The Great Debate over the impact of the Marketplace on the in-world economy is not new; nor is it likely to run its course any time soon. Even with its bugs, quirks, issues and annoyances, the Marketplace is a convenient means of shopping for many of us; so much so that it is easy to dispense with in-world visits to stores at all, unless looking for something very specific which requires a visual once-over prior to purchase.
However, while the Marketplace may well be of great convenience, it does mean that often when using it, we can miss out on an important aspect of in-world shopping – which is that many stores are part of some really creative and eye-catching builds.
I was reminded of this while visiting Pure Dreams recently. The home of Amelie Knelstrom’s Vespertine Home and Deco is a beautiful sim currently lying under a blanket of snow, the water around it frozen, and the high mountains tinted blue in the fresh, crisp air.
The store itself features a coffee shop, where patrons can sit and chat if they so wish, and is surrounded by a beautiful winter scene worthy of a visit in its own right. This is a place where visitors are positively encouraged to take their time not only shopping, but in exploring and enjoying themselves.
Regular readers may have spotted that many of the destinations I’ve covered in this blog are actually connected to commercial ventures – Tatty Soup, The Looking Glass, Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Black Spot, Sleepless Nights – to name but a handful. There’s no coincidence in this – it’s because these regions are, to me, some of the most outstanding and photogenic places in Second Life, and are often a tour-de-force of what the imagination can create when given the tools available to us through the viewer. By turning to the Marketplace first, they are also places we can all too easily miss in the rush to find whatever knickknacks we’re seeking; and that’s a shame.
Of course, it could be argued that not all stores offer such enticing – even romantic, at times – opportunities to explore, and finding them is pretty much a case of trial-and-error. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Within the Marketplace there is an option for a merchant to provide a SLurl to their in-world store – where it is provided, why not give it a go before making a purchase? It may not always lead you to a winter wonderland or a spring garden or a similar place of beauty and imagination – but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. And it’s not as if you’ll have to waste time getting there; the teleport is a wonderful thing…
While the Destination Guide may not be perfect, it does at least offer something of an alternative to blind chance in finding a store in an eye-catching location. And never forget the value of perusing blogs – I’m far from alone in featuring the beautiful builds often associated with stores in-world, as a visit to the likes of Honour McMillan and Ziki Questi will demonstrate.
The effort taken to find places like Pure Dreams or the Cheeky Tiramisu Cafe and others is not only in finding wonderful places to explore, it is also in finding places you can share with friends, and can return to agin and again – Cheeky Tiramisu’s cafe has a warm and friendly run of patrons happy to sit and chat, while places like Tatty Soup encourage quiet contemplation.
And even casual visits can help a business or merchant – even if you don’t drop in and buy something, there are always opportunities to show appreciation, both through telling others about your visit and the build, and in dropping a few lindens into any handy tip jar or donations box.
The Marketplace is great for the quick grab-and-go when you’re looking for something very specific or have limited time; it’s fast and convenient for most of us; but in an age when instant gratification tends to over-rule other considerations, it’s sometimes good to remember that window shopping can also be rewarding, can be shared – and may even lead to some wonderful discoveries.