I’m sitting right now in the corner cafe of a Barnes and Noble store in Warwick Rhode Island. I’m heading off to meet up with my brother in law for a tux fitting for his wedding, but I’m passing some time now to get caught up with things on the laptop.
As I sit here though, drinking my green tea and eating my Asiago Cheese Pretzel, I’m struck by the diversity of people approaching the counter.
Trying to match the people I view to an online demographic is impossible. The Starbucks and Barnes and Noble pairing literally matches up with anyone looking to relax a bit and do something for themselves.
There was a professional who came in, dressed in business casual wear who ordered a black coffee from the bar. Next was a middle aged woman who ordered some snack from the sweets case, and matched that with a Caramel Macchiato.
And just now, a young couple no more than 20 years old or so approached the bar. It’s these two that I can identify most with, despite the fact that I’m sitting in my same business casual attire, drinking green tea, approaching 30 years of age.
I’m not at all like them. They’re nervously talking about anything to please the other, all the while standing amidst awkward silences. I’m a husband, a father, and working for a Fortune 500.
Our outlook though, much like that of everyone else here today — is all about one thing. Personal goals. I come here for an introspective look on things… For some time in isolation where I can zone out and do things. The businessman is in the corner reading the paper, and the middle aged woman is browsing a magazine and passing some time.
And in the end, we’ll all leave here happy.
There’s something to be said then about the environment. There’s music in the background, things to buy all around us — yet we’re calmly sitting back, enjoying ourselves and spending no more than $5 on average.
As a business, these are powerhouses in action — and it’s a tremendous sight to see. There are marketing and branding messages around us all, where I’m willing to bet millions of dollars were spent to match up the right messages with the right products. The right demographics with the right location… Right down to the mix of music being played softly over the speakers.
Ultimately though, the success of this can be defined by our enjoyment of the atmosphere. Everything here is so casual that it’s almost unnoticed. Sure, we know we’re in a store — but the subtlety of it all is impressive.
I’ve got to pack things up and head out to meet up with everyone… It’s the proper way to be the best man. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll get a refill on the green tea and tip the counter for a quality lesson in marketing.