Monday, November 08, 2004

Trends in retail blog.

These days I’m working on a piece about a company headquartered in Honolulu that has opened a new store in the Mall of America, the first of its kind on the mainland, after it opened a handful of others in tourist spots in Hawaii. I’ll skip the details here, but according to the press release that’s the starting-point for my writing, the top man at the company styles himself the Head Dude. Hang loose, Head Dude.

Other things I’ve learned recently on the retail beat include the fact that Subway sandwich shops expand at about a rate of 175 stores a month. At that rate… well, it boggles the mind. It’s in the same league as McDonald’s, but I don’t ever remember hearing about indignant Frenchmen vandalizing Subways in France because too many other Frenchmen acquired a taste for standardized subs. But maybe I’m out of touch with the cutting edge of cultural anti-imperialism (anti-cultural imperialism?).

In the month of September alone, no fewer than 19 Subways opened in Australia, a continent I didn’t know sported any of the sandwich purveyors. Maybe they’ve all opened since I was there more than a decade ago, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. It’s been more than a decade since I went to a Subway myself. It wasn’t really Subway’s fault that I encountered a lunatic in one of their shops in late 1989, a fellow customer so unnervingly unhinged that he tainted the surroundings, at least for me. He was like something out of Oliver Sacks, a man whose mouth ran ceaselessly and in weird little circles, as if he were intent on reading loopy TelePrompTer no one else could see.

Somehow, after that, I never made it back to a Subway. But now I know that if I ever find myself at the BP truck stop near Adelaide, South Australia, I’ll be able to get a footlong meatball sandwich with melted cheese.


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