Annals of commercial verbing: showroom

From Garson O’Toole to ADS-L yesterday, on sightings of showrooming, including a link to the Wikipedia entry, which begins:

Showrooming is the act of examining merchandise in a brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it there, then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item. Online stores often offer lower prices than brick and mortar stores because they do not have the overhead cost. Showrooming can be costly to the retailers, not only in the loss of the sale, but also due to damage caused to the store’s floor samples of a product.

From this evidence, the term seems to be recent: O’Toole’s (and Wikipedia’s) cites are from 2011 and 2012.

And now we have verb forms other than the PRP (in -ing) used as a gerund; the noun showroom has been fully verbed.

O’Toole started with a story (by Roland Jones) from yesterday at “Market Day on”:

Best Buy, other big retailers fighting back against ‘showrooming’

Big box retailers such as Best Buy have suffered from “showrooming,” where customers come into a store to find products they want to buy, but then walk out and purchase them for discounted prices at an online retailer, such as

went on the Wikipedia entry (which seems to have first appeared in January) and added a NYT article (by Julie Bosman) from 12/4/11:

Book Shopping in Stores, Then Buying Online

Bookstore owners everywhere have a lurking suspicion: that the customers who type into their smartphones while browsing in the store, and then leave, are planning to buy the books online later – probably at a steep discount from the bookstores’ archrival,

Now a survey has confirmed that the practice, known among booksellers as showrooming, is not a figment of their imaginations.

Now a few examples with forms other than PRP as gerund. First, PRP as progressive:

The shoppers are showrooming but retailers’ best hope is in helping them (link)

Then PSP in a perfect, PSP in a passive, and BSE (in a marked infinitive):

Have you ‘showroomed’ lately? (link)

Brick and Mortars: Don’t Be Showroomed Out of Business (link)

Target doesn’t want to ‘showroom’ for Amazon. (link)

(All are from 2012.)

Paul McFedries’s Word Spy site has a recent entry for showroom; his earliest cite is the Bosman quote above, and he gives two other, the first of which has the PST form:

According to Codex Group, a book audience research firm in New York, people use their neighborhood stores as a form of literary dressing room: Try it on for size, but buy it elsewhere. It’s a trend that shows no sign of abating, said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of Codex.

Earlier this year, his firm surveyed 5,067 book buyers from around the country about their buying habits and 28 percent said they “showroomed.”
—Rosalind Bentley, “Bookstores losing browsers to Web,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 17, 2011

As the last of what were once more than 500 Borders bookstores disappeared, along with hundreds of independents, Amazon helped to add a new word — “showrooming” — to the fast-evolving digital lexicon. —John Barber, “Amazon’s ‘showrooming’ tactic the latest to enrage booksellers,” The Globe and Mail, December 23, 2011

So: quite recent, but now well established, in all of its inflectional forms.


One Response to “Annals of commercial verbing: showroom

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Just to note — since someone is bound to — that showroom has been verbed in other senses: ‘exhibit in a showroom’ (showroomed the new car models) and ‘make into a showroom’ (showroomed the gallery.

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