As part of my 99-percenter quiet and probably pointless boycotting of banks and card associations, I have started to pay cash a lot more, and I’ve also been looking at alternate forms of payment. For example, one of the local gas chains issues a card that debits your bank account directly (using ACH). They’ll also give you 7 cents off on gas if you use it (10 cents on Sundays). That takes a few bucks out of the pockets of banks every year, but what’s more interesting is the card I got the other day (pictured above), from Target. This card gives me 5% off every Target purchase. Unlike the gas card, it’s a regular store credit card, so you can carry a balance and pay interest if you want. Every other store charge card I’ve seen is a MasterCard or Visa that can be used in other stores, but this one isn’t–you can only use it at Target. And it’s issued by the “Target National Bank”.
A few years ago, Wal-Mart tried to start the “Wal-Mart National Bank” and were shut down by the big banks and other Wal-Mart haters. Yet here’s Target, quietly running their own bank and issuing their own card at stores where the average family could spend a fair amount of the money they’d otherwise charge on bank credit cards. As far as I can tell, the groups that opposed Wal-Mart haven’t said a thing about Target’s foray into banking.
This is a pattern with Target. They sell the same Chinese crap as Wal-Mart, they’re as anti-union as Wal-Mart, and they’re really no better than Wal-Mart on a number of different measures. But Wal-Mart gets all the hate. My guess is that one reason is that Target is more hip and caters to a more middle-class set of customers, so hating Target would be a bit inconvenient for the haters, who also consider themselves more hip and middle-class. In other words, where would the Wal-Mart haters shop if they couldn’t drive next door to Target? The other reason is that Target, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, is Minnesota nice. They don’t make a big fuss about starting a bank, and they definitely don’t throw down threats about taking over the banking business. Instead, they quietly issue a card that will take millions of dollars out of the pockets of banks, just as they quietly rack up profits doing more-or-less what Wal-Mart does while getting a tiny fraction of the heat.
Nice goes a long way.
I love using my Fastrac card. (It helps that there’s a station literally within a minute of our house). In my experience most store credit cards aren’t “regular Visa/MC” cards. They are run by some bank, but are still specific to the store.
Hey screw you, I’ve hated Target since before it was cool.
@Ron: I guess I should have said that the Target card is the only example I’ve seen of a store credit card not issued by a big bank and/or not a Visa/Mastercard.
So where do Wal-Mart and Target haters shop?
Dayton-Hudson, that’s Target’s parent corporation (unless it’s been spun off). The credit union has been around for some time and has simply expanded. See, for example, the Digital Credit Union, started here in Massachusetts for employees of Digital Equipment Corporation. And then there’s the whole Target Red Card Advantage (or whatever they call it); funnels some small amount of cash to your local public school of choice; at least, here in north central Massachusetts.
Lots of places are anti-union, but I don’t recall seeing anything quite so rabidly anti-union as Walmart coming from Target. And their product mix doesn’t seem to strive for the depths of designed-in poor quality characteristic of too much of Walmart’s offerings.
I have done a couple of gigs for Target & will tell you they are as bad in most ways as Wally. One of the nastiest things was that every Target manager had a quota for jobs to be moved to India. Their bloodless calculation was that the pay was 20% of US workers, they had to hire 3 Indians to get the same amount of work done but that still saved them 40% (they ignored the reality of the additional expense of managing those workers and dealing with a lot of odd decisions made overseas but those costs are hidden to upper management).
Target has a couple of differentiators though. They donate 5% of their profit to local charities. This is a holdover from the Dayton’s day (they were great people who gave 5% of gross sales!). Target also has not raped the rural economy the way Wally has. For those not familiar with their business practices Wal-Mart would open a store near a large rural town, driving out all the local businesses. Then they would open a second store nearby that would destroy another small town even though it was obvious there was not enough business for two Wallys. As soon as the destruction was complete they would close one of the two stores. These are evil people, even compared to Target
I wish I had a Target to hate near me.
Davis X. Machina
This is where credit cards began — with the charge plates that stores like Jordan Marsh and Filenes used to have.
Forward into the past!
Yes, there’s good brand management and bad brand management. Good brand management brings us the Michael Graves tea kettles and persuades us to make a little joke by pronouncing ‘Target’ as ‘Tar-ghay‘.
To make the larger point, when someone says that American workers are lazy, the correct response is that, in fact, American managers are incompetent.
Daytons spun off Target many years ago. D-H itself was gobbled up two or three times & is now part of Macy’s.
They do that local school thing everywhere.
They are more polished but just as ugly about unions. A year or two ago they told one location they would close the store if it voted union. These are not nice people.
Target is nice? Not so much if you are gay. Target has donated large sums of political cash to anti-gay candidates and elected officials that advocate against basic rights and marriage equality. Much of the gay community avoids, if not boycotts, Target for their actions.
