Ever heard of the “pole of inaccessibility”? Me neither, until very recently. And when I heard about it, it made me think about all sorts of things in all of our lives.
In short, a pole of inaccessibility (POI) is someplace that is the most challenging to reach given some kind of geographic criterion. Most often, when people talk about a POI, they’re talking about somewhere that’s extremely far from a coastline, but you could measure from a paved road or a Waffle House or anything else you might choose.
In North America, the continental POI is on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It’s about 1,030 miles from the nearest coastline.
In Florida, the POI is a marshland on the eastern shores of Lake Arbuckle in Polk County, where I live. I have fished Lake Arbuckle, but never considered my inaccessibility to either coast. Turns out I was about 54 miles from either the Atlantic or the Gulf.
If you want to measure POI according to distance from any land mass, you’re talking about oceanic POI, and that spot is somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,670 miles from the nearest land. There are times when I want to “get away,” but that’s taking it too far.
Your retail shop has a POI, too.
Breaking down your store’s pole of inaccessibility
Let me suggest that you not measure it in a straight line to the front door. Rather, consider every twist and turn you must make to get there. Maybe your POI is nearer the middle of the shop than a corner. Maybe it’s inaccessible because of something other than distance. Maybe it’s inaccessible because it’s behind something or under something.
Whatever your POI, I believe it’s worth thinking about. If it’s the most inaccessible place in the shop, why is that true and are you okay with it? Does it need “fixing”? Can you make it more accessible or maybe lure more customers there by savvy product placement? Are you better off to stock seldom purchased items there or to put the hottest stuff you carry there? Are your customers rewarded for venturing into such a spot or have they wasted their time getting there?
Part of knowing your space is making it work for you. How is your POI doing that?
Antarctica’s POI is something of a legendary place. Naturally, it’s a frozen tundra covered with accumulating snow and ice. In 1958, the Soviets built a weather station there and mounted a bust of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (better known as Lenin) on top —about 30 feet above the ground. Because they found the place so remarkably inhospitable, the scientists abandoned the facility after just 12 days, leaving lock, stock and Lenin behind.
Today, it’s one of few surviving monuments to the communist revolutionary. Most were destroyed after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Today, if you go to that old weather station — something that someone does about every decade — you can still see the Lenin bust, but snow and ice are gobbling it up fast. Whereas it was once 30 feet high, now it’s about six or seven feet above the stark horizon. It will surrender to the elements soon.
What treasures are you hiding at your POI?