Correlation Isn’t Causation

Just read this interesting article by John Staddon in The Atlantic.  It’s about traffic and the difference between the signage in the UK and the signage in the US (and their negatively correlated traffic death statistics).  But it’s more potently about how Americans prefer to be able to drive the speed they want around a blind curve at night in the rain without consequence.  It’s about how this society craves freedom but expects rules and restrictions.  And about how when rules are lifted and we’re expected to use our own judgment, we fear our own inadequacies and the inadequacies of others.  We are reluctant to expect ourselves and our neighbours to make effective decisions.  And so, despite our desire for freedom, we crave the signage that John argues is making our roads less safe and our traffic-related deaths higher.  Strange.

APPLE STORES FREAK ME OUT

I once went into an Apple store solely to look at their bags.  As I strode through the center aisle of birch tables, at least 5 employees said hello to me.  I responded to the first and was so startled by the rest I failed to respond.  It would have been like a bad Three Stooges episode.  “Hi. Hello. Hey! Wassah!”

After spending 15 minutes looking at bags (with 2 employees asking if we needed help finding anything), I again passed through the hall of birch.  The same girl that had first said hello saw me and said, “Thanks,” I expected for her to continue with, “for coming in.”  But instead she continued with, “for saying hi to me.”  Hm.  Thanks for saying hi to me.  Sad comment on her life or the state of her apple store?  or passive aggressive attack for my reaction to being bombarded by salutations?

SHUTTLE MISSION IMAGERY

( 10 June 2008 ) Astronaut Karen Nyberg, STS-124 mission specialist, looks through a window in the newly installed Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the station. Photo S124-E-008613.

I love this image because it show weightlessness and the earth.  I wonder what part she’s looking at…?

June June June and Small Business Etiquette

In their recent newsletter, the kids at That Yarn Store posted a list of celebratory dates in June

  • June 13 Blame Someone Else Day
  • June 13 Sewing Machine Day
  • June 17 Eat Your Vegetables Day
  • June 17 World Juggler’s Day
  • June 18 Go Fishing Day
  • June 18 International Panic Day
  • June 18 National Splurge Day
  • June 19 World Sauntering Day
  • June 20 Ice Cream Soda Day
  • June 21 Finally Summer Day
  • June 21 Go Skate Day
  • June 21 National Hollerin’ Contest Day
  • June 22 National Chocolate Eclair Day
  • June 23 National Pink Day
  • June 23 Take Your Dog to Work Day
  • June 24 Swim a Lap Day
  • June 25 Log Cabin Day
  • June 25 National Catfish Day

The kids over at Holiday Insights can confirm most of these.

Speaking of small businesses, if you’re looking for yarn or a place to teach you to knit, forget Target, shop at that yarn store over in Eagle Rock. What’s the name of that place again? Oh yeah.

The thing is, they seem very near to closing.

They seem to understand market economy theory, just not how to market themselves. They appear to be trying to market themselves in a loosey goosey sort of way with their irregular hours and down home website. But if they want to compete with the big boxes, they’ve got to get up to speed with what today’s consumer wants and expects.

In podunk Kansas, I’m sure that they’d have their finger on what their local consumer wants and expects. It’d be pretty obvious and most small business owners would understand it tacitly, being a direct part of the marketplace themselves. But in Los Angeles, the marketplace is one of the most cosmopolitan cultures in North America! You can’t assume you know what your market is going to need, want or expect. So you HAVE TO assume the worst. You have to assume that they want the box store feel.

So how does a small business in a little midwest niche of Los Angeles compete with box stores? Well, among other things, by having regular hours. That Yarn Store is well-located. It has a big sign and seemingly lots of neighbourhood outreach. But they have to be able to reach out on many different levels: to the consumer who appreciates local and to the consumer who wants convenience, organization, and easy-to-remember hours.

Consumers who know that Target is open 9 am to 9 pm don’t want to have to check That Yarn Store’s website before they leave their apartment to know what their hours are. Their hours should be easy to remember.

Well that’s the end of my rant, here’s a link to their rant about why they might have to close their doors soon. I hope they don’t.

I have several friends who knit.