At Ikea, if there’s one in your city. There’s also K-Mart, but that’s an exponentially less cool place to shop than even Wal-Mart. Ironically, Wal-Mart is the most popular (and least controversial) among precisely the demographic it supposedly most hurts – working class families. I’m not making the latter observation at all in defense or support of Wal-Mart, but rather to say that so far, the critical attacks against Wal-Mart aren’t growing nearly enough grassroots support to inflict the necessary amount of bite out of them to gain appreciable leverage on them.
To my knowledge, there are no Targets in Arkansas—at least none near to me, so this is based on experience of a few years back. As I recall, the quality and design in Target’s housewares department was heads above anything you would find at Walmart. I never bought clothes at Target, but friends who did said that the quality and design was really good compared to Walmart. I have bought two items of clothing at Walmart in the past few years and they both started falling apart after the first wash. It really is junk.
There are people in my little town who have never crossed the threshold of our local Walmart. I can’t say I’m one of them as it doesn’t make sense to drive 30 miles for certain items. I do shop local, small merchants as much as possible. Those relationships pay off when something goes wrong with a product.
I’m afraid Ikea has its issues too:
Part of every wal-mart contract with suppliers is that their cost goes down every year. This has driven many out of business, others to slave labor and all of them to cheaper material and construction. This is as insane as investors demanding 10% year over year gains from companies & has the same disastrous impact.
I didn’t read your link but remember a while back that they treat their Scandinavian employees very well but he American ones like shit – because the local laws and customs allow it. This is the same for BMW and Toyota. We are gaining the reputation as a great place to build because we accept crap wages & benefits and more easily cowed than European or Japanese workers.
I’m Kola Noscopy and I approved this message.
@nancydarling: There are Targets all over Arkansas; there’s been one within 4 or 5 miles of my house for the past 25 years and they’ve expanded significantly here in the past 5 – 10 years.
I personally haven’t set foot in a Wal-Mart for 15 years now, for a variety of reasons. As for the bank thing, Wal-Mart owns a bank – Arvest – and has owned them for something like 5 or 10 years now.
When I shopped at target, I can’t say I found their quality to be all that much better than walmart. If it had moving parts or ran on electricity, I found that it would die within a year. Now, that might be better than walmart, but its still not good. After the whole directly spending money on republicans thing, I’ve pretty much stopped shopping there.
@nancydarling: Target opened a store in Fayetteville not long before I left town in 2005, but I have no idea how it fared, being so close to the epicenter of all things Wal-Mart.
As to the larger point, a big part of the reason that Wal-Mart gets more hate than Target is because they’re so much bigger, as well as that whole “destroy the local economy” thing mentioned above. And they don’t have good public relations people to spin issues like “we pay our employees so little they qualify for food stamps and Medicaid for their kids,” by which I mean they pay their employees so little they qualify for food stamps and Medicaid for their kids. Target does that too, but Wal-Mart is so big that they get the attention.
@Schlemizel: They also refuse to pay their suppliers on a timely basis. On net 30 accounts, they typically pay in 120 days. In the meantime, if the supplier isn’t put out of business, he’s having to borrow money and pay interest on it to cover payroll and overhead; meanwhile, Wal-Mart is selling his product that they still haven’t paid for and banking the proceeds and interest.
They really are abusive to actual real, living, people in just about any and every way you can dream up.
Shawn in ShowMe
Using mistermix’s criteria, what big discount retailer isn’t a stealth Wal-mart? Being anti-union and selling cheap Chinese crap is the essence of Big Discount Retail.
Hey. It’s always about the lesser of two weevils.
“Paper or plastic, Ma’am?
@gnomedad: Thrift stores-
a practical activity that also serves to integrate American society!
And buy less in the first place!
I don’t understand why it isn’t possible to have a business model that doesn’t screw the average worker or customer.
Shawn in ShowMe
Who’s to say that at a lot of these goods didn’t originate at Wal-mart and Target?
My wife wanted to rent a movie from RedBox, and the only one that had it was the one located in the WalMart near our house. She debated at great length, but finally decided to enter the store long enough to pick up the movie from the RedBox, but was hugely relieved to find out that she can return it to any location, so she doesn’t have to go back.
In other words, it creeps her out to enter the place even when she’s not buying anything.
Target will get some credit for their efforts when the accomplish something like this;
I’m a lifelong resident of Minnesota, currently residing in Minneapolis, and I refuse to shop at Target. I can’t remember the last time I set foot in a Target store, and that is no small feet in the land of Target. It wasn’t always this way. I, like many others, was under the impression that Target was the kinder, gentler, cooler, hipper Walmart (and it didn’t hurt that they are HQ’d in MN). The last straw came when Target gave considerable financial support to the Republican Tom Emmer in the last MN gubernatorial race. For those outside of MN, Tom Emmer makes Scott Walker in WI look like frickin Ghandi. I know it’s not easy in the society we currently live in to avoid these big box retailers. But you have to remember that a good portion of the money you spend at these places is going to support the things we Balloon Juicers abhor.
Shawn in ShowMe
It is, but the American business community doesn’t share the cultural values of the business community in say, Denmark.
