Today, as I ran into the Apple Store to try (yet again) to visit a "genius" in the Genius Bar, I passed by a weight loss clinic on a Palo Alto side street. Coming out of the clinic was a rather heavy woman and I found myself thinking "wow, that place sure doesn't work." And then it struck me (along with the fact that my inner voice is a real jerk), weight loss clinics are stuck in a terrible Catch 22. They want to attract excellent customers. And those customers, by and large, will be noticeably overweight. Thus, the weight loss programs are inevitably going to be populated by fat people. After all, that's why they're there. But the constant presence of fat people at the weight loss clinic will inevitably suggest that the program doesn't work -- if it were working, wouldn't the building be full of smiling thin people? (if the multi-billion dollar diet industry teaches us anything it is that "fat and happy" is pretty much just an expression).
This is, of course, ridiculous. Success will breed apparent failure. For every fat person you turn skinny, there will be a dozen fat people ready to line up in hopes that they too can lose the weight. Plus, your best customers will be the ones that no longer need you and move on to greener pastures. Thus a nation full of Atkins lemmings (myself included) is still be a nation of obesity. It's not Atkins fault (although the heart disease certainly is). It is just a statistical reality. No matter how successful any weight loss program, there will always be a greater influx of overweight people than outflux of thin people. Thus, no weight loss program will ever appear to be succeeding.
The same problem undoubtedly holds true of Hair Club For Men and your local toupee shops. Baldies, comb-overs and Ted Koppel will inevitably be noticed coming and going from such fine establishments as The Piece Makers or Wiggin' Out. But folks with really great implants or a natural looking weave will blend right in with the teaming masses of hirsute comers and goers. What's The Rug Gallery to do? More apparent failure -- "good God, I don't want my hair to look like that!" Ditto for tanning beds, prosthetic shops, hair colorists, plastic surgeons and the like. At the end of the day, if the goal of your establishment is to make your customers look like something they aren't, chances are you had better have a discrete back entrance. Because without a multi-million dollar ad budget, Jared isn't a walking billboard, he's just another sub eating nebbish standing in line between a couple of fatsos.