03 Nov The “Experience” of a Lifetime
…or maybe just a lunchtime.
When I was young, when you wanted a cup of coffee it generally came out of one of those big stainless steel urns, or the teardrop shaped glass decanters associated with industrial coffee makers. You know – the type you still see in diners and truck stops. And when you stopped at a farmers market, it was actually just a farmer selling a bunch of vegetables out of the back of his truck for a very good price. Getting a haircut meant just that – getting a guy to quickly trim up your hair and buzz your neck, a very quick process that took about 10 minutes tops and did not involve washing your hair or the subsequent purchase of “product.”
Alas, I now no longer need either barber or “product.” My point though is that – for better or worse – American businesses have done a fantastic job of turning the purchase of ordinary goods and services into “AN EXPERIENCE.” And because they have done it so well, people don’t seem to mind paying a little extra for something once thought to be absolutely mundane (I personally blame the French). Now a cup of coffee has to be a “great” cup of coffee with whipped milk and seven extra shots of espresso and extra foam and a leaf drawn in caramel on top of the whole thing… for $27. The farmers market is more like a jewelry store, with carefully pre-washed, pre-shelled butter beans in a glass case with many folks stopping by to admire them – yet unable to afford a purchase.
I would be a hypocrite if I did not acknowledge that, on some level, we do the same thing in our gallery. And rightfully so. Buying a piece of art should be a meaningful experience. It will be a part of the character of your home. It should involve thought, inspiration, and even emotion. The one thing I believe that you never should encounter when making an art purchase is salesmanship. The art should always sell itself.
And when it comes to spending the extra money for all those sometimes ridiculous little touches retailers use to lure us in… I would also be a hypocrite if I didn’t say that I am the biggest sucker of them all. I just love to buy asparagus that is tied up in a gingham ribbon instead of a rubber band or pears wrapped in tissue paper. Buying homemade dog treats, selecting what fragrance I want for my artisan herbal hand soap, or unwrapping a folded white oxford shirt just back from the cleaners gives me a feeling of contentment and well-being that I call the Martha Stewart Effect. And I don’t really mind being bald, but I do miss buying “product.”