Shop till you drop on Election Day

"We want to try and create a happier atmosphere, including a DJ, to drown the sorrow of these elections."

elections06.article.298 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
When the clock strikes noon on Election Day, Haya Klor-Sichor will open the doors to Bugsy, a restaurant and bar in the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv, and start pouring glasses of absinthe, which she will sell throughout the day at discount prices. "We want to try and create a happier atmosphere, including a DJ, to drown the sorrow of these elections," Klor-Sichor told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Klor-Sichor's bar is among a growing number of businesses - ranging from trendy night spots and designer labels to electric appliance stores and suburban malls - who are seeking to attract consumers and lure them with promises of discounts and freebies on Election Day, which is a national holiday. Klor-Sichor, who said her clientele ranges from "yuppies from north Tel Aviv" to locals from her downtown neighborhood, said that she detected an overall lack of interest in the elections, especially among young people. "People are passive - they just don't feel like voting, and they don't identify with any of the parties or their leaders. I think the voter turnout is going to be very low, which is very sad," she said. Although she will be opening for business early in the day, Klor-Sichor said she hoped the offer of alcohol at discount prices would not prevent voters from casting their ballots. Classica, a home design store with branches in more than a dozen shopping malls throughout the country, will attempt to entice customers with an "Election Day discount" of up to 50 percent off on a range of merchandise. "Election day is a day on which families spend time together in shopping malls," said Classica CEO Meir Asher. "People have the day off, they have time, and it is therefore an especially convenient day to go shopping." The fact that this year's elections are taking place shortly before Pessah, he noted, would further increase sales. Indeed, shopping malls across the country are offering family-related activities to draw shoppers of all ages, ranging from free use of children's facilities to free beauty treatments for adults and various forms of entertainment. At the Givatayim shopping mall, for instance, shoppers will be entertained throughout the day by a marathon of stand-up comedians. "The mall has invested about NIS 300,000 in preparations for this day," said Ronen Hillel, who works for the public relations firm representing the Arim shopping mall in Kfar Saba. Hillel said the mall was expected to be filled with three times as many people as on a regular weekday. "Israelis like shopping, and there is no doubt that everyone profits from a day like this," he said. To tie in the experience of shopping to the theme of elections and ensure that shoppers do not feel they are shirking their civic duty as they swipe their credit cards, some malls will offer special election-themed activities. In Kfar Saba, for instance, the mall will erect a special voting station for teenagers, and exhibit a trio of designer chairs inspired by the country's three leading politicians. Amir Gov, the promoter and producer of the Move bar and club in Tel Aviv, thinks the proliferation of Election Day events reflects a lack of interest among voters. This was the second time, he said, that the club was hosting a party on election night. "As a PR person, there is a certain advantage in having such frequent elections," he noted wryly. At the same time, he referred to what he saw as the failure of politicians to appeal to the sector his club caters to - urban residents in their twenties and thirties. "People are simply disappointed by politics," he said.