… is from Bob Greene’s reflections, in the November 21st Wall Street Journal, on his visit to a going-out-business sale at a department store in Florida and on some of that store’s still-unsold merchandise:
An Angry Birds Jumbo Twin Bell alarm clock. Lucky Country cherry soft licorice twisters. A bucket of 48 multicolored plastic golf balls with holes cut into them to slow their flight. A stack of straw containers labeled “rectangle hyacinth storage bins.” Artificial tattoos ($2.99 a set), their paper backing to be loosened with water.
A melancholy tableau? On the surface, yes. As the workers dismantled the interior, the cavernous building brought to mind an abandoned roller rink. Someone had turned on the dying store’s loudspeakers. The sounds of a late-’80s hit by Roxette bounced off the walls: “I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye….”
Yet there was something paradoxically heartening in the sight of the merchandise no one desired – if only because it was a visceral reminder of the leap of faith every time someone dreams up a product, every time someone manufactures something hoping it will find an audience, every time someone unlocks the door of a shop in the morning light. No one comes up with an idea thinking it will fail; a product might seem silly or misguided once it ends up on the remainders tables, but the glory in the things no one wants is that someone is always willing to take a deep breath and roll the dice in the first place.