Soak Up The Sun

3 09 2011

My daughters know a good deal when they see one. With Mom out of town, it’s time to pour on the “I Love you, Dads” and then ask to do the one thing that most young girls like to do: Shop.

So shop we did last night. Of course, I made certain that the most important part was completed first (i.e., dinner). But then we ventured to World Market (the “I-Can’t-Get-Out-Of-Here-For-Under-$100-Store”), Academy, and later the mall. Oh, how I loathe the mall.

But to a 13- and 10-year-old girl, this is heaven.

Little did I know that by virtue of their shopping patterns (and believe me, at this age, they already have well-established patterns), I stumbled into today’s blog topic. Call it serendipity. Call it blind luck. But I saw one of the colest uses of the iPad yet. Yes, in a store for teens. Go figure.

Believe me, I was not at all impressed when we crossed the threshold of PacSun (no doubt revealing my age…or is it retail sophistication?). Over-priced t-shirts. Sales promos of dubious value (Buy One, Get One at 50% off). I explained to my 13-year-old this was really only a 25% discount. “But Da-a-a-ad…” she cried.

I acquiesced, and made my way to the cash wrap (that’s retail-speak for check-out stand). I mumbled a little (Dads do that a lot…at least this one does). I swiped my card (Hell, my card was already smokin’ from the last two places). I grabbed the bag.

And then I noticed the iPad on the counter. “What’s up with the iPad?” I asked.

Little did I know that I was beholding one of the latest deployments of the iPad. And little did my daughters know that they had just lost Dad. They could have wandered off to Rue 21 and I never would have noticed, for suddenly I was getting into this shopping expedition. “Hold on, girls. Dad wants to hang out a while.”

“It’s a way for customers to shop, mix and match accessories, and buy things we don’t actually have in the store,” she said. “We don’t have very much in this store. But our whole website is available through the iPad. We just let customers hold it, use it, and buy more things.”

She was talking about PacSun’s revolutionary new in-store retailing app. Genius. Sheer genius. You expect to see this kind of stuff in the Apple Store (where iPads now appear in front of every computer on display…a very cool high-tech selling tool, but implicit sales pitch for the iPad itself). But here I was in a teen store, a place no self-respecting adult would venture into without his kids.

She took me on a guided tour of the app. It links seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter, and users can email items to their friends. The camera can be used to scan QR codes (sprinkled liberally throughout the store, of course), and thus view more web content.

But most importantly,” she added, “it is a teaching tool for our male employees, so they can help female customers assemble an outfit.”

Yeah, right. I can see the guys studying this at home after work.

Truth be known, everyone in PacSun could use a little help in assembling outfits. Some of the outfits displayed on the app were hideous. Ratty t-shirts. Short patterned skirts. Torn tights. Ugly shoes. You get the picture.

Which is, in retrospect, how a lot of teen girls dress these days. God help us all.

I wound up spending more time talking to the clerk than my daughters spent shopping. I know I probably embarrassed them. “Bailee, get a load of Dad. He actually digs this place,” Becca was probably thinking. “Let’s get out of here. Rue 21 is just down the mall.”

All told, I counted the trip a success. It’s not often when Dad comes home from a girl outing feeling this good about things. Dads aren’t supposed to enjoy these outings anyway.

Across town, I heard of a Metro Sectional sofa set at Big Lots. “The Metro Sectional. For the well-coiffed urban couch potato,” I texted back in response to the picture. Now that’s weird.

Anyone want to go shopping tonight? I just need to find my Man Bag.

Dr “Don’t Worry, Be Appy” Gerlich

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