Ban the Plan-O-Gram
The first time I encountered the world of Plan-O-Grams was as an associate for a well-known pet store. I had just familiarized myself with where all the items in my department were located when a manager showed up with this piece of paper that had a layout of my department—the fish department.
My merry-go-lucky manager who knew practically nothing about fish and small critters said cheerily, "We got a new Plan-O-Gram today. We’ll be starting it tomorrow.”
Not to be one who appears clueless, I smiled and nodded as if I knew what the heck she was talking about, but honestly I though she was announcing a new type of aquarium or fish health kit. As soon as she was around the corner, I raced to the counter and pulled out the mysterious new piece of paper.
I was mystified. No no… this is all wrong. The fish food is over here, the decorations are here…. Leave it to management to have it all wrong.
Well in 24 hours I found out that I was the one who was wrong. And ever since that day, I have been a devout opponent to Plan-O-Grams.
According to my store manager, the Really Smart People that analyze shoppers studied our store and found that we needed to optimize the shoppers experience and increase our profits by placing the items in a totally new way.
So the fish food moved to the next aisle and the bagged pellets got moved to the middle rather than an end; Siamese Fighting Fish bowls were moved a row over and below them had to be a specific brand of filters had to be below them—and the rest of the filters and accessories had to be moved down to the other end of the aisle they already were on. And the aquarium rocks… well lets just say that their new location could be defined with a friendly metaphor.
I suppose that all the money that our company paid the Really Smart People to come up with the studies for this new plan were worth it… but something in my mind was skeptical. All the customers came in and had panicked looks of confusion. "Where is the Goldfish Food?” or "I can’t believe you stopped carrying Nova Aqua.” Maybe that was the Really Smart People’s plan all along—confuse the customers so much that they don’t care how much they spend. But I personally disliked it because it forced me to interact with customers more.
Well it turned out that I was not cut out for the life of a sales associate. So I moved on to other forms of work. I thought I’d never again have to deal with the Plan-O-Gram ever again. Of course I was young, and naivety seems to be strongly correlated to youth.
I had almost forgotten about the absurd Plan-O-Gram epidemic until one day I walked into a nearby Kroger I’ve been frequenting for nearly a decade. As soon as I entered the building I knew something was wrong. I should have paid heed to the hairs rising on my neck, but I brushed it off as a reaction to the magazines full of front-page breasts and great bedroom advice I just passed.
But no, it was a little more sinister. I turned down the aisle to get my hot buffalo sauce and… no… I must have went down the wrong aisle. I walked to the end, went down the next aisle. Towels and bowls. Nope… the other side… cereal and toys. Nope. Next aisle had candy—My God, wasn’t this where the charcoal was for the last five years!?
Starting to sweat, I stormed the store with wide-eyed paranoia similar to the way I do when one of the kids that is supposed to be at my side is hiding in the remote, free try-out section! I even started to run, hoping that I would either smash into a stocker or at least collide with someone else who was just as lost as me. Luckily, I found one familiar place in the store, and I checked beer off my shopping list. I was tempted to start the night early right there in the store, but refrained and got my bearings.
Using the alcohol section as a point of reference, I slowly worked my way around in exploration. I soon found out that the people who reorganized the store (the aforementioned Really Smart People) were smart enough to keep the booze in the same place, but otherwise were not exactly all that smart. I eventually found my buffalo sauce next to the Little Debbies and bread.
I’m just finally getting used to the new setup, but really I’m still not happy about it. Come on guys! All I want to do is get in, go straight to what I’m there to get, and then get out as fast as possible. Now, I miss half the things I want the first go, and when I get home I am reminded that I did not get spaghetti sauce and noodles—so I pack up and go back and waste more time as I head for the feminine hygiene section to get my Italian supplies. Well that’s pretty close to the beer… so there too.
Which is what those Really Smart People were planning all along with their evil Plan-O-Grams.
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