Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Indian Filing Systems vs. The Dewey Decimal System

One of the things I don't understand is Little India....you know the Indian collection of stores that exists in and/or around most major American cities. Back home in LA it's in Cerritos, in Chicago it's Devon, in New Jersey it's well....the whole damn state but the capital is Edison.

When I say "I don't understand it" I don't mean that I'm unclear as to how such a place can occurs in nature, but rather how do the stores stay in business? My vast experiences in life have shown me that every India-Town has only 5 types of stores:
1) Food
2) CD/DVD/bootlegs
3) 220 Volt Appliances/ cheap luggage
4) Jewelry/Sari stores

5) phone cards!

Now obviously having multiple food and jewelry stores is understandable. Shopping for Japanese families is difficult; shopping for Indians is simple: show me the gold. (when I was younger I hated that jewelry and sari stores until I realized that that's where all the girls went).

But what I never really have understood and find bizarro is that there are literally dozens of CD/DVD stores who sell the exact same thing at the same prices. So much for product diversification. The fact that they all are located right next to each other isn't very helpful for maintaining profit margins either. One thing I do understand is that a lot of the guys seems related. I once was in Jackson Heights and upon requesting "Dil Chahta Hai" the video thug/goonda said "oh yes we have it" and then disappeared through a door in the back.....when I then saw him sprinting across the street to another store to pickup the DVD from someone else.

What's funnier is that most of these stores never give any special attention to actually organizing their crap (see picture above....you can see the back of my dad too). I mean you're selling a commodity product here people! At least try to win sales by making the ambiance appealing. Case & point, just look at the epic Indian Filing System in the picture above....and for those of you unfamiliar with the experience, the DVD's are not alphabetically ordered.

Usually asking the sales clerk if they have a video that is more than 30 days old results in him yelling to some other dude to look for it at which point he'll give a confused look as if to be in some pain, shuffle through a couple of DVD's randomly (which by the way is exactly what you were doing about 30 seconds earlier) and then sadly announce that they do not have it in stock.

This desi experience wouldn't be complete of course without noting one more thing.... in any other commercial interaction throughout the world the shopkeeper would at least suggest that they could always order the missing item even if he really has no idea how he would obtain it...but nooo, not here. The desi mentality is to make the shopper feel guilty for asking for the item. "Your movie is not here, it must not even be on DVD yet, you will have to come back in 3 weeks if you really want it."

And with that it is goodbye India Town, at least until I come back next week....

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1 comment:

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