Goofy's Retail Report™, v2.3

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By Goofyhoofy
November 29, 2007

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Since retail reports seem to be popular on the Fool boards, I thought I would throw my first one in, titled v2.3 just to add some gravitas.

I'm thinking of getting Mrs. Goofy a Nano for Christmas, and having purchased nothing from Apple for personal use over the years except about 20 of their fine home computers (and my sad experience with an iPhone, I thought I would venture to the Apple Store in my local mall and get some help on things like "how much" and "which cables" and "huh, earbuds?" and stuff like that.

But excuse me while I digress, which I occasionally do in all my Retail ReportsTM including this one, which as I mentioned, is my first. When I went looking for a flat screen TV a year or so ago, I recall walking past a Dell kiosk which was hawking them and I took a looksee. I mention this only because the Dell kiosk has moved - from far down the mall to about 50 yards from the entrance to the Apple Store. It made for an interesting contrast, not to mention the question of "Why did they move?" Heh.

The Dell kiosk is one of those cheesy little cart thingies, piled high with some flat screen monitors flashing their specials ("SuperDuper Headphones, only $3/mo.") [Do people buy headphones on the installment plan?] Anyway, I realize that calling their kiosk "cheesy" might be seen as overt editorializing, so please substitute a less pejorative word. Possibly "forlorn" or "junky" are better choices to preserve my illusion of objectivity.

Nevertheless, in the 10 minutes that I sat and ate my ice cream at the shop directly opposite, I noted that exactly one person stopped at the kiosk, and that was to ask directions to some other store. The lone employee, a fattish, balding and middle-aged fellow with 5 o'clock shadow (at 2:30 in the afternoon) made no pretense of keeping himself busy, he merely sat slumped on his stool, waiting for his day to end (possibly to rush home to see the Corny Collins Show, I'll never know.)

Just shouting distance away was the Apple Store, a giant iPhone in the window, a silver Apple logo above the portal. Though it was a Tuesday afternoon at 2:30, I counted about 40 patrons - although I hasten to point out not all of them were buying something. Yes, the line was three-deep at both registers at the back of the store, but I definitely saw a Mom with two kids, probably 7 and 4, and I'm sure the four year old wasn't dropping his dime this early in the season.

I also counted at least 8 red-shirted employees not including at the Genius Bar, but it was hard to keep track since they kept answering people's questions and then bouncing over to help someone else. Like me. I waited possibly two minutes, which was just enough time to realize that I wasn't going to get my answers by reading the boxes when a young redshirt magically appeared. My questions, like most I suppose, were mundane: "How do I get the music into my wife's car radio?" (A '98 Acura, no audio jack), and "How do I get it to play through my home stereo?" and basic stuff like that.

The greeter at the door was pretty clueless, but she was at least pretty, if a bit too chirpy for my taste. But she led me to to the display, and then the 20-something redshirt appeared who knew every item on the accessories wall and explained them all to me with endless patience, each and every one that I pointed to.

All the while I kept noticing people fondling the products, laughing with each other, putting on headphones and so on and generally having a good time. I thought of poor Mr. 5:00 Shadow over at his kiosk, not having much holiday fun at all, and it made me sad.

Then I remember Michael Dell's quote when Steve Jobs returned and I decided I didn't really care, and that the marketing of the two brands was right there, on conspicuous display for the world to see. And I smiled.

One, a classy glassy feel good emporium, the other a living, breathing testament to cheese.

As with any retail report, The Goofy Retail ReportTM should note that not all the customers at the Dell kiosk were buying anything either. Well, there weren't any customers, but if there were, not all of them were buying something, which augurs badly for Dell in the next quarter.

I'll also explain that in the Apple Store I didn't buy anything, but I think I might have upgraded myself from a Nano to an iPod Touch, (I'm not sure yet) but that certainly augurs well for Apple's next quarter. Hey, $100 here, $100 there, before you know it you have another $100. (If any other retail analysts are still reading, I'll slip the inside info that my purchase will be late in December, so as to avoid having the Lady Goof see the charge on the MasterCard bill before she gets the present. As with the case of a woman her age, I will call this delay "Nanopause," a phrase I hope does not show up in the Annual Report.)

Well that's about it from the trenches. One sighting, 2:30 on a Tuesday. Try not to make too much of it.