Bucking the stereotype that women are the biggest proponents of retail therapy, South African entrepreneur Ian Kilbride reveals a secret addiction – shopping. What’s more, he outlines how he is not alone in his enthusiasm for foraging through the aisles of do-it-yourself building supply centres along with other men. He even confesses to finding himself succumbing to temptations laid out before him by clever merchandise specialists in department stores. On the plus side: all this shopping is good for the economy, Ian reckons. – JC
By Ian Kilbride*
I enter the cool environment and smell that manly aroma, immediately see them and know that they are all lost souls. In a dreamlike state, they wonder the aisles looking for things they neither need nor require; things they will possibly, no probably, never use, but for a brief moment must own more than anything else in the world.
The New Year is always the worst time for them; bored by the 4th day of Christmas let alone the 12th, and fuelled by clever loyalty cards, topped up with cash by well meaning family and friends – people who care for these poor souls but do not understand their addiction.
Yes I know this group, as I too have the “curse”. I too love Builders Warehouse.
But let us retrace our steps to an hour before I arrived at this institution, the temple of male retail, and understand how a loving partner can manipulate a man, yes us the weaker sex. I was sitting in the lounge fully engaged with a car magazine, a cup of tea and the prospect of football on Channel 203. Then she struck. Management appeared at the door, looking oh so innocent, and acting remote yet casual. Stupidly as ever I failed to pick up the signals.
But she had a goal, an objective, and a plan. She was cool, calculating and is the result of a female line stretching back over 1 000 generations. Caught off-guard and with cooling tea, a lack of biscuits and at least two hours to kill until the football started, I stood little chance. But the sheer audacity of the attack, the sheer brilliance of the manipulation, planning and foresight was way above any male intellect.
So the game began, a sweet request for nothing more than, “five or six things” from Woollies, that was the intro, the hook, the sweetener. The terrible and evil decider was tagged on to the end: “Oh, and sweetie can you pop into Builders Warehouse and get me a massive new gas braai and a new garden shed.” Looking back now, I know she really said, “and get me some black bin bags”, but when I heard Builders Warehouse my mind fogged to her needs and went into a boy’s fantasy mode. I have always wanted my own massive gas braai and garden shed!
She had me. All I had to do was go to Woollies and I then I would have a “Pink Pass”, the endorsed right to cruise the red light area that is “Automotive Accessories”, or better still walk the mean streets that are forever “Outside Braai Equipment” and “Electrical Tools.” I inwardly smiled. I knew that it was a trap, but it was a fair trade and I was too far gone to care.
So imagine my shock and disbelief, as the fog cleared and I arrived home four hours later, smug and content with my latest new set of screwdrivers and the fifth large car sponge I own, to suddenly realise that I also had over R3 000 of groceries and 20 plastic Woollies bags in the boot of my car.
Management had played a fabulous double bluff. Distracted by the idea of “Toys R Us 4 Men”, I had walked into that money-and-man-eater-called-Woollies as a hungry man. She had deliberately held back breakfast on the promise of a “late lunch” and so walked into the food trap that is Woollies and forgot the biblical dictate of, “No man shall enter Woolworths on an empty stomach”. So, yes: I bought 50% of the shop!
Management saved herself R3 000 that week on groceries, R3 000 for the nicer things in life. Me, well I got what I deserved and will no doubt make the exact same mistake again soon, because if it wasn’t for Builders Warehouse just where would Cash Converters get 90% of its unused electric tools and garden equipment from, and that surely would be a negative impact to our GDP growth figures? Long live Builders Warehouse and long live female manipulation. I love you both and you are both great for the economy!
Ian Kilbride is the Chairman of Warwick Wealth and the Spirit Foundation, (formally known as the KIDS Foundation). See all of his articles on iankilbride.com and every week on BizNews, in the Opinion Section.