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April 23, 2013

Brick Layers

Have you signed up for Amazon Prime yet? I finally took the plunge last week! The biggest draw for me? You get unlimited 2-day free shipping on a gazillion items with no minimum order. In theory, if I wanted to do my part in killing the environment, I could order, say, a toothbrush today since I forgot to buy one at the grocery store. And then on Thursday, it might hit me that I need new place mats, like, pronto. The perfect ones are, after all, only one click and two days away.

OK, so I vow to use my Prime membership responsibly, but my shopping habits will certainly change. A recent study found that “Prime members annually spent more than twice as much on average ($1,224) than non-Prime customers ($505).” The fact that I just bought no-show socks and Jo Malone perfume on Amazon instead of driving to Nordstrom means I’ll surpass $1,224 by…June.

Overall, I’m a fairly typical consumer who uses e-commerce sites and mobile apps for a growing number of items while still visiting brick-and-mortar stores for others. (Perishable food and jeans fall into the latter category for me.) I also practice showrooming unabashedly. (Who doesn’t?)

While retailers and e-tailers are busy figuring out the right blend of online and offline strategies, I’ve been quietly snapping photos of actual bricks and mortar. (Alright, it was a long setup to get to this segue but hey, you can’t blame a girl for trying.) Each has a distinct look and feel:

Raw: a Pepto-Bismol pink decay in New York City.

Patriotic: red, white and blue bricks in Georgetown. (I rotated the photo 180 degrees.)

Exposed: peeled-away paint reveals an underbelly of color in Georgetown.

Orderly: earth-toned palette and clean lines in San Francisco.

The secret life of bricks: layers of texture on the side of a building near DC’s Chinatown.

Classic glory: I love the facade on this jewel-box of a house in Georgetown. (This was taken during Christmastime.)

Sketchy: outlined storefronts in downtown DC.

Interestingly, Amazon may soon be laying bricks in building retail outlets. Five months ago, Jeff Bezos hinted, “We want to do something that is uniquely Amazon, and if we can find that idea, and we haven’t found that idea yet, we would love to open Amazon stores.”

Update on July 15, 2013: Read this firsthand account of an Amazon Prime addict.