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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  • Cool article; thanks for spreading the word about this viral marketing technique. For years, this phenom has been called “droplifting,” and many “zero budget” marketers such as myself have used it to great effect. With a large fan base (who are willing to do some footwork on behalf of the brand/content creator), new markets can easily be reached.

  • I’ve often considered this. Yes, I have been tempted to put business cards in books or “drop” them in the magazine section. Now, while I have been tempted I haven’t done it but I do take advantage of the bulletin boards in resteraunts and coffee shops. Conversely I will make a note to pick up business card that need work or don’t have a web site listed on them and use those as web design prospects.

    I do wish some retail locations had something similar to the the blogging/comment aspect online where local people can participate and more official ways to partner with the retail establishments.

    I am thankful that some places will let you put flyers in the window but that is not a common practice as it used to be.

  • I originally heard about reverse shoplifting as a way for self-published authors to game dumb big-bookstore computer systems. The idea was that a “special order” wouldn’t cause the chain’s computer to replace a book in inventory, but a regular order, whether the book was supposed to be in stock or not would trigger a re-order. If you traveled a bit, you could do this in several different cities which would make the system think there was a groundswell of demand for the book.

  • alyssa

    this is soooo muthafukin stupid!!!!!