That’s capitalism, friend. A feature, not a bug.
@Shawn in ShowMe: Costco. Only some locations are unionized, but they’re definitely not anti-union. And of course, selling mostly food makes it easier not to be dependent on cheap Chinese crap.
I swore off Wal-Mart years ago, but it took a few more to get hip to Target. Their stuff is better looking, and you do get better customer service.
For instance, in my never ending struggle to store stuff in a tiny attic apartment, I got three rollaway storage drawer things from Target. One arrived with a defective wheel.
Their policy was not to send me a replacement wheel. They sent a whole new storage thing. So now I have four of them, and one is shorter and doesn’t move because it has no wheels.
However, the mixer I got from them was beautifully designed and after six or seven uses to whip egg whites the beaters wouldn’t stay in. It had been too long for me to complain; and getting a second crappy product would do no one any good.
Which, to me, sums up why we don’t actually live in a consumer paradise like the Wingnut Overlords seem to think. Yes, it’s a good looking item and it should have made me a happy cook. But it was so marginally constructed that actually using it almost instantly flung it into a state I’d expect from years of daily cookie dough.
And that’s my consumer choices. I can buy cheap crap that doesn’t last and a month or two later I’m buying more of their cheap crap. OR I can save up my pennies and buy something that actually works for a third of a paycheck.
Amanda in the South Bay
I can’t remember the last time I bought clothes at Target-I have this mental image of them being just as crappy as WalMart. For cheap(er-ish) clothes I usually shop at Kohls/Sears/JcPenny.
I’ve heard a lot of stories on the net about Target workers being locked in the store overnight, and overall it being a really unscrupulous company to work for. It definitely has a lot of housewares for middle class folk, but other than that, bleh.
Another entry on the nice/not-nice ledger: Wal-Mart has a history of locating stores where they’ll impact historic sites, and while there’s wrangling going on over preservation codes, a bulldozer will “accidentally” destroy the site and render it moot. As far as I know, Target hasn’t done that.
We’ve never shopped at Wal-Mart, and stopped going to Target after the anti-gay political donations crap.
Well, in my neck of the woods, we have a chain called Jewel/Osco, which is more expensive, but with a better variety. It’s also unionised. I go there more often now, despite the prices, because I figured out that if you want their smaller competitors to compete, you actually have to put MONEY into them.
Another annoying thing about Wal-Mart is their practice of opening stores, operating them for 5 – 10 years, and then abandoning them for a site a few blocks away. Since I moved here to Little Rock 25 years ago, the closest Wal-Mart was originally 2 miles away. Then they moved a couple of miles down the road a couple of years later. 10 years after that they moved 1/4 of a mile from the second store they abandoned, then here in the last couple of years abandoned that store as well to move another mile or two down the road. Apparently this is done to take advantage of depreciation rules, although they’re also known to do it to small towns who make deals with them on tax abatements. Once the abatement expires, they pull up stakes and build right outside the city limits. The costs for doing things this way, of course, end up being offloaded onto everyone else, whether they are employed by or shop at Wal Mart or not.
The other thing that’s happened here is that originally Wal Mart had 3 or 4 stores in town, located in low-to-middle class areas; as they’ve moved their stores, they’ve shut most of them down and now have only two stores, conveniently located in the heart of McMansion land. Whether they did things this way due to a change in business model or to purposely try to wipe out surrounding businesses I don’t know, but the end result is that high-income folks in this town have 2 Wal Marts conveniently located within a mile or two of their homes, while the poor people that Wal Mart always claims to be benefitting with their low prices now live 5 miles, 10 miles, or further from the stores. With gas costing what it does now, anything these people might “save” by shopping at Wal-Mart is now wiped out by the cost of getting to the store. In addition, the new “cater to our higher-income customers” approach means that Wal Mart employees, who pretty much uniformly live in the poor parts of town, now must spend a lot more of their meager wages just to get to and from work.
There’s a lot to hate about these guys, so I’ll stop here.
“…and they definitely don’t throw down threats …, just as they quietly rack up profits doing more-or-less what Wal-Mart does while getting a tiny fraction of the heat”
I think that this matters.
Maybe it shouldn’t make a difference, but the smarmy asshole who gloats about screwing you over is going to earn a lot more hatred then somebody who quietly screws you over
“…where would the Wal-Mart haters shop if they couldn’t drive next door to Target?”
Big part of it too. Department stores are popular with consumers because while local small business may be popular in the abstract, who wants to go to 12 different mom & pop specialty stores when you can do all your shopping in one trip.
And Walmart has driven most of the better (both better quality of product, better corporate citizens) out of business
@Shawn in ShowMe: It doesn’t matter – goods have to be well-made to survive serial ownership and regardless of origin the profits generally stay with the local business owner.
Nice, whether deliberate or typo.
Nordstrom offers a credit card that is not a visa/mastercard and is issued through the Nordstrom National Bank.
@Jeremy: Fat lot of good that did. Now he gets to take calls from people demanding that the Vikings run a 3-4.
