I’m on vacation this week, or as they call it these days “staycation” because we aren’t going anywhere special, and on Monday because of the rain, I proposed a family outing to Bass Pro Shop.
I didn’t intend to buy anything, but I’d been to the new one over at Patriot Place (near the New England Patriots’ stadium) with my brother last year. The place is gigantic and they have all kinds of stuffed animals and a big tank of fish and turtles. I knew the girls would go crazy for the place and I was right. Isabella just loved the fish and turtles and the “animal statues”. I didn’t think the time was right to educate my four-year-old on the disturbing truth of taxidermy. Meanwhile, Sophia surprised me with her love of the boats. She want to climb inside the fishing boats and once inside wouldn’t leave. She just sat at the helm, holding the wheel, a self-satisfied grin on her face. I’m not sure why she was so enamored of the boats, but she must take after her father.
After lunch in the little bar and grille, we continued our meandering. At one point a salesman standing at a display said something to draw me into a conversation and encouraged me to sign up for a drawing to win a $25,000 shopping spree at Bass Pro. I know it’s a marketing ploy to get my name and address, but I said, why not?
As I filled out the form, the guy asked me if I knew what a yurt is.
I said, “Sure, it’s a kind of tent.”
That surprised him. “Nobody ever knows what a yurt is.”
“Really?” I said. And then warming up, “They’re mainly found in Central Asia and are round with straight sides…” At this point, Melanie interrupted my Cliff Clavin impersonation, allowing the salesman to continue his pitch.
He pulled out a glossy brochure depicting some luxurious yurts at some resort in Virginia, near Williamsburg. Evidently, Bass Pro either operates or licenses a vacation resort club of some sort and this was their marketing technique.
I have to admit the yurts looked comfortable and fun. If we were the sort of folks who could afford such vacations, I’d be interested. And then came the heart of the pitch:
“Now today, we’re offering four days and three nights at this resort for just $199. That’s not per person, but for the entire 7-person vacation yurt.” I’m pretty sure he didn’t call it a vacation yurt, but I forget what euphemism he used.
I have to admit that this was a pretty tempting deal. Two hundreds for the whole family for four days and three nights anywhere is a pretty good deal. On the other hand, that doesn’t include the cost of driving to Virginia and the other incidental costs. Moreover, I’m not one to fork over cash for an unexpected offer, deal or no deal, on the spot. It’s not in my nature to buy impulsively. Act impulsively in other areas? sometimes; Obsess over something once I’ve decided I want it? Definitely. But I won’t buy without thinking about it first.
Salesmen don’t like people like me. They rely on people making snap decisions under pressure and being too polite to simply walk away. Frankly, I was being too polite to walk away either. But I wasn’t buying.
“You don’t have to make a decision now,” he said smoothly, anticipating my line of dignified retreat. “You put down $99 now and then you have a year to discuss this with your wife and decide which of these resorts you’d like to go to and when.”
Yeah, except that $99 down payment is a decision in itself, isn’t it? If we decided we didn’t want to go after all, how easy would it be to get that $99 back? I’m guessing not easy at all. It’s a creepy sort of sales tactic, anticipating the objection by redefining it so that it isn’t. That’s when the nice exchange turned into a hard sell and I decided I wasn’t interested in staying, dignified retreat or not.
“Thanks, we’ll still have to think about it. If we’re interested, we’ll come back.” And then I moved off without giving him time to tell me that it was a limited time offer or engage me in more banter he thought would lower my resistance but would only serve to annoy me further.
In any case, I’m sure I’ll be hearing from him soon. He does have my sweepstakes entry after all. Oh well.