LONG BEACH, Calif. — Select California Rite Aid stores are cranking Barry Manilow classics on repeat, nonstop in an attempt to deter panhandling and loitering.
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"I thought some older man had died and left a 'Barry's Most Depressing Hits CD' on repeat," neighbor Lisa Master told the Wall Street Journal. "I felt trapped in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone.'"
Stores in Long Beach, San Diego and Hollywood have used the tactic for months in locations where customers had difficulty entering because of aggressive panhandlers.
"We are in the early stages of exploring this approach and have not made any decision about the potential rollout of this to additional stores," a Rite Aid spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.
Some customers have enjoyed hearing the crooner.
"It's one of those beautiful moments," comedian Debra DiGiovanni told the Journal about the time she sang along to "I Write the Songs" as she walked into a store. "I know all the words. When I was in my 20s we might have made fun of him, and now I'm in my 40s, and he's nostalgic. It reminds me of mom and dad in a lovely way."
Rite Aid said it has a deal with a music company to play the tunes. Some of the stores stopped playing them after the initial Wall Street Journal article was published.
"It's not very kind that people don't want to stand around and listen to his music," a publicist for Manilow told the Journal. "It's odd. He wouldn't comment on something like this. I don't think he knows about it."
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