Cool Brands, Fun Gimmicks, & New Shoes

I love a good gimmick.

Sometimes, I think people confuse the word "gimmick" with something that's cheesy, pushy, or unrelated to anything they'd ever want to be around.


If it's done right, a gimmick can be quite entertaining, unique, and last in people's minds way after it's been put into effect. As a matter of fact, here's what we're actually going for:

1. an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially on designed to attract attention or increase appeal.

So, you see that a gimmick doesn't have to be all bad--it's really just there to get your attention. And my Friday afternoon was brightened by just that. But more on that in a minute.

Friday Afternoon

Around lunch time, I realized that my brain wasn't working correctly and that if I wanted to get any more work done on the proposal I've been compiling, I'd need to take a break and do something for me. So, I set off in search of food. However, because Panera (my usual go-to place for "me" time) was jam packed with ravenous lunch break bandwagoners, I drove a few minutes away to a nearby Caribou Coffee.

Now, one thing I've noticed about living north of Virginia--Starbucks still exists, but where the chain is king nearly everywhere else in the U.S., wolverine country is all about Caribou. I had visited Caribou Coffee exactly once prior to yesterday's lunch (and it was earlier this week in Ohio), so I gave it another try for my little noon-time break.
Gouda Turkey Pesto ("Grown-up Grilled Cheese") and Northern Lite Mocha with pink whipped cream in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The whole place reminded me of a getaway cabin in winter, and everything was decked out in pink.
Fun napkins! These are the kind of novelties I have trouble using, all because they're so unique and I always want to keep them as souvenirs.

Besides the annoying fly that was buzzing around the chair next to me, I thoroughly enjoyed my second trip to Caribou. In a world filled with Starbucks imitators, I expected the usual rip-off of abstract green and orange decor, with iTunes' latest wannabe crooning over the speakers. It was pretty refreshing to know that there are cafes that exist in their own respective rights--and this one, reminiscent of a ski lodge, actually surprised me with its girly tendencies. It was almost like visiting a female-owned bakery, but I'm guessing that was probably because of all the seasonal pink.

After lunch, I felt like exploring another new place, so I made my way to a nearby consignment shop. The place was smaller than I expected, but had a surprisingly fun array of new or barely-used shoes. I fell in love with a couple pairs, and when I learned that Friday was "cash day" (25% percent off everything if you paid in cash),  I was more convinced that I needed the red wedges and black BCBG heels that I kept sliding back onto my demanding feet. I was also in sudden pursuit of an ATM.

According to my phone, the nearest ATM was at the mall. I knew it probably wasn't the brightest idea to brave the afternoon crowds, but I was dazed by the promise of pretty shoes and delirious with traffic annoyances, so I gave in. And what do you know? The first thing I saw upon entering the front doors were two flyers reminding me of the mall's impending Wicked activities. I grabbed my money and ran, man. Well, I walked briskly. And when I found what I was looking for, I was like a kid who had just found the Santa booth in December.

A Wicked snow globe! With flying monkeys on top! The escalator had never been so far from reach.
Running down the stairs to get ahead of all the silly, oblivious people hanging out on the escalator, I walked up to the display and went inside. Like a kid in a candy store, I tell you . . .

It's a globe! With bubbles!

Inside were costumes from the musical. So pretty.

I would wear that dress every day if I had one.
TV screen showing Broadway rehearsals

 Totally forgot this on my original post! Visitors were also given a card with a special access code to go online and download free Wicked music.

After ooh-ing and ahh-ing for a few minutes and wishing I could have my picture taken in front of a cardboard scene from the play without looking like a goober, I was handed a brochure by a woman running the booth that outlined a sort-of scavenger hunt to complete in the mall. The gimmick? Run around to participating stores and ask a cashier to stamp my card (no purchase necessary!) in return for an oppotunity to enter a contest. The catch? I knew everyone would try to sell stuff to me when I went in the stores, but I didn't really care. For some reason, this excited me to no end, and I set off in search of five mall employees who would hopefully entertain my quest and not glare at me as though I were asking for handouts on the sidewalk. Mission accepted.

The trick to quickly finding five participating stores? Turn your body in a complete circle and see how many of the stores within immediate proximity of the Wicked display are the list. Stop number one: cookie stand! Annnnd . . . check.

That's a Wicked cookie, y'all.
The other four stamps were easy enough to find (thanks to Aeropostale, Nordstrom, Lush, and . . . whatever the last store was). By the way, if you play this game, don't go into Clark's--they apparently don't know what "no purchase necessary" means. Pfft.

Even more fun? Practically the whole mall seemed to be participating in Wicked madness. Signs for "Wicked Deals" popped up in countless store windows, while many displays included black and green gauze and cobwebs. I truly love festivities--why can't every day be a party?

Customer Service desk, adorned with Broadway in Detroit ads
Jessica McClintock
Art is in Market
Go! Toys and Games
I did get distracted for a few minutes in Macy's since the new Taylor Swift perfume had just come out and there were displays everywhere, but I will save that encounter for another day. Taylor is worthy of her own post.
If you wanna get mobbed by perfume saleswomen, visit Macy's.
So, after getting my five stamps, I made it back to the Wicked display, feeling as though I'd just won The Amazing Race. Sadly, all I was really awarded was the opportunity to fill out my name and phone number to enter my stamped pamphlet into the official contest cauldron. And I had to use my own pen.

Before I left, though, I met a lady as crazy as I was, who asked me to take some photos of her with the Wicked display on her iPhone. I obliged, of course, but not without asking her to return the favor. ;-)

I refuse to be embarrassed by this photo because I know I'm making you all jealous right now.
Eventually, I promise that I did actually leave the mall. And I did so with a strange sense of accomplishment and excitement, all the while knowing that I'd be back within a day or two to see it all again. And then, I remembered--my shoes.

Traffic always moves more slowly when you're trying to get across town to buy two pairs of shoes that are on sale.

I made it back before the sales lady put the shoes back on the shelf, and I am happy to say that the afternoon wrapped up nicely with the acquisition of these fun finds. And that, my friends, is how you entertain yourself on a Friday afternoon.