Posts tagged “shave ice”

Signs to Override Human Nature?

We see these in small retail all the time – handwritten signs exhorting the customer to follow some non-natural path of behavior in order to simplify the merchant-centered purchase process. Here’s a fun one, where the experience is pretty cool anyway, and the creativity and ineffectiveness of the signs is something to smile about, rather than grimace.
The setting certainly helps. In the town of Waimea, on Kauai, on your way to getting a sweet and cold treat – shave ice.

The cash register sits underneath the most awesomely diverse and interesting list of flavors. You approach the guy at the cash and of course you want to say how many you want, and what sizes, and (after having gaped open-mouthed at the display for a few minutes) the flavors.

The signs attempt to warn you off from doing that, but it’s human nature. And with each person that tries to ask for a flavor, the cash guy tells them ‘I don’t care about flavors. I just need to know what size you want.”

They are so dogged with their insistence, but they’ve designed an experience where it’s entirely natural to ask for the flavors right then. Nope.

He’ll go and get the plain shave ice (with ice cream, if you want it) and then at another counter they take your flavor order. It may end up being the same guy working the other counter, or someone else. But they don’t care about flavors, until you get to the flavor counter.

It’s not so terrible that they go through the same thing over and over again, it’s just a great example of design and human nature and the ever-present sign which purports to fix the whole thing by simply warning people what not to do!

This sign is posted behind the cashier.
1. How many Shaved would you like (ice)?
2. What are the sizes you would like?
3. Would you like ice cream on the bottom?
4. Would you like our tasty creams on the top of your ice We have Vannilla Cream And also Haupia cream (which is coconut)
5. We do also sale extras so this would be the time to ask for them
Mahalo (thank you)

The cutaway detail of the Halo Halo Shave Ice is pretty neat. Nice combination of 2D and 3D presentation of the details:
Haupia cream topping
Shave Ice
Haupia cream topping
Halo Halo
Ice cream opsional [sic] with Halo Halo

Shave Ice Paradise (or Dystopia)


A uniquely horrible part of our trip to Kauai was stopping here for a shave ice. This place was staffed by a gaggle of poorly trained, incompetent, aggressive, rude teenage girls. They stood behind their window and acted as if the people on the other side were not human, but merely objects. One stood there talking loudly about her social plans for that evening, ignoring the long line. Another complained about the line, and how much work she had. “I hope this fucking line goes away soon! I’m so sick of people!” she yelled to her friends, not 18 inches from the fucking people who were waiting to give her money. Everyone was made to feel as if they were inconveniencing these girls’ lives. One man received his shave ice in a foam cup with a leak; he went back up to return it or get a new cup and they were horrible to him; he shouldn’t expect anything from them since he only spent a few bucks!

This place is in the Hanalei Center on the north side of the island. Do not go there.

We only saw one other shave ice place on the whole island, Jo-Jo’s Shave Ice in Waimea. The experience there was great. This place here sucks.

Hawaii, especially Kauai is a tourist economy; people were appropriately awesome in most places we went to. This place was off the scale in the other direction. Please stay away.


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