Brick & Mortar

Last year I did a good 90% of my Christmas shopping online. This year, due to many circumstances, I am forced to do all of my shopping in brick and mortar stores. Last night I ventured out without the benefit of my wife, a seasoned shopper. For the sake of pending gift surprises, I’ll leave the names and places in this entry to the reader’s imagination—but I will say that I won a great battle and it felt pretty good.

At the first store where I made a purchase, the cashier asked for my phone number (with area code, of course). Here I was faced with a decision—I could do one of three options:

  • Give the cashier my phone number, thereby giving the store vast amounts of information about myself.
  • Give the cashier a false telephone number (I have in the past given out the phone number to my freshman dorm room from 10 years ago), resulting in a slight pang of the conscience.
  • Decline to give my number, possibly resulting in a meltdown for the cashier because he or she does not know what to do in such a situation.

Last night, I decided to go with the third option. I simply said, “I’d rather not give out that number.” The cashier quickly avoided any semblance of eye contact, furtively looking down to the register, hoping for an answer there. “I have a blank space in front of me,” the cashier must have been thinking, “what do I do now?” Thankfully, management didn’t have to be called in—I think the cashier just entered a few random numbers and completed my sale.

The whole experience was quite refreshing—an epiphany of sorts in the way that I shop. I suggest you try it too. Think about it—why do we so freely dispense of information that is not necessary to the sale?

The ironic thing about this is that I could not have been so bold as to withhold my information if I were ordering online. Most checkout pages have “required fields” where one must put a telephone number, so there are still some benefits to shopping brick & mortar style.