Secret shopper is a chance for retailers to hear New Zealand shoppers’ thoughts on their best and worst retail experiences, most-wanted products and more. This edition features Duncan Greive, editor and publisher of TheSpinoff.co.nz – a culture and commentary site and content production team based in downtown Auckland.
+ What was the last purchase you were excited about, and why?
This is so tedious, but it was an iPhone 6s. I’d been limping along with a 5 for two years, an old lame dog clinging to life by the slenderest of threads. I put it out of its misery in late March and feel like the fanciest guy in the world now that I have a phone that doesn’t glare at me resentfully when asked to perform a humdrum function like ‘send a text’.
+ Can you tell us about a retail experience you’ve had that was exciting or interesting?
There’s this store I will not name because I don’t want it to become any more popular than it already is. But it sells expired and near-expired food in South Auckland, and is just a magical wonderland with which my whole family is obsessed. We journey down, the five of us, on a Saturday morning, full of hope in our hearts. The beauty is that you never know what will be there, but you know it’ll be very, very cheap. There are weird English lollies, weird Middle-Eastern snacks, weird American chips. Dairy products in particular are a treasure trove, with the added excitement of not knowing which might make you ill. I love it all.
+ What was your worst retail experience?
On an overcast afternoon a few years back I was out looking for props to decorate a retail environment for Barkers. It was a pop-up store with a sports theme, so we were seeking out weathered paraphernalia to dress the counter. I wandered into a particular establishment and asked the proprietor for help. He pointed me to a sad collection of broken wickets, half-sets of golf clubs and a deflated rugby ball. It was grim, and my expression probably revealed too much of my thoughts. We had an increasingly heated argument, neither of us behaving particularly well. It ended with him chasing me out of the store wielding a child’s cricket bat. I probably deserved it, but it wasn’t a great experience.
+ Tell us about a purchase that’s solved a problem for you.
At The Spinoff we record a number of podcasts, and have consistently had problems trying to get a host, two guests and a producer all with audio out of a portable mixing desk. For nearly a year we made do with a Frankenstein’s monster of different spltters and adaptors, one of which was always on the verge of death. One day José Barbosa, our in-house producer, appearing with an octopus-like Belkin adaptor which gives us up to six headphone jacks and a sense of audio peace we’ve never known.
+ Can you think of any item or service that would be useful to you but doesn’t exist yet?
The 40 Year Old Virgin has much to commend it as a comedy. But the thing which has stayed with me was his partner’s occupation: the ‘we sell your stuff on eBay store’. That seems a no-brainer to me! A one stop Trade Me shop, which handles all the horrible person-to-person crap that makes online auctioneering a source of deep dread. Who wouldn’t pay almost any percentage of their fee to avoid that?
+ What’s an item that you’re planning on buying soon?
Always a new television. I read the JB Hi-Fi catalogues in the Weekend Herald with the excitement you’re meant to have when you pick up Canvas. I never actually buy the TVs, but am in a constant and agitated state of planning for that purchase.
+ What’s your favourite store?
Kmart. The transformation from that groaning, nearly-dead department nightmare to the ultra-cheap, well-designed store of my dreams is the greatest retail transformation of our times. I will go there any time for any reason.
This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 744 June / July 2016