Air Conditioning As A Marketing Tool: No Longer Smart

Air conditioning is not just one of the most important summertime problems facing the media. It's a problem facing everyone, because high gas prices are turning air conditioners into machines that burn $100 bills to produce cool air. Stores in high foot traffic areas have always thrown their doors open in the summer and blasted the AC, knowing that sweaty people will come in and browse just to get out of the sun. But now that strategy is not only hugely expensive, but bad PR as well; environmentalist customers will whine and complain and call the city and organize boycotts. An intrepid NYT reporter finds that wanton AC-wasters are centered—like the media—in SoHo:

Along 34th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, 15 stores flooded the sidewalk with their air-conditioning. On a three-block stretch of Broadway in SoHo, from Houston Street to Broome Street, the number was 29. Among the energy wasters were major retailers like Steve Madden, H & M, Foot Locker, Aerosoles, Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor Loft, Arden B., Aldo, Uniqlo, Esprit and Zara.

Not Lane Bryant! There's a proposed law to fine retailers that do this, but it doesn't look too popular politically. More effective is the "asshole customer" route. Think of it as a free chance to berate Steve Madden.

[NYT]