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Prozac Shopping

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Happy Air In A Store Near You

By James Donahue

The idea isn’t new; stores have been doing it for years. You know that fresh baked aroma that hits you when you first enter a grocery store that features a bakery . . . or that delicious odor of barbequed chicken. Its cleverly designed to stimulate your appetite just before you grab a shopping cart and begin your trip through the store.

It is well known that hungry people tend to buy more food than people who have just eaten a good meal. So those food odors rolling out at you from the front door are not there by accident.

Now there is something new and much more subtle awaiting your senses . . . and it isn’t to be found in just the grocery stores. Enhanced Air Technologies of Vancouver, Canada, has developed a new product for store owners called Commercaire. This involves the subtle scent of a synthetic compound called pheromone, which the company claims gives people a sense of comfort and happiness when it gets mixed in the air they breathe.

One writer described the scent as an "airborne Prozac. You can flit through the store wearing rose colored glasses, happily filling your shopping basket with all kinds of things you don’t need and may never use, but enjoying every moment of your buying experience."

Commercaire is pumped into the store through air ducts. It is odourless so people don’t know they are breathing it. Consequently, there is no way of knowing if you are under the influence of this sneaky gimmick or not when you are out shopping.

Retailers who have used the product say they experience a general growth in sales from between nine and 20 percent.

If the name pheromone sounds familiar that’s because it is an ingredient used by some perfume makers. The scent is said to be attractive to the opposite sex. It triggers an emotional response from the people around us.

If you are like most Americans these days, carefully scrimping to make ends meet and watching every penny you spend as prices of goods rise and paychecks diminish, the news of your local shopping stores playing with your mind by dumping pheromone into the store air ducts may not be something you want to hear.

If you are like this writer . . . who entertains a passionate dislike for store shopping, the enhancement of the store air with seductive scents probably won’t have much of an effect. Unless it makes me take extra notice the curves of a shapely store clerk, I doubt if I will ever spend more than I intended when I first chose to enter the store.

That is because like most men, I go in stores with the express purpose of buying a particular product. I find what I want, take it to the cashier, make my payment and leave. If the store scent gives me a particularly happy sensation, all the better. I probably won’t buy anything more unless it is a 50 cent candy bar at the counter to munch on the ride home.

My advice to shoppers anxious to avoid all of the tricks used by stores to coax you to spend over your budget: Always use a shopping list and stick to it religiously. Look for bargain prices on store brands usually placed out of easy eyesight on lower or upper shelves in the isle. Try putting some Vick vapor rub under your nose and ear plugs in your ears before entering the store. Also remember to ignore all of the visual images designed to take your eyes off the prize as you walk the store.

Try shopping with cash and leaving the credit card at home. This will force you to keep your eye on the prices and to buy only the things on your list.

The tricksters are waiting for you at every turn.