HELLO, my name is Rob the Supermarket Gorilla

“How would customers and employees of a supermarket react to a gorilla shopping for gorceries?”

December 10, 2004. 9:36 PM. St. Louis, Missouri. Schnuck’s Grocery Store. Rob dresses up as a gorilla. Matt leads him around the store. Scott documents the experiment.

One or any combination of the following things would happen:

  • The gorilla would get arrested
  • The manger would throw us out of the store
  • Customers and employees would get scared
  • People would run up and say hello to Rob the Gorilla

Fig. 1 – Rob and Matt enter Schnuck’s Grocery to purchase bananas and other gorilla necesities:

Fig. 2 – Rob grabs a shopping cart and makes his way to the produce section.

Fig. 3 – En route to his desired aisle, Rob passes the Internet Cafe.

Fig. 4 – Rob finds what he came for! Del Monte’s finest. Perfectly ripe.

Fig. 5 – Matt and Rob peruse the aisles for tasty beverages. Across the store, customers watch with curious eyes.

Fig. 6 – All this walking is making the gorilla thirsty! It’s time for some Honeybrown, a favorite of most Midwest apes. Speechless customers continue to stare.

NOTE: at this point, Scott the camera man was approached by a manager. She asked him why he was taking pictures. He explained his purpose. She responded with, “Please leave the store.” Scott replied by explaining, “But my gorilla is thirsty! He just wants some beer to drink with his bananas!” The manager became stern and responded with, “Look, tell your monkey to pay for his items and leave. NOW.”

Fig. 7 – Rob the Gorilla is approached by a young mother and her two young children en route to the checkout line. The children laugh joyfully. He is then followed by the same two customers from the beer aisle who stand behind in line.

Fig. 8 – Paper or plastic? Debit or credit? Such difficult decisions a gorilla has to make. Interestingly enough, our elderly cashier did not flinch, laugh, smile or even adjust her demeanor when she saw Rob; although Matt had trouble containing his laughter.

Fig. 9 – Finally, as several customers, an emotionless cashier and a VERY upset manager watched us exit the store, Matt, Rob the Gorilla and I passed through the electronic door as the security camera recorded the successful completion of our experiment.

We were amazed how many people gave NO reaction whatsoever to the gorilla. Especially the cashier. Getting kicked out of the store was in line with our original hypothesis, although the interactions with young children made it all worthwhile!


Think of a time when you broke the silence and did something out of the ordinary – how did people react?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag


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