Hey, you ~ get off of my cloud …

In need of fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow – I darted to a local grocery store mid-day in hopes it wouldn’t be too busy. While the store itself can look relatively void of shoppers as I’m working my way around it – the illusion is soon shattered once I make it to the checkout lanes. Today was no exception; four lanes open, each with a minimum of 7 people – and one of them an Express Lane, so out of the question for me.

Keen Life Observer that I am (or Creeper, Lurker or Nosy Parker, depending who you ask) ~ I surreptitiously looked to see what everyone else was buying. As with many things, I find that the groceries in one’s cart or basket tells me something about you. The ‘something’ may not be accurate – but the stories I create in my head keep me amused as I wait for my own line-up to progress to the point where it’s finally my turn to checkout.

With relief, I noted that most people only had a few items ~ meaning the lines would maybe move quickly and efficiently. (I say ‘maybe’ because ‘number of items’ accounts for only ONE of the many speed bumps to efficient grocery store exit, as I’m sure you’re all too aware.) I then noted that many people had the SAME items, and varying quantities of those items. “Ha!” I thought, “Cherry Pickers.”

Cherry Pickers minimize your impact.

In case this term is new to you ~ a Cherry Picker is motivated by price and self-interest and their behaviours will skew your overall results – perhaps leading you to believe you’re performing more effectively than you may actually be, depending on your measure. For instance, the shoppers around me this afternoon had come into the store to buy the allowed limit of items featured on the Grocery’s Store Flyer’s front page. Often, these items are priced attractively to draw traffic to the store with the hope that the customer will also do their regular shop while there. If you see items on the front page of value to you and/or your family at great prices ~ the retailer hopes you’ll buy your entire week’s worth of groceries in their store and, if this store is not one you usually frequent – that you may enjoy the experience enough to come back again

Cherry Pickers give no thought to loyalty – in fact, they have no problem splitting a week’s worth of grocery products amongst a variety of retailers ~ potentially increasing traffic counts and sales while generally adversely impacting profit. The flip of this happens when a sales person chooses who s/he will approach on a sales floor based on a best guess on who will bring the greatest commission rather than who needed assistance first or most.

This got me thinking about Loss Leaders …

Loss leaders are goods or services offered at steep discounts (generally below cost) in order to attract new customers to a store.  The intent of this pricing strategy, again, is to not only have the customer buy the (loss leader) sale item, but other products that are not discounted as well. When customers enter a retail outlet and only purchase the loss leader items – profits bleed.

I was recently startled to hear my Doctor describe a service that was of great value to her patients (to me, anyway) as a loss leader – resulting in the service’s cancellation. The cost to provide the service and the time it took impacted her overhead costs and thus, was no longer offered. Upon reflection – I realize that our time is valuable and we must be conscious of how we invest it – but until then, I’d only considered Loss Leader to be a retail term.

So, what does all this have to do with the price of cheese in Denmark?

We all have Cherry Pickers and Loss Leaders in our lives; people who tap and take advantage of our resources when they need them, serving their own purposes with no thought or intent to provide the ‘give’ part of ‘give and take’.

We’re all guilty, at times, to give ourselves away in the hopes that it will reap greater reward down the road – be it financially, recognition, promotion, entry to Heaven, etc.

And when we are depleted in some way by the Cherry Pickers and Loss Leaders in our lives ~ we tend to resent them. Or, we toil on, giving our best day to day – wondering why our efforts don’t seem to pay off in ways we’d hoped, in ways that seem to work for others.

For instance, do you offer something of value to generate traffic to a website, blog site, FaceBook Page, etc? Maybe an e-book that, in different circumstances, might actually be worth paying for? Maybe a service you provide offered free the first time for those who sign up for your newsletter? Writing Guest Posts with valuable and useful content for others in hopes that you’ll generate followers, influence or customers as a result?

Many do. When I first was finding my way around Social Media participation, set up and maintenance – providing Loss Leaders and putting yourself at the mercy of Cherry Pickers is part of most people’s Top 10 ‘How To Be Successful Online’ guides. And to be fair – if you’re looking to boost traffic numbers in a set time period (or followers or subscribers), it’s an effective tactic to employ. As a long-term strategy however, you may find yourself figuratively bleeding as a result – seeking, instead, a means to grow loyalty and build trust that leads to your goals and objectives in a more win/win fashion.

And on a Personal Level …

Many speed bumps are encountered on the road to our dreams and aspirations. Sometimes circumstances and events force an unanticipated detour. And sometimes, we allow Cherry Pickers and Loss Leaders to distract us from our vision; to shift our focus from what really matters, to too much time and attention spent on things that don’t serve us at all.

The good news is that, at all times, we can choose how we show up – for anything. We can choose what is our responsibility to own or participate in and what we’re allowing to slow us down or stall us. We can give ourselves away to everyone and anyone willing to take what they can when they can in a one-sided way ~ or we can determine boundaries for our time, attention and energy; ensuring that at the end of each day, we’ve made actual progress toward what is meaningful and significant rather than going through the motions of being very busy without having really accomplished much at all.

Oh – I should probably mention as well … observe your own interactions with others, in the event that you might inadvertently be showing up for someone else as a Cherry Picker, bleeding their time, energy and focus at the expense of their goals and priorities. We’re all in this together after all …

(A little fun with the Rolling Stones. If someone’s depleting you ~ go ahead, kick them off your cloud …)


  1. wearmanyhats

    I never thought of myself in this regard, but I would bet most people are like that. This is definately a topic I want to spend more time on in my brain. Thanks for making me think beyond my usual sphere today!


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