Target must be pretty well removed from its roots to give to Emmer rather than someone from the family that started Target in the first place.
@Shawn in ShowMe: Ha! I can see you don’t shop at thrift stores. What you find is Grandma’s blender… still working.
The crap sold now barely makes it out of the box.
Sadly, I am too poor to NOT shop at Target and Walmart for some things. I do try to limit what I get at either place, though. Target is great for home products like shower curtains and such. The quality and style is head and shoulders above Walmart’s. But nobody beats the prices at Walmart for cleaning and paper products. I never buy groceries at either. I have big concerns about the quality and freshness of the dairy, meat and produce at such large retailers. I get my groceries at the regional chain, Giant Eagle where I can shop at their Market District store and get gas discounts for doing it. Just filled my car up and got $1.80 off simply for buying groceries. As far as clothing goes, I shop eBay and local consignment shops. I’m very picky and have an oddly adolescent body type (at least hipwise) with very long legs. Only certain manufacturers fit me off the rack. Banana Republic is my go-to clothing but I can’t afford to shop their stores, so I get on eBay or the higher end consignment store in Robinson Township and get them for a quarter of what I’d pay retail. As a very much no-rich person, it takes a lot of time and energy to shop, which is why I detest it so much.
Shawn in ShowMe
I appreciate the mentions of Costco and Jewel/Osco but I see these outfits primarily as alternatives to Walgreens, not to Big Discount Retailers. If a working class family wants to buy clothing, without foraging through various thrift stores, where can they go?
@Shawn in ShowMe: Costco
I’ll agree with the consensus opinion that Target is the lesser of the two evils. For one thing, the Chinese crap they sell (and where else are you going to get this stuff once Wal-Mart has already fucked up everything – try finding a coffee machine that’s NOT made in China) is generally of better quality, like the last toaster I bought. I went to Wal-Mart and all their toasters were flimsy crap that would end up in the landfill within a year. The one I bought at Target is nicer-looking, sturdier, and still on my kitchen counter after something like five years.
And the 5% discount for store cards means it’s probably worth getting one. Lowes also has one, and since I leave considerable cash at Lowes, I use my blue card there religiously.
OT: NYT is fluffing the rich again. Must be a day that ends in ‘y’.
I’ve worked for Target Corp, at a Marshall Field’s. Personal anecdotal experience: they were a great employer with happy employees.
Another anecdotal experience. My sister is a Target hourly store employee. In June her husband died and she decided to move from UT back to MI. Target gave her all the time off she needed and found her a position at the store closest to her chosen MI home so she could move across the country and keep her job. They didn’t need to do that and only a small minority of retailers would.
No, they’re not perfect, but they’re not Wal-Mart either.
My mother-in-law, who is visiting me from Fayetteville, assures me that the Target in her area is doing just fine.
I try to do the majority of my shopping at Costco. However, if given a choice between Target and Walmart, I’ll choose Target. I like to dye my hair, and when I go to Walmart, invariably, the boxes of hairdye have all been opened and crushed, and parts of the kits are missing. I also like to try different colors, and Walmart only sells about three blonde shades per line, while they stock at least twenty brunette shades per line. Target’s merchandise is always in better condition, even when they stock the same product, and the stores are cleaner.
However, Costco blows them both away.
I’m no fan of Wal-Mart – but they’ve got this going for them, which target doesn’t seem to:
They hire ex-cons and other people I’m sure target wouldn’t touch. They even offer a bit of on-the-job life-skills training.
Don’t get me wrong. They’re still bastards. There is that.
Shawn in ShowMe
@Amanda in the South Bay:
All three of those places are anti-union and sell “cheap Chinese crap”.
Nordstrom is the weirdo here. They do not accept Visa/MC the last time I checked. They’ll take cash, checks or their own CC. I dunno what their issue is but it’s gotta be major to thumb their nose at Visa/MC.
Americans have been trained for at least two generations to always look for the discount and never pay retail, except for Apple products. Hence, our love affair with the Big Boxes.
@WereBear: Or, just as often, you find no blender at all. There is a lot to be said for a reliable inventory.
Thanks for the replies.
Recently “discovered” Kohl’s and will return.
Jewel / Osco, check.
I now await posts about how these all are just as bad.
@RossInDetroit: It probably has to do with the fees imposed by MC/Visa.
I said I would stop, but here’s another way Target is head and shoulders above Wal-Mart – they don’t discriminate against women and minorities in promoting people like Wal-Mart does (and has been sued, on several occasions, in big class-action suits, for doing).
Then there’s just the whole aura of the stores themselves. One of the reasons I stopped going to Wal Mart years ago is that the stores are fucking depressing. They’re like big warehouses piled to the ceiling with cheap crap. The stores are so crammed full of crap and people that it’s very claustrophobic to be in one of them. Compare to Target, where most of the shelves are about 6 feet high…it gives a whole different feeling to the store.
