Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canadian Tire Loves Your Family

I know the old journalistic saw is that "three is a trend" but I'm going to jump the gun just a little and declare a definite pattern. At two. It's a pattern of two. It doesn't quite have the same gut-oomph as a trio, but I'm not sure I care. With that caveat out of the way, can I be like Seinfeld and ask what's the deal with Ovaltine? No, wait, sorry: what's the deal with Canadian Tire's newest product...which is, um, life insurance? No, I'm not kidding: the same people who will sell you a variety of potentially deadly products will also sell you insurance should your canoe/mitre saw/bicycle get out of control and make orphans of your children. It seems a little conflict-of-interest-y, no?

Remember back in the day, when President's Choice decided to offer financial services? "And lo, there was a great guffawing from coast-to-coast." (Memories of Eden, 4:7) Now those little silver bank cards are everywhere. It turned out to be a surprisingly prescient move for PC to sell banking services along with salsa and cheese.

As a sidebar: how is PC so freaking savvy? I feel like they can practically read minds. I'll lie in bed one morning, thinking to myself how much I like ice cream/pad thai/meatless burgers. The next time I go to a store that sells PC goods, bam: there's my baby, and with a 70% chance of being totally delicious. How do they do that? I suspect there's some sort of soul-selling going on.

Anyway, this trend of offering bank services along with tennis rackets is starting to freaking me out. When I was a kid, I remember going to places like Price Club or Costco, thinking how weird it was you could buy eyeglasses and a hot tub from the same store. I guess this two-at-a-time thing started being a phenomenon when drugstores started developing your film for you, as though asthma has something to do photos of your honeymoon. Doubling up is fine: tire centers should have free air for cyclists, and it makes sense for bookstores to sell magazines and fancy stationary. But offering financial services with goods like fruit baskets or socket wrenches sort of boggles the mind.

So, what to do? I guess there's no good reason for Canadian Tire and Presidents' Choice to quit it with the abstract services, especially if people use them. But what's the logical conclusion? Will Dairy Queen start offering health insurance? (God, if that's the case, sign me up. There's something delightful about the very idea.) I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with this. It sort of smells weird...maybe like a body that's been found beside a nail gun, holding a life insurance premium...both sold at Canadian Tire. Dun dun dun! I would have made such a bad-ass Agatha Christie if she wasn't already filling that role nicely.

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