing folks work!

    • February 21, 2011 8:58 PM

      We have to reclaim our self-respect. This is the only answer I can come up with. 😉 “Letting you sit outside of the store…” has a certain pathos. My mother used to say, “who’s in charge here??” about me and my child, and I’d whimper and say “she is.” See?? This is where we lose our self-respect, letting them run us like that.

  82. Eells Consulting permalink
    February 22, 2011 10:57 AM

    Sadly businesses do nto pay attention to the entire customer experience. Worse yet, they really mess up their “brand” by making such mindless reactionary steps with music.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • February 22, 2011 11:15 AM

      Yes, I think that in the long run (let’s say, the next 2 years, a long time for a business) they will catch on to the fact that they are losing more customers than they are “pleasing” with this constant assault on the eardrums.

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