Shawn in ShowMe
@Shawn in ShowMe:
Sorry, got a braincramp on Costco.
Follow-up question: Are there any other membership warehouse clubs that people have found to their liking?
@Shawn in ShowMe:
I’m very lucky on the second-hand front. There is a place not that far from me out in the rich suburb that takes consignments. I buy very expensive cloths that (usually but not always) be used then dry cleaned. Top quality shirts are $12-18 and, if they have been on the rack more than 90 days half that! Obviously selection is not great but I’m not a cloths horse and I end up looking like I spent a fortune.
Target is clean, quiet and offers a more aesthetically pleasing shopping experience. Sure, it’s the lesser of two evils, but wal-mart is a zoo by comparison.
@Kirbster: I must of missed the training sessions. Probably because I don’t watch teh TV.
I shop big box if I must – but around here it’s only if my local store doesn’t carry what I need. And I really don’t pay much more for anything. If I need to buy a big ticket item, I do so online – although ZOMG that means using a card with some sort of CC logo on it.
Sadly, if I do big box, it’s generally wal-mart – it’s more a factor of what’s available to me – which is not much. Wal-Mart is sort of our all-purpose store here. If the local computer shop doesn’t have something, I have to go there, for example. Well, I could go to best buy, but they are con-artists, and will never see my money.
And I won’t touch target, because it’s in the next town over, and also, at least as evil as walmart – maybe just not AS TALENTED at being evil as walmart – not for lack of trying though. they just suck. even at being bad.
@Shawn in ShowMe:
I buy clothes all the time at Costco. All socks and underwear for both me and my husband, almost all of his pants and shirts, many of the baby’s clothes, and a not-insignificant amount of my jackets and shirts. Casual clothes not bought at Costco are often bought at Old Navy or H&M. However, none of the stores we’ve mentioned sell affordable clothes that would be appropriate in the office I work in. I end up looking for sales at The Limited and White House Black Market, with varying levels of success. It seems like there’s still a huge hole in the market for women’s office clothes at a reasonable price.
@MattF: We refer to it as tar-zhay here in Frenchie Day-twa (Detroit).
When I worked at UFCW, the official explanation for targeting Wal-Mart and not Target is that Wal-Mart was the big dog. Their practices set the standard for the big box industry. Forcing them to change their practices would have ripple effects industry wide.
That’s the official reasoning, anyway. Given limited union resources (and the fact that most purchases on union-sponsored credit unions go to Wal-Mart), I can’t blame them for focusing their ire and education on Wal-Mart.
I live in a town that’s big enough to have non-big-box stores for most things I need, but I know that this isn’t the case everywhere in the U.S.
Shawn in ShowMe
I occasionally shop at thrift stores. I’m 6’4 with a 32 inch waist so shopping at thrift stores for clothes is usually a nightmare.
@WereBear: In other words, you have up your pennies to by something made in Europe. American and Candian manufactured goods were reliable, too, up until the off-shoring happened.
I’m surprised no one has used this as a reason for not shopping at Walmart yet:
I tried to quit shopping at Target when I found out they’d given money to Emmer, but they’re just too convenient.
And we used to drink zho-BEL* beer!
ebay is a great alternative for clothes. Lots of stuff that’s brand-new at 1/2 – 2/3 off original retail prices. Of course you have to have an idea of what size fits you in each brand and do some looking, but it’s worth it. Generally you can buy much better-made clothing on ebay for less than what you would pay for the cheap crap at Wal Mart.
Maybe I’m just terribly lucky in where I live (Arlington, Virginia), but I can’t fathom why it would be hard to skip both Wal-Mart & Target. Haven’t set foot inside a local Wal-Mart in 10 years (I did stop at one in Nova Scotia for motor oil, a few years back), and the only Target purchase I’ve made in years was some coloring books and playdough for a visiting kid. And I suppose I could have found those elsewhere, if I’d wanted to look.
It’s pretty easy to take care of most of my shopping close to home. In fact, aside from the grocery stores, most of my local shopping is at locally-owned businesses. I don’t think it costs much more than a big-box-based consumer life, and it’s certainly less aggravating.
@RossinDetroit – Nordstrom certainly does take Visa.
Shawn in ShowMe
Neither does Costco.
@Benjamin Franklin: THANK YOU for that link. Added to my classes on the New Deal
@Cheap Jim: True! I’m simply commenting on the state of manufacturing.
One of the reasons I don’t shop at Wal-Mart is that name brands are downgraded to clear Wal-Mart’s “price target.” I can call my locally owned Ace Hardware, have them order a Black and Decker appliance, and what shows up for me to buy is higher quality than the cheaper version at Wal-Mart.
I enjoy the “treasure hunt” of clothing for local thrift shops three or four times a year. I also online shop, off season, at places like Cabella’s. But this only helps if I don’t have immediate needs.
As geg6 pointed out, “shopping frugally” is just another chore if we don’t enjoy the process.
And they hate Gays that’s enough for this old white straight guy to not shop there.
