I’m not exactly sure what the intended message was, but I know what I learned today… people like free stuff, even if they have no idea what that free stuff might be. We are consumers and the best deal, of course, involves a four-letter f-word.
A couple hours ago I wandered down to witness the opening of the Free Store in Edmonton’s City Center Mall. For the last day or so, the space (a long since-closed GAP) with it’s frosted over windows has been enigmatically advertising “100% off” sales and “Buy None Get One Free” events. All of it: One Day Only…?
It was due to open, one day only, at 10 AM this morning to give away precisely eight-hundred free items of undisclosed… well… anything. It was a big secret. A marketing… something or other, I guess.
Or maybe it was awareness? “Give away some local merch and get the word out. Eight hundred things? That’s not really that much cost to build a swell of interest.” Someone else might have proposed.
“How many people can we get out to this thing?”
The answer to all those was answered when at 10 AM this morning hundreds — possibly eight hundreds — lined up, plugging up the spacious corridors of the mall, clogging the second story glass pedway over the chilly winter road, and trailing back into a neighboring office tower.
I wandered the line and noted all sorts: moms with strollers and young’uns in tow, students, folks in business suits, quasi-celebrities (aka… TV personalities) and… well, no one I could butt in line with anyhow.
Tweets followed: coffee mugs, local furniture, t-shirts were shelved neatly in the store. People were being let in in controlled groups. I wait across the way, phone-cam at the ready. I saw a woman carry out a gawd-awful pink, steel-tube-legged side table. Really? The first guy out apparently (according to a tweet) took a coffee mug. Exciting, huh?
Are 800 people wrong to be drawn like moths to a flame at the word free? I can’t say. I was there (not in line, but there) because like everyone else my curiosity just got the better of me. But, it was… well… an interesting experiment by someone. I just wish I knew their hypothesis… and if it was right or wrong.