I know that most people dread going to the mall for their holiday shopping. It has progressed to the point where it is an advertised accomplishment; people around me gleefully exclaiming the completion of all of their shopping without ever stepping foot into a store. As I set out for the mall, the questions and urgings to ‘shop online’ rain down upon me. Don’t get me wrong … I am completely happy to shop online, but there is something about the holidays that compels me to the old brick & mortar stores.
The other night, I set out for our local sprawl of consumerism. As I wove up and down the aisles of the completely full lot, I took note of the people hustling to and fro, their icy exhalations puffing from their mouths. It immediately felt more like Christmas. I swung into a miraculously open spot, only third from the front of a row. Rock star parking! Walking into the mall, completely decorated with the lights and trimmings of the season, it just felt like the official kick-off to the entire holiday tradition. But the real bonus to shuffling through the physical shopping process is the people that you meet. There are always a number of interestingly challenged seasonal helpers, that while well intentioned, simply don’t have the training to really help the process much. Conversely, you also run into top notch salespeople that demonstrate a level of creativity and persistence that is amazing.
This year, on the way out of the mall at closing time, I ran into Edward, the Dead Sea Salt selling machine from Israel. Ed, as he introduced himself, was working the Dead Sea products cart strategically positioned in your path as you make the last turn to head out the atrium and into the parking lot. He asked me if I had just a minute for a demonstration. He had an energy and vitality, that assuming he had been working all day, was irresistible. Sure, why not. Within moments, he had me rubbing my hands in Dead Sea Salt, extolling the incredible healing properties, while spritzing my hands with a water bottle. Next, we applied a tiny dollop of the accompanying heavy hand cream, and I must admit, it was an amazing difference. When I heard the price for what was likely Morton Salt tossed into fancy glass jars, I immediately started saying my goodbyes.
Undaunted, Ed asked to show me one more thing. He quickly grabbed a rectangular block with different color sides. Asking for my hand, he first used the blue side, then the black side, and finally the white side to buff the nail of my middle finger. Within moments, he took what was a normal looking nail and had placed a shine on it that you could actually use to check for food stuck in your own teeth. As I stood wide-eyed, inspecting that solitary damn shiny nail, Ed was showing me the complete line of nail products. When I informed Ed that I really didn’t want to walk around with one shiny nail, he quickly grabbed a bottle of nail polish remover, a cotton ball, and feverishly rubbed the nail. After toweling it off, he was happy to inform me that the shine was impervious to nail polish remover as it wasn’t a polish product, but rather a very smooth and healthy nail. I stood motionless, squinting at the glare from my middle finger … thinking that if were forced to give somebody an inappropriate hand gesture, I should try to remember to use the other hand.
With a warm smile on his face, I think Ed knew he had me, so I did the only think I could do. I negotiated for some product on the condition he threw in a magic rectangle so that I could even out my nails. As I walked away shaking my head, I felt vindicated. I do like going to the stores during the holidays. I like it because there is no Ed in the online world. There isn’t a way for a salesperson to pull you in through the sheer force of their will. There isn’t the opportunity to hear their passion for selling, convincing and negotiating. And there sure isn’t the opportunity to walk away laughing with one really shiny nail.