@Shawn in ShowMe:
But do except in Calli debit cards from your bank.
Well, then that’s a change since I worked at that mall. For a long time they didn’t.
At the local mall I worked at Marshall Field’s and at Saks. There’s also a Nordstrom and a Neiman Marcus. All four push hard to get you to use the house credit card. This is to keep the interest on carried balances in house and to build a customer relationship. At Saks we had job performance metrics that included how many accounts we opened.
@nancydarling: The Walton and Dillard families control Arkansas retail. Macy’s can’t get a foothold there because of the Dillard family.
@geg6: Until ebay installs fitting rooms, I won’t buy clothes there.
For basics I shop local. For jeans, tees pants, shirts, etc, it’s Panache or one of the other boutique shops on capitol hill in seattle. I’m on all the mailing lists, and snobs that they are, they clear their stock at least once a month, so 50% off (sometimes more) on designer gear all the time, often US made (in seattle or LA) and sold by a retailer local to seattle at least. (although the people that run it are cutthroat, they are local cutthroats!)
How young are you? Every major department store used to have charge cards that could only be used at that store and that weren’t MasterCard or Visa. My mother had a bunch of them.
Target certainly has some practices I object to, but this is not equivalent to what Wal-Mart was trying to do. Despite claiming that there’s a bank, the general public can’t use Target for regular banking functions. So it is not the same.
It’s precisely because of this downgrading that the then-owner of Snapper said no to Wal-Mart’s offer to continue the agreement to sell Snapper mowers that Wal-Mart had made with the previous owner.
Shawn in ShowMe
You’re terribly lucky. I mean Tim Tebow before yesterday’s game lucky.
Costco & EBay. EBay is great for better clothes/shoes/etc, I prefer to buy better stdf used than crap new, plus I’m supporting recycling and the USPS (generally). Not to say there aren’t problems and pitfalls, but it’s the way I prefer.
I find Wal-Marts unpossible to shop. Layout is sheer chaos, which somehow complements the clientele. Lighting is shitty and they seem dirty and loud. We’ve become infested with CVS pharmacies and they seem like mini-Wal-Marts.
Targets are uniformly clean and much easier to navigate, although the recent addition of big food sections clutter them up some.
Frankly, the less time I spend in stores, the better.
The #1 thing that drives my retail choices is the return policy. There’s a little hardware store in my neighborhood – overpriced as hell, but ok in a pinch. I must have been in there 50 times and then I finally needed to return some $3.99 doorstop. One of the owners refused to refund it because I had lost my receipt. FFS, it was $3.99, it was unopened, and it had their store’s price tag on it. Her husband must have recognized me because he said “Of course we can take it back.”
Home Depot and Lowe’s have the best return policies – bring something back even after five years and even if it’s smashed and they’ll still give you store credit. Target is good, but not great. And they track everything through my credit card so I never need to have receipts.
Walmart of course sucks on returns. Ikea is pretty poor too.
If I’m faced with a choice of putting money into a corporation run by assholes or a small business run by assholes, I’m going to choose the one that lets me bring back broken or unused shit.
Not too fond of Target but they are definitely better than Walmart.
@suzanne: Have you tried Marshalls or TJ Maxx? At Talbots half yearly sales you can get great deals for work clothes. Also Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft.
All true, and I have reduced my business with Target significantly.
To me — and this is an admission that I am susceptible to crass efforts at brand positioning — Walmart is offensive in many ways, but none so obviously as in how it glorifies bad taste; I feel bad when I walk into the place. Target, on the other hand, appears not to presume that shoppers looking for a bargain are willing to settle for ugly or poorly designed merchandise as a part of that compromise.
That said, both are appalling in their anti-labor and anti-competitive practices. Thus, I rarely buy from either store. I’m lucky to live in a large metro area, thus, I have many locally-owned options. And that brings me to another point about Walmart: They’re far more predatory when it comes to choosing store locations. They have destroyed locally-owned commerce in the small town I grew up in, as well as many others.
Comparing Walmart and Target is like arguing that Doug Piranha was nicer than Dinsdale Piranha. But on related matters, Walmart, presently occupies the pinnacle of anti-competitive capitalism — but not for lack of effort by Target to wrest that top spot…
@Joe Buck: As far as dept store credit cards, I thought the same thing. Every department store has had one – and NO – they do not have general credit card logos on them – they are store specific.
Regarding clothes on eBay. I bought a pair of Levis at Target and they were too short. Bought the right size off eBay and they were delivered in 3 days.
If you know what you’re looking for it’s cheap and easy.
MB, I’d be happy to shop at local shops, but there generally aren’t ant close by and those that are, are inconveniently far to get to in order to pick up a toll of toilet paper or gallon of milk after work. I’ll drive the 10 or so miles to Sewickley to hit the cute jewelry store or indie bookstore, but there are no stand alone grocery stores here. And I simply cannot afford to shop at Penneys or Macys for home items. If I’m willing to drive a way, I’ll go to Tuesday Morning and, for some clothes, Ross Dress for Less, but sometimes the big box stores are the only convenient and cost effective places for large numbers of us to go.
