Why Does Everything Look the Same?

Mobile post sent by brittraybould using Utterz Replies.  mp3


9 Responses to “Why Does Everything Look the Same?”

  1. 1 Caleb
    December 11, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Good point. I guess familiarity does breed contempt, in this case contempt for new places you visit.

    So what’s the solution? Maybe it’s the exercise that Seth Godin calls “zooming” – http://tinyurl.com/ys9d8z

  2. 2 Britt
    December 11, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Caleb: I think you’ve pointed out a great solution to the problem. Both businesses, and the individuals you visit them, need to practice zooming. What if local businesses got together and created a welcome/visitor packet that they handed out at the airport? They’d quickly and affordably distinguish themselves from the “chains” and make it easy for individuals to zoom.

  3. December 12, 2007 at 1:22 am

    Britt, good post. I actually think it’s more economics, the profit motive, the marketplace, and capitalism that has forced this homogeneity on the public, rather than the public overtly embracing it of our own accord.

    Why is there always an Applebee’s next to a Target next to a Chili’s right across from a Staples, a Best Buy and a La Quinta Inn? Joel Garreau, late of The Washington Post, wrote what I think is the seminal book on this phenomenon in 1991 — “Edge City: Life On The New Frontier”. Still a fascinating read.

  4. December 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Convenience is far more powerful than novelty. Novelty requires calories. In my case, I like to do a mix. I look for a Walgreens for my batteries or aspirin or whatever. I look to a fancy coffee shop over a Starbucks, because I want the culture.

    So it’s maybe also split along commodity-vs-specialty?

    Great post, and love hearing your utterz.

  5. 5 Britt
    December 12, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    @Joe: But doesn’t the public play a role in the acceptance of homogeneity? Said marketplace isn’t forcefully driving peoples’ cars into the parking lots of Applebees and Targets.

    @Chris: You hit on a point that dawned on me after I finished the Utter. For some people, price and convenience are the driving factors of their decision making. Then, depending on personal preference, for other areas of their lives, individuals are willing to invest the time in finding the “special” place.

  6. December 12, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Britt: how much of a role does the public play, really? When there’s a hearing at the Planning Commission or the Zoning Board to consider approval for one of these ‘big box’ stores, what percentage of the community turns out? What is the real level of public participation in the decisionmaking process? Two retired gadflies showing up at a zoning hearing on a decision that might impact, say, a neighborhood of 300,000 people, does not equal real public participation, yet sadly, this is usually the case here in Las Vegas, whenever a vote on something like this comes up, which is very often.

  7. 7 Britt
    December 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    @ Joe: My comment was aimed more at what happens after the fact rather than beforehand. Unfortunately, the public pays little attention to planning and zoning, paying the price for its ignorance later. What I’m wondering about has more to do with why people drift away or choose the brand name over a local establishment. As a society, are we really that brainwashed to believe that something is better if it comes out of a chain restaurant kitchen versus a locally created/owned one?

  8. December 12, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Wow this is something we see happening every day here in small town Iowa where I live. My father is a veteran of the local grocery scene and I pay special attention to how food is being marketed. People will actually get into their car, fill it with $3 per gallon gas, and drive past the local grocer en route to the Wal Mart Super center or Super Target or some other super-size store to buy groceries. Sometimes these stores are fifty miles away, or more. Why would anyone endure an hour’s drive when groceries are just down the street? I think you touched on part of it when you mentioned familiarity (familiar store is like a familiar GUI, we get used to the layout).

    I have asked some of my neighbors why, and some of the answers I get include “Well, I can’t get my XYZ type of organic peanut butter here in town”, “Well, the SuperBig Store has fresher produce”, “Well, the prices are so much lower”, “Well, they have seven types of lettuce”. It goes on but the general feeling is that people think they can get something in terms of either product, selection or experience in a larger city that is different than they can get locally.

    Some of these differences are real, some perceived.

  9. December 13, 2007 at 3:27 am

    I hate these kinds of questions, but are we the victims, or authors, of our own ennui?

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