Personal Space, A Social Leader, and The Indirector

There is a certain appeal in shopping where the outside world is limited. It inspires a desire to discover something new and unexpected. Shopping brings with it a feeling of human focus, personal investment, and allows us to see the products we are purchasing at their fullest size.

When you look into the displays at chain stores in the United States, there is something missing: the sense of wonder that retail can conjure. Seeing new, innovative products is almost sacrilegious in this culture; the tiresome line about “hoarding” the latest and greatest seems the real takeaway message.

While we are shopping online or on our phones, we miss the opportunity to see the products up close and personal, to try them on and learn more about them from the manufacturer’s side. Shopping online and seeing products only on screens takes away a sense of “appointment shopping,” so we often get frustrated and give up. But I think even as we shop online, we sometimes miss the larger point—unlimited choice and instant gratification—and for how many products it feels.

In Norway, the process of shopping is a set of rituals and a jigsaw puzzle. All purchases are complicated, brief, and a bit daunting, but it is intended to be challenging. The first thing you do when you walk into a clothing store is see which manufacturers are on display. If there are two or three, you have to choose wisely—it’s not just the one you want! When you go to a food store, you see shelf after shelf of seemingly endless choices and serve upon them.

In these bizarrely utilitarian settings, things are more constrained, so it’s even more important to carefully choose the options you do have. You can easily gauge what you will like or dislike by making a note of the products in the store as you shop; if there’s an item you wish to explore, you can ask the salesperson, who is extremely helpful and honest about what’s on offer.

In light of what we know about our brains, what I call Eucalyptus Ballet may be the secret sauce for making complicated shopping easier. This mental transformation allows the Eucalyptus to bring us focus, concentration, and a feeling of trust. Imagine that.

When we are introduced to a new product, as soon as we get a tiny clue about what it is, our attention is drawn to it. We immediately move to the object and our brain starts telling us what to look for. But the moment we can hear the nature of the product, the attention goes away, as does our decision. Eucalyptus Ballet allows us to enter the world of a product in its beginning stages, and that helps us see where the item is going.

Imagine that. If you’re shopping in a high-end boutique, you’ll stop and ask the sales associate where you can find one of the rare porcelain coffee cups they’re displaying. After a moment of quiet reflection, she’ll respond, “…it’s hanging on the wall, but if you buy a place to put it…” And then you can turn and walk away with joy knowing that you’ll find the right setting for your cup.

My great grandfather and he loved to get around, and when he was lucky enough to get a ticket to ride a steamship crossing the Atlantic, it would be a thrilling experience. Nowadays he wouldn’t have been allowed on such a boat because the U.S. government assumed he’d be a criminal—something he was not. He worked with a bunch of Italian sailors on the docks to build each other a place to sleep, cook and eat. When this crossing was done, it was sold, and they had bought what would later become a tavern in Manhattan, providing room and board. It was called Eucalyptus Ballet. It was one of the many places where humans go for pleasure and escape from the world.

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