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Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

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Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Bruce N H » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:48 pm

Hey all,

I was in the LEGO aisle of a store a few days ago, sorting through Collectible figs by feel, and I overheard this drama going on. A kid was begging his mom for a big (like $75-$100) Ninjago set, and she was saying it was way too expensive. She asked him why he wanted it and it was for a particular fig, and she told him there was no way she was going to buy this huge set for the sake of one fig. I debated whether I wanted to say anything, but finally I went over and quietly told the mom to check Bricklink, that she'd be able to get that figure for $5 or so (actually, I checked later and it would cost $12, as it is some snake man that's only available in the one big Ninjago set). Anyway, I hesitated to say anything because I figured she was going to wonder who this strange man was coming over to give LEGO purchasing advice. Turns out she thanked me and said she was going to go online and look for Bricklink.

It happens fairly often that I'll see some people in the store staring at different LEGO sets - usually I just keep my peace. I was just wondering - how often do you give advice to strangers in the LEGO aisle? How do they respond?

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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby rogue27 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:36 pm

I was feeling some Series 7 Collectible Minfigure packs and a kid came up and started doing the same. I asked, "Which one are you looking for?" "The space marine!" "Oh, that's my favorite! Check for the gun. It's usually in the bottom corner."

However, it's more often that kids start talking to me. They'll maybe overhear me talking to my wife about a Star Wars ship that is on clearance, and come on over to share their opinions. "I have that one, it's really cool. This part here opens up and..."

In either situation, things aren't so cheerful when the mother catches up with her child. There is very definitely a, "Get away from that creepy man!" tone in her actions as she draws the child away.

For that, and many other reasons, I usually avoid the LEGO aisles until they are empty.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Fraslund » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:02 am

I wouldn't say I go out of my way to talk to people, but I find that I quite often interact with other people in the Lego aisle. Basically if they verbalize a question that typically tells me that they are open to interaction. We have a fairly active LuG and Brickcon is only about 45 min away, so I take the chance to tell them about brickcon and where to save the most money.

Anytime I have been sorting figs and there is someone who looks at them, I ask what they are looking for and offer to help or give them tips on how to find what they are looking for. Sometimes I even pull out my phone and show them pics of my stuff and a few pics from the con if they sound interested in coming to brickcon. I find that many of these people are blown away when you show them some of the stuff that is built at the conventions.

Most people I have talked to are very grateful for the advice and respond well.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby theboywarrior » Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:25 pm

Well, typically my experience is the same as rogue's, however, being sixteen, it's less 'creepy man,' and more 'weird kid'. However, I did manage to steer a couple people away from the Megabloks once. :D Proud of myself for that one. Also I give my own input on sets that I own or that have been reviewed here or elsewhere on the web, and I've found some minifigs for little kids before. Nothing really special after that.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Bluesecrets » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:40 pm

I help out no matter what. If a parent comes up to me and gives me a look, I just say "Well I'm an ambassador to LEGO, and willing to help any who need it." Which pretty much leads to more discussion but it is all good. If we want the younger generation to continue to build when they reach that age of building isn't socially acceptable by their peers, then we need to reach out and try and be helpful. Plus in the long run, parents are much more grateful to have help than to just buy stuff without knowledge.

Now that being said, I am not someone who uses the "feel me up" method to find collecti figs. I'm good with getting whatever I get. I grab 10 pay and if I don't get what I want...there is good old bricklink or getting another 10. Heck, I think I prefer getting the box of 30 figs instead of the random hope of the "feel me up" method. Either way, I ALWAYS defer to kids who are wanting collecti figs first. Why? Because it is quite simple, kids hardly ever get a hold of these figs because the AFOLs and TFOLs hoard them. Don't believe me? Just check around any online community and how we have people who have 10+ copies of the forest women. And then tell me that ANY kids have actually found her on their own? I have yet to find any series 9 in a store around me...and yes I have looked and here series 10 is already poking its head out in public.

I do not share bricklink with parents or kids for a simple reason, kids order things without parental consent then the poor bricklink seller has to deal with it. I personally refer them to Troy's Brick and Morter stores, giving him business and the parents a way to control what the child is able to buy or not. I will tell them to ebay. Heck, I tell parents to ebay the brick around their houses instead of putting it in a garage sale.

So yes, I help people and since I don't actually know these people, I don't give a flying fig what they think of me as long as I have helped them. The world is way too full of too much negativity and people who do not bother to be polite or helpful already (both online and in real life).
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Bruce N H » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:24 pm

Hey,

I think if I were a teen or a woman (TBW and BS's case above) I'd be much more willing to approach kids. It's just, as a dad, I wouldn't be comfortable with random 40+ year old guys approaching my kids, and so I don't do the same with other peoples' kids. I'm much more willing to give unsolicited advice to adults. I wish we all had brick and mortar stores like Troy's around to point people to. Around here it's just Target and Toys R Us (I just finally found Series 9 in TRU, btw, Blue).

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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Fraslund » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:53 pm

Bruce N H wrote:Hey,

I think if I were a teen or a woman (TBW and BS's case above) I'd be much more willing to approach kids. It's just, as a dad, I wouldn't be comfortable with random 40+ year old guys approaching my kids, and so I don't do the same with other peoples' kids. I'm much more willing to give unsolicited advice to adults. I wish we all had brick and mortar stores like Troy's around to point people to. Around here it's just Target and Toys R Us (I just finally found Series 9 in TRU, btw, Blue).

Bruce


I should point out, that these people I am interacting with are adults; Most often moms with kids running around or grandparents. I feel the same as you, I wouldn’t want some creeper rolling up on my kids. Also half the time I have my two boys with me. Typically in my case most people think it’s weird I am into Lego because I kind of a bigger guy (like that matters..) but as soon as they see what we build, they immediately get it.

