Van Nuys, CA: Naturalists from all over the country have converged on the fertile retail crescent of the San Fernando Valley to observe a rare natural phenomenon. As the holidays draw near and the bargains begin to blow in, the rare in-person shopper begins its slow migration to the local discount stores. This season has drawn more observers than usual, as there have been large declines in the population of the species. Some experts believe this may be one of the last times to observe this bizarre ritual.
“It’s human-related causes,” explained Dr. John McHedwig. “All the internet traffic has cut through their natural habitat, forcing them move on to the less hospitable environments of Target and Walmart.”
A particularly large herd of shoppers congregated outside the Van Nuys Target, milling about looking for choice deals. One shopper attempted to keep her young in line as she perused a particularly lush bit of clearance jeans. Another performed a rarely-seen mating dance with a cashier. A pair of shoppers were locked in a territory dispute, circling one another around the last plasma TV.
“This is so exciting to watch,” said Barbara McGlinty, one of the many naturalists observing from the parking lot. “It’s like they’ve never heard of Amazon.”
One of the main appeals for naturalists watching the shoppers is it makes them feel in touch with their primitive roots. Bob McDash has been coming to watch them every year. “It’s so primal. The way they haggle over prices and pay in cash. It’s a whole other world.”
There have been efforts to conserve the dwindling population, but with limited success. Some shoppers were raised in captivity, fed with small discounts and the occasional clearance deal. However, without their tradition freeway migration, they began to grow restless. In one instance, a zookeeper was attacked for wearing designer fleece too close to the cage.
In the end, it appears that, like the DVD renter and the book store browser, the discount shopper population will continue to dwindle. It is only during the lead-up to the holidays and the mating frenzy of Black Friday that people will be able to observe the bizarre shopping behaviors. Conservation agencies like Walmart and Target will continue to work tirelessly to provide the kind of deals that sustain these populations. But still, it is worth cherishing these rare moments of shopper culture.
“It’s a real treat to watch,” said McDash, snapping a few photos of shoppers switching price tags. “They’re just like people!”