Ikea’s cheap stuff is quite cheap and flimsy, like Walmart. Their nice stuff is not as pricy as the department stores though.
@RossInDetroit: I’m sure if you are more less configured like an “average” human, that probably works fine. Some of us have a really tough time finding sizes.
In fact, there’s only one brand of jeans that I can find that are consistently well fitting (it’s the way they cut them I think) – they’re called johnny’s (or johnny max) and I sure as hell am unlikely to find a pair on ebay. Even if I do, I doubt it would be any kind of selection
The more you spend the better the return policy is. At Saks we would take back a bottle of cologne because the customer said it didn’t smell as nice as the last one. Or undershirts (worn) because they weren’t sufficiently luxurious. Or shoes. Luggage, you name it.
In some senses you get what you (over)pay for.
@geg6: I love Ross’s for shoes! Unfortunately there is Ross’s here in MA.
@WereBear: I pretty much hate ALL shopping, which helps keep me out of stores most of the time. My goal for the past 10 years has been to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more of it. I also imposed a rule on myself when I was in my early 30’s – nothing durable like furniture could even come into the house unless it was what I wanted to keep forever. I figured that otherwise I’d be living in the equivalent of a dorm room my entire life. So when I needed an end table, I’d re-purpose something I already had or that someone gave me and use it while I saved my pennies to buy the one I really wanted to keep. The other buying rule I imposed on myself quite a few years ago was “can I live without it?” If the answer is “yes”, that usually means it’s a want rather than a real need, and 95% of the time I’ll skip buying it (books are the exception to this rule because I really can’t live happily without them and refuse to submit to the tyranny of waiting lists at the local public library).
When I think about it, there’s really just not much reason at all for me to go to a Wal Mart OR a Target; with it being just me here it makes more sense to pick up shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. at the grocery store rather than make a separate trip to another store…plus when you figure in the time it takes to get to the other store and the gallon of gas you burn getting there, you really aren’t saving any money anyway.
@RossInDetroit: I hate Saks with a passion. Last time I was in there I just wanted to punch everyone in the face, and leave. I think I’d rather shop at walmart and trade the pretension and douchebaggery for failure and broke-ass-white-trash.
The closest department store is an hour away, and it’s a J C Penney, and their buyer is eating waaaaaaay too many mushrooms, judging from the huge patterns that are on every item of women’s clothing in the place.
Next up, 2 1/2 hours south by Interstate.
So I shop online, but a lot of local people can’t do that. They don’t have a computer, much less internet access. Sure, they could go to the library, but they don’t know when it’s safe to use their credit card online, IF they have a credit card, so they don’t.
What they do is go to Wal-Mart, and I can’t even blame them. If I was still raising young children, I’d buy cheap shoes made of oat fiber and jackets lined with chopped newspaper, because a six year old is going to outgrow it in six months anyway; it’s throwing money away to buy children decent quality. Nothing makes it to the thrift shop because most people are too poor to buy good children’s clothes.
And by the way, if you have. Ross Dress for Less nearby, I highly recommend them. Always get great deals there, especially on shoes.
@Jennifer: Walmart tried to pull this in Ocean County, NJ — abandon an existing [sub-100k sf] store to open a W-M Supercenter less than two miles away. Quick-thinking locals had the land chosen by Walmart declared a wilderness preserve, because it was the habitat for an endangered snake. W-M renovated the store, but I am sure that it has not abandoned its plans for the other site…
It’s awesome if you’re rich. They do have great stuff. When I was a customer I always felt like the staff in some departments was judging me and finding me wanting. After 2.5 years of working there I found myself doing that. Turning into a douchebag snob because I worked for a high end store. That’s when I left.
But there’s a place for high end retail. They really do take care of you if you have lots of money and no time to screw around with shopping.
ETA: I avoid Wal-Mart like bird flu. Just so depressing. That place makes me feel like a pathetic serf.
@Jennifer: Your first several sentences.
EXACTLY. x2. yeah.
I like to shop, but OTOH I don’t like accumulating stuff, so it’s a once in awhile thing.
And I’ve lectured my mother about giving my wife and I dishes all the damned time (anyone need any dishes? =) )
@geg6: Ross is teh awesome.
To this day, my favorite pair of slacks is a pair I picked up at Ross. They fit me better than anything I’ve found.
@RossInDetroit: The truly rich don’t need Saks for that – they have serfs to do their shopping for them. Saks is full of the wannabe rich – which in my experience is worse than the actual rich, because you get to add class-envy to the standard list of character flaws.
@RossInDetroit: Our local Walmart is pretty sad too. I actually remember a time when Walmart was not so bad. We didn’t have a Target that’s the only place you could go to buy shampoo, dishwashing liquid etc. This was more than 10 years ago though. Has Walmart gotten worse over the years. I too now avoid it like the plague.
