One of the very first movies I remember seeing as a kid was The Wizard of Oz. My parents recorded it from the TV onto a VHS cassette, so whenever we watched it we would have to fast forward through the commercials. This was always a risky endeavor. Those tapes were not really meant for fast forwarding or rewinding – every time we skipped ahead, we crossed our fingers that the tape inside didn’t get stuck, creating a storm of static on the screen, distorting Judy Garland’s voice into something like the munchkins she would meet later in the story, and forcing us to hit eject, pull out tangled tape, and manually wind the spools back to health.
The movie captivated me every time. I loved the fantasy of escaping the real world to a universe of bright color, catchy songs, and a surprise around every bend in the yellow brick road. I looked forward to the Emerald City itself, sparkling and gleaming in the distance, knowing that there were people scurrying around inside, scrubbing the floors, and preparing for our arrival (I of course joined Dorothy & co in my 8-year-old mind). Once inside the gates, I toured the palace, guided by greeters stationed helpfully along the way.
I now realize that The Wizard of Oz, and the way I felt while watching it, bear a peculiar resemblance to the way I prefer my retail experiences as an adult. Colorful sights, pleasant music, new exhibits at every turn, helpful staff to meet my every need – IKEA? Whole Foods?
I visited a Whole Foods this weekend, and I felt a flutter in my stomach as I rode the escalator down into the depths of the store (as only a New Yorker does to get to a supermarket), taking in the sights and sounds of the produce department. A wander around found me with a beautiful cut of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon and a bunch of leeks in my basket.