Saturday, April 1, 2023


We all have our conceits, subsystems that make up our personal operating systems. Conceits are the subjective way we want things to be, often for no particular, objective reason we can put our finger on. These conceits are deeply ingrained from childhood or learned along the way. They bring comfort. They make sense of the subjective feel of our businesses. They are inevitably about control, which is about fear. However, they also play important roles related to motivation and even safety.

When I built my store, I wanted it to be a place I wanted to spend time in. We walk into our stores slowly and know if it feels right, or if something is off. We don't just own this business, we inhabit it, like a tailored suit. Not everyone can appreciate your environment, and there are as many different environments as cuts of suit. There are certainly owners who build stores differently, along with customers who appreciate that build and who should really just go there instead to feel comfortable.

What might feel right for you, might make me a bit queasy. You can have a store that's too neat, too clean, too ordered, for a mind that finds comfort in the messy, dirty, and disordered. Perhaps neat and clean represents oppression to them, perhaps an aggressive parent who demanded order. I've had a customer tell me this. I grew up in the chaos of a large family and I find comfort in an organized, tranquil sanctuary. 

I might take a stand on some minor conceit that seems to make no sense. My line in the sand might be the choice of background music, or color of a wall, or it might be some irrational point of view. We don't chevron product here (because Gary needs his right angles). These subjective views are what make our businesses unique and our own. My conceits might be more substantive: Fixtures and flooring. Lighting. Uniforms. Greetings. How we treat people and view fairness is a conceit. Some stores are aggressive and predatory, because that's what the owner thinks is necessary in retail. The smell

Often these individual elements don't matter, although together they form a vision and make up the ineffable elements of your business. You certainly wouldn't want to change them, if they're working. I didn't say these are elements of a successful business, only that they're elements of yours. This provides a level of comfort and motivation, a true sense of ownership and yes, a sense of control. If you succeed here, you've conquered the biggest threat. Losing interest. If you ever move or remodel, you might feel a sense of panic as you haven't figured out the new vision. Everything is slipping away! The fear of separation from what you desire.

Most importantly, we don't sell games, we manage human psychology, and humans are mystifying creatures with vague and often incorrect degrees of self awareness. We need an environment that makes sense, as a baseline to engage in these mystifying experiences, with these mystifying creatures. The counter is an altar to this experience. It is an experience barrier and an experience facilitator. We are the high priests of retail relying on set, setting and ritual to keep us safe and sane. You will encounter every type of person in retail, and without this, there is actual, physical and mental danger. Subjective idiosyncrasies in the service of safety.

The Wizard’s Playbook: Magic Circle

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