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Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Here it Comes...
Yes, nothing says "Christmas spirit" here in LA quite like Larry Flynt's Hustler Casino...
With Thanksgiving and Black Friday shrinking in our collective cultural rear-view mirrors, the Christmas shopping season is now roaring full throttle towards the checkered flag of Dec. 25th. Much as I dislike the overtly commercial nature of this holiday, I'm no more immune from the pressures than anyone else -- and so I too joined the fray, using the last couple of weeks to cross a few names off my own gift list with some obscure CDs Amazon was unable to supply. Instead, I was directed to a company called CD Baby.
I realize that the current generation looks upon CDs much as my own peers viewed the quill pen and sun dial. Given that I grew up in the era of the 45 single and 33 rpm LP (which is what we called records before they acquired the hip/retro status of "vinyl"), I still view CDs as a relatively new technology, but kids today dismiss the shiny silver discs as dusty relics dating back to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Although CDs are indeed digital, they still have an actual physical presence -- you have to remove each disc from the jewel case and insert it into a player before the good times can roll. In an era of the invisible and utterly weightless MP3, this is apparently considered to be unspeakably crude.
It’s not like I'm a complete Luddite -- I’ve got an Ipod and a nice new radio with a dock to play all those ephemeral MP3 tunes – but that sound system also has a CD player. Having amassed several hundred CDs since they first hit the marketplace back in the early 80’s, I’m not about to toss them all in favor of their MP3 successors.
Let’s just say I have a hard time trusting anything I can’t hold in my hands, a stance that is decidedly behind the times – just like me.
Anyway... a few days after ordering those two CDs, I received the following e-mail:
“Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, November 18, 2010.
We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We miss you already. We'll be right here at http://cdbaby.com/, patiently awaiting your return.”
I don’t know if it was a particularly slow day up there in Oregon -- or if maybe the employees decided to take the edge off a dreary gray afternoon by indulging in some of Portland's famous microbrews or smoking a little something special up on the roof -- but they certainly seemed to be having a good time. Their “order shipped” message was infinitely more creative and fun than anything I’ve ever received from Amazon – or anywhere else, for that matter. In an era when slickness in marketing and the bottom line seems to be everything, such a playful approach to the business of selling is refreshing.
Really, when's the last time an e-mail from any company made you smile?
Hey, I’m just glad somebody out there in the Retail Jungle is having a little fun in the grim crush of this Christmas season...