Holiday Shopping in the Twilight Zone: A World Without Signage

by Christina Krenek

Holiday Shopping in the Twilight Zone: Going to the Mall in a World Without Signage

(Image ©CBS)

Signs are all around us, but chances are you’ve probably never stopped to think what life would be like without all of those helpful visual aids we often take for granted. Simple shopping trips would take on a surreal, suspenseful quality, much like an epic episode from Rod Sterling’s famed television show of the 1960s. Picture it — eager shoppers wandering aimlessly in search of holiday gifts for loved ones yet trapped inside a parallel dimension of our imagination.

Read on and let’s explore what holiday shopping would be like in a world without signage.

Last Exit

You head out the door, eager to hit the mall early before the crowds ensue. There’s only one problem, your normal route is blocked off by a construction detour, which wouldn’t be a huge deal except that there are no wayfinding signs to guide you toward an alternate route. You’re left to fend for yourself (sound effect goes here). You follow the steady line of fellow drivers but that only leads to a dead end.

Hours later

You find your way to the mall but once inside you’re left in a completely different quandary. Uncle Frank had his heart set on a Rise & Shine Natural Wake Up Light and you can’t tell the difference between Brookstone and Sharper Image. There’s no retail signage  on the inside or outside to help you determine the right store. No inviting window displays rousing your curiosity and calling you inside. You flee, hoping to at least get your sister that new lime green designer scarf she wanted. Now where is that one department store?

About to Give up

You’ve been at the mall for two hours and you haven’t found a single gift on your holiday shopping list. Exhausted and searching for answers (and the restrooms) you head down a side hallway, but wind up in a maze of stock rooms and back offices. Still wandering, you find a telltale drinking fountain but have to guess between the left door and the right door because there are no regulatory signs saying “men’s” or “women’s.” You choose incorrectly and enter a restricted area, drawing the attention of two security guards who chase you down the hallway. Luckily you’re familiar with the stockrooms by now and hide out there until “the coast is clear.”

You make a mad dash for the parking garage trying hard to remember which level you were on when you arrived. Nothing is marked so every floor looks exactly the same.

The Getaway

You finally locate your car after another painstaking hour or so and race out, perhaps a little too quickly. Luckily, the motorcycle cop who pulls you over is unable to write a ticket, because there are no traffic signs with speed limits properly posted and everyone is pretty much driving like they’re on the autobahn in Germany.

Isn’t it a relief to know this scenario would only exist in the mind of a Hollywood studio executive? Signage as we know it is here to stay, thankfully, and for the holiday shoppers out there this season, it’s a welcome guide.

#RetailTwilightZone with your mall signage nightmares to our Twitter @FASTSIGNS .