The train platforms and cars are filled with advertising – vacation spots, medical trials, fancy alcohol, and food delivery services. Even the LED displays with news about track repairs and reroutes alternate with ads for TV shows, and festivals. But there is something missing. Something that would complete the commercial experience: a phone app to buy whatever you see.
I’ve heard of devices you can point at your TV to buy the clothes your favorite stars are wearing. Sure, these are curated wardrobes, assembled by teams of savvy folk. But what about the clothes people are wearing during their commute to work? A lady is wearing a blue and white sleeveless seersucker dress that looks so cool and comfortable. I want to ask her where in the world she found the perfect summer dress, but she gets off at the next stop and disappears into the crowd. Someone else has a tote that is so much more professional looking than the bag I sling my lunch box and shoes into. Squinting, I can see a designer label and wonder if it’s real or a knock off.
Those polka dotted flats with a rounded toe look comfy, practical and cute. Plus they might be in my size. Searches on Zappos come up empty, yet here they next to me on the train. I’ve also seen an assortment of colorful insulated lunch bags that would be so much more fun than my black one. I assess the storage size of different backpacks, and the combinations of fabrics and hues available from Timbuktu.
I see young professional men wearing wild colored socks with their conservative suits, sports jackets of gorgeously subtle patterns, phone cases, cool earrings, and hats. Things I can never find when I’m shopping for family birthday gifts.
The CTA sells merchandise showing the rail system map, your favorite stop, and old fare tokens. I say they’re missing a big opportunity to use the Sky Mall model to turn idle travelers into cash cows. They could help us find the best commuting shoes, bags with comfortable handles, and lightweight clothing for steamy rush hour packed cars. We just need that app to tell us where the other riders found those things.
In my imagination, the app reveals that the people in this train car shop at Macy’s,Target, and Barney’s. Other items I can see around me came from the Salvation Army, a boyfriend’s closet, or were made by hand. Alas. One-of-a-kind and unique. But that’s makes the ride interesting too.