Retailers to drop 'paywall'

Stores expect products to fly of shelves; plan on giving shelves away, too

(UPI/Associated Press) NEW YORK CITY -- Numerous merchants across the nation announced today they will heed to 21st Century consumer demands and drop their "paywalls."

Like information on the Internet, merchandise now will be free.

"Americans deserve it. They shouldn't have to dig into their wallets just because they want stuff," said Bo Duncan, one of hundreds of people lined up in front of the Time Square Starbucks this morning.

Just as soon as he picked up the Grande that was rightfully his, Duncan said, he was heading for a Lexis dealership to pick out a new car. "You can't really enjoy hot coffee unless you're driving," he said, making an April Fool's joke. "After all, now I really DO own the road!"

Retailers had mixed reactions to the new economic plan. It certainly will cut into profits, they admitted. On the other hand, they'll have no problem attracting plenty of customers.

The move should particularly benefit staid stores such as Kmart, which has been struggling to make its brand relevant to both traditional buyers and young lookie-lous. Ads tempting potential customers to "Come see our new Joe Fresh items!" will now become "Come take our new Joe Fresh items!"

And it could mean a resurgence of business for shops that have been struggling with stagnant inventory. "We expect products to fly off the shelves," said Jill Beacon, manager of one of the few remaining Woolworth stores. "In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if they wanted the shelves, too."

New economy shopper Marvin Oaxley had just left the downtown Macy's store with his arms full of packages. He said he'd picked up several new outfits. "Enough for this week, at least," he said. "I can always come back for more."

Oaxley said he's always loved shopping. Now it will be more of a pleasure, since he won't have to worry about red-flagged credit card statements or calls from collection agencies.

"It's about time they stopped asking us to pay for things," he said, admitting he's still bitter about past constraints on his consumerism.

"I mean, there's all this stuff out there. We need it, we want it, we have a right to it," Oaxley said. "Isn't that in the Constitution or something?"

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