ShopDropping: Reverse Shoplifting

This is an interesting new trend. Instead of stealing from stores, people are adding items that the stores don't carry in order to promote their business or cause.

This is the season of frenetic shopping, but for a devious few people it's also the season of spirited shopdropping.

Otherwise known as reverse shoplifting, shopdropping involves surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.

Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the "new releases" section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards – their Web site address included, of course – and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

"Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn't we?" said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands' CDs – marked "free" – on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

Sounds like a business opportunity to me. Stores should set aside a few shelves that they can auction off weekly to the highest bidder. It would give them a way to test market new products that they may want to carry, without the accompanying risk of carrying the inventory.

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