I had a crackhead-esque craving for an Orange Julius the other day. Like, gotta have it, spare no expense, must get that damn treat kind of craving usually reserved for Star Trek paraphernalia.

So I headed to the obligatory mall (there are no stand-alone Orange Juliuses in Fort Collins). I walked through the rows of closed shops and aged interiors of a previous age of consumerism.

Orange Julius is a tribute to a past age. Don’t get me wrong – malls can be, and in some places, still are, relevant. But big picture – most malls get it wrong. And Orange Julius is inextricably linked to the aging image of the American shopping mall.

This isn’t the big problem. The big problem facing Orange Julius is complacency. And that complacency allowed them to fuck with a fat kid’s food – and that’s a big problem. (I’m the fat kid, in case you were wondering).

I was “greeted” by a generic teen mall employee who took my order, my cash, and then pulled a strawberry Orange Julius blender container from an ice chest. Instead of making one fresh, on the spot, to-order, she poured the half-melted pre-made Orange Julius and served it up.

I stuck around a bit to see if this happened to any other customers (what few there were) – and discovered it was pretty much the same story across the board until a flavor ran out. Once every six or seven customers, someone would get a 100% fresh Orange Julius. Any other time, the new was blended with the old or only the old was used.


Your only job is this. You exist only to delight your customers. Thats. Fucking. It. How on earth do you delight your customers when you can’t be bothered to do the work? If only one out of six of your customers is delighted, you’re doing something wrong.

Don’t argue the cost savings issue – surely it wastes more money to waste left-over old Orange Julius at the end of the night. And don’t give me the “disconnected low-cost teenage employee” issue either – if the Porn Industry is any indication, the “barely legal” crowd is doing just fine “delighting” customers world-wide.

Let’s parallel this story with two others: Dairy Queen and Berry Blendz.

Dairy Queen also made some headway through the malls back in the day, but they also built an outstanding external presence which serves them well to this day. They don’t make everything fresh (though, can you imagine how amazing that would be? I’d wait 3 hours for that Blizzard) – but they do make everything to-order. There’s no pre-made Blizzards under teenage guard anywhere, ever. I can’t speak for every DQ out there, but they’ve usually always done a great job greeting me and making small talk while they whip up whatever belt-notch-adding-treat I’ve paid for.

Berry Blendz is like the local coffee shop of smoothie stores. It’s like they’re fruit baristas. Everything is made to order and as fresh as possible. There’s no ice chest with pre-blended smoothies. Would that make it faster? Probably. Would it be worth the shorter wait? Have you ever tasted a smoothie past its prime?

This story is not unique to any one industry and it almost always starts with complacency.

What are some businesses you wish would freshen up?

(Header photo: Mallwalking Photo Shoot Rejects by Chip Harlan)