Virtual Bazaars

Driving out of downtown LA was a bit of a pain in the ass this morning. Between CicLAvia and the Fashion District bazaar, it was complete chaos.  In DC, I might have turned up my iPod and reminded myself to breath slowly but still being somewhat new to LA, I was able to distract myself with what was actually going on around me.  My companion mentioned that the Fashion District bazaar (which reminded me of a street market in Bangkok for some reason) actually had a lot of good merchandise: “20% of the stuff that you can buy is actually quite good.  It’s just difficult to find which 20%.”

Her statement conjured a vision of the good Mr. Wanamaker – “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” – as well as a possible solution.  One day after paying for some e-cigarette cartridges using Square (will someone tell me if they have read about this being bad for you), I was in a mood to think about offline/online convergence in the market.

Looking at the chaos in the fashion district, I suddenly found myself rolling the windows up while looking more carefully at the goods for sale.

“This stuff looks like total crap,” I told my companion.

“Yeah, you have to go deep into the market to find anything,” she responded.

“But I don’t want to walk in there,” I thought to myself before suddenly wishing I could just see a Flipbook that contained every piece of merchandise in the entire store.  Couldn’t I just plug my tablet into the big screen in my living room and sip on an Americano while flipping through all the products in the market? Wouldn’t the person who actually took the pictures and uploaded them to the Flipbook be able to charge a 5% commission on all sales that came through the Flipbook?  Couldn’t the entire market experience be compressed into a tablet by now?  You could even through Google Hangouts in for good measure in case you wanted to haggle with the seller or learn more about the product itself.

Or am I missing the point?

Is the point to actually bring all these products (20% good / 80% crap) into a bunch of kiosks on a muggy sunday and then haggle with customers all day.  Is that fun?

Then I remembered that I don’t even like shopping in the first place and fortunately found the on-ramp for the 10.

Am I missing the point?  Someone talk me down to reality – why would it be better to fight with the crowds to snag some product off a hanger when I could just browse a flipbook of all these products while sitting comfortably in my loft?

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