Retail Spaces

Really, Target?

 

Dance party in Aisle 3!     Photo credit: Mike Mozart licensed under CC BY 2.0

Target flips on the background music,” reads the headline in a story by Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio. Moylan writes that megachain Target never played music in their stores before a recent decision to join the retail herd. Why no music previously? Because the powers that be thought music was a distraction (yes it is). But that’s about to change as Target has recently “changed its tune” in a misguided attempt to “revive flagging sales and keep shoppers in the aisles longer.” Asks Moylan, “[w]ill shoppers turn up the volume?”

What? How in the world will playing an endless loop of bad pop music increase sales? Yes, we know, some marketing survey says so and the Chief Brand Evangelist at Ridiculous Design Agency claims something or another. We’ve heard this all before. But we’re talking about introducing music at Target, not H&M or wherever it is that kids like to shop. This move seems particularly knuckleheaded when you consider that some obviously more thoughtful retailers are reining in the added noise in an effort to help customers with autism.

So really, Target, please reconsider. Because we are willing to bet real money that no one expects–or wants–a discotheque in the laundry detergent aisle.

Link via Greg, founder of the Soundprint app, the “Yelp for Noise!”

Organization calls for elimination of canned music:

Lisa Packer, staff writer at Healthy Hearing, writes about Pipedown, an organization started almost 25 years ago in the UK by Nigel Rodgers who committed himself to stopping the ubiquitous assault of canned music in every public space.  We wrote about Pipedown UK’s victory this summer when Marks & Spencer, the UK’s biggest chain store, agreed to stop playing muzak in their stores.  Parker interviewed Rodgers about the evils of canned music, which Rodgers says is “mood-conditioning by business, trying to manipulate us into buying or doing what it wants.”  He added that the constant over-stimulation “leaves us afraid of silence.”

Parker examines why businesses bombard us with music (short answer: to make money faster, of course), and cites noted noise activist Dr. Daniel Fink, who notes the misuse of the 85 dB occupational standard as a standard for the general public and the lack of federal safe noise standards for public places.  Despite the effective noise regulation in the U.S., the article ends on a good note.  Parker looks at Pipedown’s continued efforts fight noise, writing:

With more than 1500 members in the UK and sister groups in Germany, Austria, New Zealand and the U.S., Pipedown is now taking its efforts to persuade retailers and other establishments to eliminate canned music to a world stage.

The going may be slow, but each victory brings us closer to a quieter world.

 

Breaking the social contract?

The Tyranny of Noise.  Do click the link as this is a worthwhile read.  In this brief post, the author talks about the daily aural intrusions into our personal space as we are forced to deal with what the author calls a “kind of social rudeness.”  We would remove the words “kind of” from that phrase.  In any event, the author lists three ways in which she attempts “to push back on the cacophony of sounds in [her] immediate environment”: using earphones, using earplugs, and meditation.  We would add:

  • request that loud music be lowered in stores, restaurants, and coffee shops; if the request is denied, leave after telling management that you will not be returning.
  • ask people who are talking loudly in public spaces to lower their voices, particularly if they are in spaces that have been designated as quiet spots (like the quiet cars on Amtrak trains).

We understand that it is difficult for some to ask a waitress or store manager to lower the music volume or, especially, to approach someone and ask them to lower their voice, but until we all do this, unnecessary noise will continue to intrude into our lives.

Quiet City Map: Manhattan℠

We are happy to announce the launch of our sister site, Quiet City Map.   Quiet City Map is home to Quiet City Map: Manhattan℠, a map-based guide to places through out Manhattan where the sound levels are reliably comfortable (and, sadly, some places that are best avoided).  The map provides ratings for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, public spaces (e.g., parks, squares, and privately owned public spaces (POPs)), museums and retail stores according to sound level and sound quality.   Quiet City Map will host both the map and individual reviews for each map entry.  We hope that you find Quiet City Map: Manhattan℠ a useful guide as you navigate the city.