The automakers bombard us every day with images of S.U.V.s driving off road, perhaps on the theory that some percentage of people who aren’t sickened by the images will want to drop some $599.99 a month for 36 months for the chance to drive on the shrinking part of the planet that isn’t paved yet. All that advertising must have made the driver of this S.U.V. think it was O.K. to plow into the shrubs that stood on the tiny bit of green space between the entrance road and adjacent ample free parking. This is as close as most S.U.V. owners get to going “off road,” but the destructive images in the advertising persist.
This was the scene on Friday at the Circuit City on Route 1 in Norwalk, Conn., where Startsandfits.com spent some time this weekend. This driver of this S.U.V. was apparently too important a person to spend a few minutes looking for an actual parking space. Or maybe there were no parking spaces to be found when he or she was looking. That would illuminate a problem that faces merchants in those places where the number of people who can shop at a store is limited by the number of people who can park in its lot. In such places, store designers build as many parking spaces they think they’ll need on the day after Thanksgiving. The merchant pays for all of the spaces, even though many of them sit unused for the better part of the year’s remaining 364 days. (Actually, the merchant passes on the cost of these usually-unneeded parking spaces to you, the consumer.) But as happened on Friday, things can turn ugly if more people want to shop than can fit in the parking lot. People become impatient when their expectations are not met. In our beloved city, with its multiple transportation modes, a store’s capacity is not restricted by such a thing, and merchants can make more money per square foot.