That's Retail-tainment!

Stores are wooing customers by making the shopping less forbidding, more friendly--and fun

A fact of modern American life: shopping for cosmetics, like wading through certain Don DeLillo novels or trying to make sense of the plotlines for Melrose Place, is not an easy undertaking. Step onto the mazelike cosmetics floor of almost any department store and you are likely to be assaulted by salesclerks--some spritz-happy, some too eager to confront you about your shiny forehead. Chances are the beauty product you're looking for is under glass, off limits to mere customers. According to at least one market-research survey on the way cosmetics are presented and pitched in stores, the entire process "inhibits friendliness."

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