Hollister - the store not the town - has to be one of the last places on earth that any sane 56-year-old would go.
The ambiance makes it clear this is not your father's clothing store. They segregate clothing by "Bettys" and "Dudes." The label is aimed at teens from 14 to 18. The interior is kept dimly lit obviously in a bid to prevent the adults accompanying teens on shopping trips from being able to read the price tags therefore reducing the chances of a coronary.
One of the drawbacks of the Christmas season is shopping for anyone hooked on Hollister casual wear.
That's because besides having less lighting than your typical haunted house attraction, Hollister plays loud music. Strike that. Hollister plays real loud music.
While it isn't rap crap - the genre is an eclectic selection of pop music and alternative rock - corporate policy requires stores to blare the music at between 80 and 85 decibels. To give you an idea, that is the same noise level that a garbage disposal makes at 15 meters.
It makes the transaction at the cash register a tad interesting. It's the only store in Vintage Faire Mall that I had to have the "Betty" - I assume that's what they call female clerks - repeat not once but four times what she was saying to me.
And while it was just a irritation for me given I spent about 30 minutes in the store, I can only imagine what it can do to the long-term hearing loss of someone who works full-time in such a store. Even the old Tower Records never had music blaring that loud.
Hollister's marking strategy - which apparently includes plans down the road to open trendy hearing aid stores for when their core clientele ages - isn't what got me. To each their own.
It was the music I heard coming from a teen boy as we approached each other in a Hollister aisle that had about as much maneuvering room as a mosh pit. The tunes blaring from his ear buds were actually drowning out the incessant Hollister music.
While I can appreciate one wanting to silence the Hollister playlist, I couldn't help but wonder whether he'd be deaf by the time he reached 30.
I admit I like playing music loud from time to time but I try to at least show some respect for the dead if not my ear drums.
I also noticed he had something that wasn't a part of the Hollister look - ear gauges.
A few minutes later while joining half the population of the Northern San Joaquin Valley trying to make its way through the mall on the Saturday before Christmas, I started noticing that a lot of teens had ear buds listening to their tunes as well as having ear gauges.
That's when it hit me. There is an entire generation abusing their ears whether it is the inner workings or their outward appearance. One wonders what my grandmother would say if she were around today. She thought anyone putting a Q-tip into their ear was reckless.
That said there is golden opportunity out there for a savvy firm into design and marketing.
Think about it. The ear gauges when worn long enough will probably lead to droopy ear lobes as today's teens crest 40 if not before they get their braces removed. Their hearing won't be much better especially given a study earlier this year shows almost 20 percent of all teens already have some form of hearing loss.
Marry the two together and you have a product that will have venture capitalists knocking down your door - hearing aids designed to look like ear gauges.
Users not only can restore some of their hearing but get rid of droopy ear lobes at the same time.
All you have to do is beat Hollister to the punch.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.