Obsolescence and Opulence

I was in Atlanta for a few days last week. My wife attends a paper crafting workshop each year, and I go with her. I set up my office in a nice hotel room (the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead) and generally get quite a bit done without the usual distractions in my everyday office.

The Grand Hyatt is a fancy hotel (at least by my standards), and it should be when you consider the rates they charge. (It’s $25 per day just to park in a deck that’s unattended and unattached to the hotel.) The rooms are comfortable, the staff is friendly and the views of area parking, traffic and construction are awe inspiring.

After getting to our room, my wife habitually asks me to clean up some of the things studies have shown to be the most germ-ridden in hotels — particularly the phone and the television remote. We carry some of those disinfecting wipes just for that purpose.

I’m not sure why I clean hotel phones in this age of cell phones, but I do.

Having taken care of the petri dishes in the room, I took my toiletries kit to the bathroom and saw “it” — attached to the far wall, right next to the toilet.

A telephone.

That’s right. There was a wall phone right NEXT. TO. THE. TOILET!


Now, it wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a phone in a hotel bathroom, but it was still surprising in this age when everyone has their own phone in a pocket or purse.

What was it doing there? And what sort of death wish does the Grand Hyatt think I have that I would use such a phone? Who could I possibly call on the deadly device, Dr. Kevorkian?

For some reason, there was no skull and crossbones on the receiver, which I’m guessing is a violation of a dozen or more federal labelling regulations.

I suppose I could dial 9-1-1 on such a thing, but given the density of lethal microbes on the phone’s surface, I doubt I’d live long enough to get to the final “1.” Better to just hurl myself out the 11th floor window and hope for the best.

But I digress.

I’m actually not that much of a germ-o-phobe, but I did find the bathroom phone amusing enough that I took a photo. For reasons I can’t fathom, it got me thinking about how it might relate to retail tackle shops.

I came up with this:

What services or products do you keep around even though they’ve outlasted their usefulness, their marketability or their relevance?

Is there a section of your store that just doesn’t get used by your customers anymore? Imagine that your display areas are a sandy beach. Where are the footprints at the end of the day? Some spots get heavily trampled. Others could be pristine and unmarked.

When considering those areas that are getting no traffic — or no one is breaking stride as they walk past — ask yourself why. Is it a seasonal issue? Are you offering the wrong products? What’s the problem there?

Consider giving every display area in your store a designation — a number or letter or something — and write down where each and every purchase comes from.

What are your hot spots? What are the cold spots?

The Walmarts of the world know how much money is being generated from every square foot of display space. It may not be necessary for you to be that molecular, but data like that tells an important story.

How can you reclaim the dead space and turn it into a profitable area?

How do you avoid the phone in the hotel bathroom?