Shopping at Newark

The Newark International Airport is quite big.

I must have walked several kilometres both in Terminals B and C, looking for some gifts to buy. Surprisingly the security check was fast, it was also thorough and efficient. The one indignity is that one needs to remove his/her shoes, but that is fine. The other is that sometimes one is through the metal detector perfectly fine, but still gets frisked thoroughly and it most likely happened to Asians as I observed. But these days there is not much point arguing about security issues, one needs to comply with all that is required and/or asked at Immigration, including sometimes personal questions. Otherwise things work out fast in general.

Newark International Airport is a very crowded airport. Given also the cancellation of Europe-bound flights due to the volcanic ash problem, there was immense crowds everywhere. I walked around and observed that people were generally trying to kill time, having arrived much earlier at the airport. Most of the shops were also crowded. Compared to the quality and service level you get at Singapore Airport, Newark is a far cry – the shopping was not organized in a consumer friendly manner like what you see at Singapore, neither were the shopkeepers bothered about anyone walking in. There was only one shop that I went in which was different from the others I visited – that was the Metropolitan Museum of the Art shop. The girl at the shop was very helpful, and I ended up spending a tidy amount for a couple of nice gift items. In shops such as “Collection”, “Swatch”, etc., the shopkeeper did not come around and meet me, though I was the only shopper. In Swatch, I had to virtually drag the guy to help me out, and he appeared quite reluctant !

So, the shopping dollars flow towards helpful shopkeepers who go out of their way to greet and help out in the selection, knowing full well that the shopper is not that educated in shopping, and is quite vague about what he/she wishes to purchase. Persuasion is a skill, honed over the years. I was delighted to spend some money at the Metropolitan Shop, solely because of the shopkeeper girl, who helped me to decide on the things on which I showed some interest, and did not preclude me as a serious shopper.

Well, that is the retail lesson. At the end of the day, we either go with a specific objective of picking up a specific thing (like a bottle of diet coke at the Hudsons News Shop/CNBC Shop, which I did), or are quite vague when it comes to picking up that “special” gift for someone special, which creates some kind of anxiety. Smile and a Nice Persuasion of a sophisticated variety reduces the anxiety and helps move one towards a particular selection by providing more helpful data for making the decision.

In any case, happy shopping this weekend wherever you are,


Vijay Srinivasan
17th April 2010


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