I am also very fortunate where I live because there are so many retail stores around, there seem to be plenty of minifigs to go around. I try to be a good steward and if i know there are two of <X> in a box, I will take one. Also because I live near 2 Fred Meyer, Walmart, and Targets, I can usually steer people towards saving a few bucks.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby AK_Brickster » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:27 pm

I always offer to help people find whatever fig they are looking for. I think the most important thing to keep in mind to avoid being "the creepy guy" is to keep the focus of your interaction with the adults. Don't ask the little boy "What fig are you looking for", ask the mom, "Is there a particular figure that your son is looking for? I might be able to help you get out of here a little faster if you'd like me to help find it." :)

I also inform parents who are eying sets if there are any sales going on (particularly at places like Fred Meyer where the fairly regular "10% off Home Goods" coupon is hidden in the back of the flier, and most people don't know it applies to toys, if they even find it at all). They usually appreciate it.

Like David, if the parents seem interested, then I'll tell them about BrickCon and if they are REALLY interested, then I'll show them a picture or two from last year's convention, usually something that will blow their mind like Hogwarts or the 12'-tall Space Needle. Last year, a dad and his two kids actually recognized me while I was wandering the convention because I had helped them find minifigs a few months earlier and had suggested they come to BrickCon. They made the trip all the way from Spokane and I thought it was pretty neat that I had given them the information that resulted in them coming out and having a great time.

One last tip - Another thing that helps is to make sure you shower before going to the toy store. The only thing creeper than an grown man feeling up minifigs is a grown man feeling up minifigs who hasn't shaved in two weeks, is wearing some ratty old t-shirt, and smells like BO, lol. ;)

As for hoarding minifigs (yes, I do own close to 10 forest maidens), I think that's a different discussion ;)
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Bluesecrets » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:16 pm

As for hoarding minifigs (yes, I do own close to 10 forest maidens), I think that's a different discussion ;)


Not if gathering those figs means you stepped in front of a kid who would like them and wants to find them.

Maybe I'm more approachable because of the female thing...maybe not. Who can say? If I were to guess, I wouldn't agree.

But the difference is how you approach a situation. No AFOL I have met looks like a "creeper" and reality is, consider the interaction. Yes, talk to the adult. Why wouldn't you? But then isn't that how you would react to any situation that involves kids?
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Rick-Ricks » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:19 pm

I've given advice to parents/grandparents about what to buy, I'm at an age where I look anywhere between 16-30, so they tend to assume the older and that I'm there buying for a child.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Fraslund » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:12 am

Bluesecrets wrote:
As for hoarding minifigs (yes, I do own close to 10 forest maidens), I think that's a different discussion ;)


Not if gathering those figs means you stepped in front of a kid who would like them and wants to find them.

Maybe I'm more approachable because of the female thing...maybe not. Who can say? If I were to guess, I wouldn't agree.

But the difference is how you approach a situation. No AFOL I have met looks like a "creeper" and reality is, consider the interaction. Yes, talk to the adult. Why wouldn't you? But then isn't that how you would react to any situation that involves kids?


I honestly don't think I have ever seen a kid looking for a minifig when I was in the Lego section of any store. I usually go later in the night or during the day. The only time I have seen kids actively looking is at the actual lego store. I don't know any AFOL who would intentionally brick block a kid, but also I don't think AFOL have any less right to the products. I think there is a common courtesy that you would show to anyone.

As far at the creeper comment, I was refering to the act of walking up to a kid and talking to them. I would feel that way if I did that and it would creep me out at first of someone did that to my kids regardless of how they looked.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby OverLoad » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:03 pm

Most of the time I'm at the LEGO store (yes, I am quite lucky for having one 10 minutes from my house) so it's more or less that the LEGO employees take handle of that. But, even in that setting, I do engage in conversation if someone were to ask me something. Being that I spend most of the time looking back at the PaB wall, I often get asked about the contents and the workings of the aforementioned wall.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby SSchmidt » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:47 am

I usually don't give advice unless approached.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Tedward » Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:51 pm

AK_Brickster wrote:I think the most important thing to keep in mind to avoid being "the creepy guy" is to keep the focus of your interaction with the adults.

I think this is a wise policy for any and all interactions in North American culture today. I don't have a sense of the levels of paranoia in Europe and elsewhere but child-abductions are a huge issue for parents (reasonable or justified or not). It is to the point where here in sleepy Victoria, BC, Canada I got looked at funny when I suggested my middle-schooler (grade 6) should be able to get himself a mile-and-a-half to and from school, every day and many kids do not walk the four blocks to elementary school unaccompanied.

So, as a parent, LEGO-nut and Cub Scout leader, in these sort of situations I always respect the parents and children by clearly addressing the adult and allowing them to mediate any interaction with their child. It is really just good manners frankly.

I find most parents (and even more so grandparents) appreciate the advice.
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Re: Giving advice in the LEGO aisle

Postby Elbadar » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:41 pm

I offer to help when kids are looking for figs, and a couple of times their parents have asked me to find additional figs after I find the first one. I definitely agree that if you are going fig-feeling you should be well groomed. For me having a good shave and shower is the difference between strapping young go-getter and possible drug dealer :lol:

I really don't see the harm in picking whatever fig you want if you are equipped to find it, and I really don't have the money to blow on getting the ones that I have no use for. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that most kids aren't interested in the armybuilders that I typically attempt to find. I mean, how many kids are so into fantasy that they want the forest maiden, or love ancient history enough to care about any of the Roman figs? Also, isn't bricklinking them most likely just buying them from some other adult who felt the bags, and thus the same thing as feeling them yourself as far as the kids are concerned?
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