Gini went to Teavana this weekend and almost drowned in pretention.
Teavana, if you do not know, is a store that doesn’t sell what you think it sells. You might think it sells tea. But what it actually purveys is an experience. This is why the store is beautifully painted, and all the teas come in beautiful canisters, and when you read the descriptions of the sample teas available they sound like they’re a rare museum piece brought here by hand, from specially-trained Sherpas, from Mars.
It made me want to stand in the middle of the store and shout, “YOU’RE DRINKING LEAVES, PEOPLE! LEAVES IN HOT WATER!”
Ah, but I cannot truly mock pretention, because there are things that mash my “Pretentious Douche” button hard. Whenever I go to The Velvet Tango Room, home of exotic alcohol mixtures, I’m transformed into some snobby jerkhole who talks about top notes and his distaste for chartreuse… and I love it. I love feeling like hundreds of people have slaved to bring me something rare and grand and noble that only We Fine Few can appreciate properly. What I am imbibing – for a Pretentious Douche never “drinks” – is a heady blend of flavors and beauty that one must sit down to savor. It makes me feel like a king of old, all for sixteen bucks a drink.
Done properly, I can cosplay Croesus on a George Bailey budget.
Clearly, given that Starbucks took something most of America used to view on the level of Twinkies and turned it into a four-buck-a-cup experience, one can take any drink and Experiencize it. (One eagerly awaits the “Chill Assistance” store, wherein the various rare flavors of Kool-Aid are presented as magnificent subtleties for your tastebudding pleasure.)
The question is, is there anything we can’t Experiencize? Is there anything humans do that we can’t apply the magic formula to? The magic formula of:
- Take an ordinary, everyday thing;
- Create it from exotic, hard-to-find materials either shipped here from afar or grown locally and organically at great expense;
- Have copywriters describe the ordinary, everyday thing in sweeping detail, so you’re forced to pay attention to every detail and start analyzing bits about this experience you never would have before;
- Charge an assload for it, so it feels like this thing must be worth money now that you’ve paid ten bucks for it instead of fifty cents.
To verify this, I want to create a store called “Undercarriage,” a store devoted entirely to the sale of premium blends of toilet paper. Oh, we all have our favorites already, don’t we? Thick-ply vs thin-ply? But what happens when you experience:
The French Curl: This rare moire watered silk blend was originally meant for Imperial usage only, famed by King Louis XIV as the only fabric smooth enough to satisfy his stylish brand of royalty. An organza overlay gives this unparalleled cleansing material a hint of massaging purity as it excels at buffing away the clumpier waste materiel, and a hint of enfleuraged jasmine and sandalwood will leave you feeling like a monarch. $20 per bundle, $7 for the pocketbook pack.
Think I’m kidding? I’m pretty sure if I had the money to create a store where there were charts to find the perfect cleansing experience based on your diet, lots of references to ayurvedic medicine that mention speeding through such an essential element of life is why mankind is so stressed these days, saying that a stronger brand of cleansing material is needed to let you appreciate the sensuality of getting in touch with your body, and wham! I’m an ass-millionaire.
You folks better hope I don’t become rich enough to start a store like this. If I ever became rich, I’d make millions.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.