Traveled to Columbus Ohio this week followed by Phoenix Arizona. Some interesting experiences along the way.

I was conducting in home interviews amongst hardcore dollar store shoppers. These people tend to have incomes under $40K a year but apparently have enough money to feed multiple pets. In the first home we went to, we were greeted by two very large and friendly dogs. And when I say friendly I mean to suggest that my client and I were violated by these K9s in ways that would make TSA agents blush.

Finally, our host let the dogs outside but this lasted only minutes. The host’s husband came home and let them back in. He watched some TV on their high end flat screen and proceeded to smoke like Morton Downey Jr. He then mentioned something to his wife about where he was going and who he was going with. It sounded something like this,


Our second interview of the day was with one of the most political 28 year olds I had ever met. I learned all about the social stance of various retailers, who gave money to who and for what causes, and why the government wants us all to get fat. Apparently, the government is to blame for her obesity, “They won’t let me buy organic peanut butter with my food stamps.”

I had to admit I was somewhat distracted as sitting on the floor was an original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I wondered where the Robotic Operating Buddy (ROB) was. I then wondered if it met the same fate mine did; my friend Chris and I made homemade napalm, smothered it on ROB, and watched it burn on a rock in my parent’s backyard. I digress.

She then reminded me that she was living off of food stamps and WIC. This made me wonder how she paid for the brand new flat screen TV the NES was hooked up to. Also, the 40 or so tattoos she had over her body could not have come cheap. But who am I to pass judgment?

Our final interview of the day was with a recent college grad in her first pad out of college. This could have been the dirtiest apartment I have ever been in. While sitting on the couch my hand slipped between the two cushions. I kid you not when I tell you I had visions of the woodbeast from 1981s Flash Gordon biting me as I hurried to remove my hand from imminent danger.

We went to a dollar store with this consumer and ran into two shoplifters on the way out (although we did not know this until we walked into the store and the manager was on the phone with the police). We spent about 15 minutes in that store before leaving (most of the categories we needed to discuss were locked up behind the counter. Apparently in that part of Columbus, Deodorant, Shampoo, and Body Wash are high left items). Makes me wonder what the thieves got away with.

This is one of those projects that reminds me to remain thankful for the blessings I have received in this life. It also makes me thankful that my tetanus is up to date.