Monday, October 19, 2009
A brilliant marketing technique we wish we’d thought of first…
“On a broad patch of sidewalk at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street, across from Yummy Taco, an old-fashioned wooden box telephone materialized recently. The phone, which is mounted on a metal stand, as if it were a floor lamp, has brass ringer bells, a wooden receiver on one side, and a crank on the other. On the dial is written “The Pintchik Oracle,” and, below that, a psychedelic sticker asks, 'Do you have a question? Don’t be afraid and speak clearly. Say your name, ask a question.'
If you stop and stare at the phone for a while, some passerby is bound to start laughing at you, at which point the thing to do is to look over at Pintchik’s Hardware and then turn your gaze upward. Spanning twenty feet of the store’s yellow-painted brick façade is a black electronic billboard, across which red letters zoom like Space Invaders. 'WASSUP BABY?' the sign says. The Pintchik Oracle has spoken …
One afternoon last week, a young woman with bobbed brown hair approached, walking slowly. An easy target.
Olsher: Excuse me, would you like to ask the Oracle a question?
Woman: Oracle? What oracle?
Olsher: The Oracle is this electronic sign on the wall that knows all. See?
Woman: O.K. What should I be when I grow up?
Oracle: That’s a question for Dr. Phil. What do you do?
Woman: I used to be a dancer.
Oracle: You have a dancer’s body.
Woman: Who’s doing this?
Oracle: I will hum if you will dance.
Olsher: I think the Oracle is coming on to you.
Oracle: It’s safe. I’m just an electronic sign. And I use surge protection.
Woman: That’s horrible. What if someone sees what you’re saying!
Oracle: Nobody ever pays attention!”
Excerpted from the New York Times article “Man Behind Curtain Dept. Oracle on Flatbush
An article in the U.K.'s The Guardian notes that “Pintchik Hardware’s owner, Matthew Pintchik, refuses to take any credit for the oracle’s arrival in Brooklyn. ‘You know,’ he says, deadpan, ‘we’re this crazy hardware store that’s been around for 95 years, and the oracle has been around for thousands of years, and we were just blessed that the oracle appeared on our building. We don’t know why it’s here. It’s a phenomenon. We just accept it.’”
We’ve known Matt for years and we’ve always been big fans of his cool, unusual, and off-the-wall in-store events and promotions. His store is just plain fun -- and you know what the survey says about fun:
"78 percent of SATISFIED customers will go somewhere else to shop if that somewhere else is more fun."
So, the next time you're in NYC, catch a cab to Brooklyn and head out to Pintchik's Ace Hardware. If you're lucky the Pintchik Oracle will be on duty. And while you're there ask Matt if you can sing karaoke. Trust us, it's a good time ...