World Wide Wob – Remember the game show ‘Supermarket Sweep’, where you had two-and-a-half minutes to run around the grocery store, and fill your shopping cart with as many items as possible … and the contestant with the biggest checkout tab won?
Ok, what if we took this same concept — and applied it to looting?
I think the whole Ferguson situation and people’s reactions therein on both sides are particularly awful and miss the entire picture more often than not. So this blog is not about that. But I am intrigued by riot culture in general, whether it was the carnival of failure that was CNN’s reporting last night or what the rioters themselves were doing. As a result, I was all in on the coverage and stayed up watching until 2am. And one thing stuck with me while watching the carnage: How disappointed must the people be who ended up looting the hair salon or Autozone be as opposed to the people robbing the liquor store or Best Buy? With one misstep you end up elbow deep in horse hair instead of a brand new PS4 with GTA V bundle. Looting is a game of inches.
Enter @World_Wide_Wob, one of my favorite Twitter follows, and him replying with the important question of which stores I’d choose to riot in a situation like this along with some hilarious rules and thoughts that I’m going to adapt for some guidelines:
1) You have to be able to carry out what you’re stealing with your hands, though it can be multiple trips
2) The items all have to fit in a compact sedan vehicle
3) You cannot steal money from a bank or anywhere else in which items would be locked away and difficult to access
Right off the bat these rules give us a framework to go off of. Carrying the items keeps you from stealing cars or refrigerators and the rules of society and sedan storage prohibit you from stealing a Scrooge McDuck-sized swimming pool of gold coins. You also have to keep in mind that you have to be able to turn whatever you’re stealing into something useful, whether that means you flipping it quickly for a profit or using it yourself. So in this scenario, here’s my ranking of a top 5 places to loot, from worst to first:
5) Liquor store
In theory it seems like a great idea to steal a bunch of booze and just have a good time. Easy, relatively portable, and guaranteed to function as expected — though if you’ve ever carried home three bottles of liquor in the same bag, you know the feeling of being perpetually at risk of sucking the sweet nectars out of shattered glass. It just seems like liquor store is one of those great things to loot in theory but gets less practical the more you think about it. And if you’re looting in a place like Ferguson, let’s be honest, you’re not exactly going to find $700 30-year vintage Merlots to pawn off on eBay. You’re much more likely to end up sadly drinking a cracked bottle of Alizé out of Solo cups in your house currently missing a wall. Verdict: liquor store makes the cut but just barely.
4) Hair salon
Big time upset, I know, but hear me out now that I’ve had time to think about it: How much dumb shit has your wife or girlfriend spent on beauty products in the last year? Has to be in the hundreds or thousands, right? Why not loot the shit out of the local hair salon and turn crisis into opportunity? Welcome to a world where Mister Chris © is the hottest beauty brand around thanks to a high quality laser printer I stole from Best Buy, a pirated copy of Photoshop, and a shitload of stolen goods from the hair salon. Beauty products are 90% branding and 10% function anyway so as long as we’re marketing the shit out of it via a tasteful yet mysterious Instagram. If anyone asks where I got it from, it’s an old Italian family recipe, can’t reveal it because of trade secrets. Fool proof riot entrepreneurialism like you read about.
3) Drug store
Love the variety you can get here if you’re looting your local Duane Reade. Pills? We’ve got them in spades and you can become a party king, a full-on addict, or a real-life Walter White with your supply. Long-term earnings all over. Maybe I just don’t want to ever pay for toilet paper again for the rest of my life. Need a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush for your boss’s holiday gift (shh don’t tell Pres, it’ll ruin his surprise)? We’ve got that, too. The only limit is your imagination and how close you get to Heath Ledgering yourself while still at the drug store and that’s what I like about it. You’ve definitely got to come in with a plan and I’m not sure foresight is a traditional staple of the rioter so that marks it down a little but you can’t beat the sheer wealth of options for business or play. Variety is the spice of my new criminal life.
2) Department store
Some of the same logic in the department store as the drug store so why does a department store finish higher than the place where I can get a lifetime supply of Oxys? Good question, me. It all boils down to the bigger selection. Sure a pharmacy has a ton of stuff I could sell but how much would I really want there? There may be some extra snacks at the drug store but a department store is HUGE. And if we’re lucky and it’s a Walmart I’ve also basically got a full supermarket baked in. Add in an electronics department and if it’s got a clothing selection like a Kohl’s or Macy’s I’ve also taken care of my entire wardrobe for the rest of my life. The department store is a five-tool player, the Mike Trout of things I would loot the shit out of if given the opportunity. Beef jerky, a Nerf gun, and a copy of NBA 2K15…Condoms, a Swiffer, and Pokemon cards…those special edition Lays “Do Us A Flavor” chips, a new hat, and a leafblower. The permutations are endless and probably slightly less bizarre than what I just laid out there. That’s why you can’t top a department store on a pure practical value riot looting proposition.
1) Jewelry store
Last night I would have put an electronics store here but why do that when I can get the gist and carryable big ticket items from the department store? But that’s why we think these out. So at number one, the American dream, is a jewelry store. Do I need new diamond earrings or a tennis bracelet? No. Do I need some Jacob the Jeweler platinum blingy chain with an oversized diamond-crusted dollar sign pendant on it with room to spare for enough jewels and gold to pay for the rest of my life? No. But will I take both no questions asked? Absolutely. Sure the risk of getting busted selling this stuff is way higher than my genius beauty products plan but if you get a shot at looting a jewelry store you HAVE TO take it. Maybe that logic isn’t sound or practical, like when the Wizards drafted Kwame Brown thinking he was the platonic ideal of a big man basketball player only to realize he couldn’t shoot a basketball or walk without tripping over his own feet. But you’ve just got to shoot for the stars when given the chance. And that’s what I’m willing to do.
Plus who hasn’t seen a heist movie where they smash the glass and scoop all the jewelry out into a bag and thought “Why not me?” Sometimes you can’t overthink or properly think through things and you just go with what feels right, not unlike the actual rioters themselves. So maybe I relate to the rioters more than I initially thought. Sometimes you start a wildly insensitive list about riots expecting to teach and end up learning a little bit about yourself. Life is funny like that sometimes.
PS Rob had a different spin on the rules so his is equally worth reading for that reason. A penguin factors in prominently if you weren’t sold yet.
(Looter image by Shutterstock)