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Rounding the corner by the cemetery, my eye was drawn to the monument shop across the street. Never having needed their services, I’ve never paid them much notice. What caught my attention this morning was the smiling, sun-shaped piñata at the counter and the neon sign in the window declaring “Hot Savings on Custom Memorials”.

Seems hellish, don’t you think?

This family business has been making monuments for over a hundred years, and I’m sure they do a great job. Maybe most of their customers are pre-planners who want to choose their monument carving before their moment comes, but I’m fairly certain most of them are still dealing with a painful loss and would rather be anywhere else in the world than in a monument shop.

Roy Williams would call festive décor in a monument store “particle conflict.” It’s when all the pieces don’t match. It can effectively be use d to trick your brain into paying attention, or it can be uselessly tasteless and offensive.

Take a look around your store. Does everything match? You can do this visually, making sure the colors create the mood you want – like using stimulating primary colors in a children’s play area and avoiding yellow, the color of deceit, at the checkout counter. You could spend some time studying the meaning of different colors. It’s really very interesting and you can help Ms. Jones design her home while you’re at it.

But you can also do this conceptually. Do your policies match your message? Do you spout happy talk about going out of your way for Ms. Jones, then stiff her with restocking fees or give bad service in your store?

Is your particle conflict stimulating, like an accent pillow that sets off a room, or are you the kind of store that laughs at a funeral?

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