I formulated the same rule. Otherwise you spend the money that could be going to a real item to an endless series of cardboard replicas.
Every 2-3 years we have to upgrade a computer item for me or Mr. WereBear. We buy digital books and music or the used actual item. Every so often we will blow double digits on clothes.
And that’s about it. Everything else is medical expenses. What’s left over is rent and groceries and cat food.
Edit: Mind you, this isn’t even a complaint. I have a great husband and wonderful friends and if you live a “life of the mind” this is the best time in history to indulge those Little Gray Cells. I live in a place people pay major coin to come and see and my little ol’ cat blog just keeps growing, so I feel like I contribute to the rest of the world.
All else is commentary. :)
In a way, walmart gets back at the banks: Walmart has a much larger portion of customers that are unbanked; that is, for whatever reason, many Walmart customers only pay cash because they are too poor, they aren’t here legally, they are here legally but don’t trust banks . . . so WalMart has already taken advantage of that. They cash payroll checks for a flat fee, and the customer can either put the money on a debit card or just take the cash, and while they’re in the store,why not pick up some groceries and maybe some shoes for little Timmy and a socket set? If they reinstated lay-away for the whole year instead of the holidays, they would do even better.
I have worked for both Target and Walmart, and I’ll take Walmart any day. The company is flatter, they really mean it with their open door policy, and they’re more diverse.
5’10”, 150lbs. It helps to be a few inches narrower than average. When stuff goes on sale at the end of the season, my waist size is likely to still be on the rack while all of the 36 – 40 waists are gone.
Back to Target. All Big Retail operations have a common characteristic: labor is a high cost and they try to drive it down. This can suck if you are that labor. But there are better and worse ways to treat your people and my personal and family experience is that Target should get credit for being somewhat enlightened in their treatment of employees.
@gaz: I know, right? Like the women who stand behind makeup counters at Dillard’s. I’m thinking, “you’re a snotty bitch because some makeup company gives you a white jacket to wear while you stand on your feet all day making minimum wage?” You find this in a lot of restaurants too. It’s almost as if the employees think they have a responsibility to their masters to communicate the masters’ disregard and disdain for everyone who isn’t one of the masters.
That’d be $2 – reasonable, except they also require you to enter your SSN. So the immigrants around here get their checks cashed on fridays at the taco vans. Yes. Really.
I do get stuff at Ann Taylor and Loft when I can get a good sale or coupons. I have a hard time at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I do look, though.
Here’s my big complaint with cheaper clothes: I have a small waist relative to the rest of me, and every pair of pants I seem to find pretty much everywhere these days wants to be low-rise and therefore show off egregious amounts of my asscrack. I know it takes more and better tailoring to make pants come in at the waist, and I don’t want friggin’ mom jeans, but nor do I want to show everyone my vertical smile.
Target is by no means a great corporation, but as far as retail goes, they’re probably as good as it gets. I have a relative who works for them (on the floor, so not management) and she gets treated pretty well. A living wage, benefits, humane treatment. It’s a lot better than what I hear coming from Wal-Mart’s corners.
Look, I’m not saying anyone should overlook Target’s problems. But we live in America, and there’s a very low baseline standard for how retail employees are treated. It’s no better at the mom and pop joints, either. Unions can’t necessarily solve these problems because they are difficult to organize and require sacrifices from their members, especially in the beginning. It’s awfully hard to ask a retail employee with benefits to take a hit to his or her paycheck and benefits for the greater good. This is why the government is needed to instill things like ACA and higher minimum wages.
Hopefully one of the peer to peer electronic payment systems out there takes off so we can eliminated most of the transaction fees with banks.
The idea is that there are only 2 times you have to do a transaction with an actual bank. When you convert to and from the electronic money. Once it’s converted the transactions between venders and customers are free.
Think about it. Right now when people buy and sell services there are transaction fees every single time. Sometimes hidden but someone somewhere somehow pays something everytime a transaction takes place. If people bought and sold only using electronic currency you eliminate the middlemen and their transaction fees.
Only time you deal with them is when you convert back and forth between electronic currency and real money. Spread out over multiple vendors buying and selling with each other that can add up to a lot of transaction fees that could be eliminated.
There are a few systems like this out there but so far none have really taken off.
I put up with that shit at little boutiques I go to – but the snobbery is often displaced by the general hawtness of the people of that tend to shop there. hey. fringe bennies, right. so whenever someone decides to be a douche I just ignore their lip flapping, and look at the nearest hot ass I see. heh. I’m such a pig.
This is true. Lots of the lookers are aspirational. Or showing off.
Some of my best customers were people I rarely met. I’d get a call that someone had gotten mustard on ‘that blue shirt’ and I’d have to look it up and FedEx him another one.
Or the guy who needed 20 Vegan neckties (no silk or wool content).
High end stores get that done for you.
Another thing about actual shopping: it’s leaving. Twenty, thirty, years, it won’t exist except at the real high end.
The expenses involved in acquiring a big building and heating and cooling it and filling it with warm bodies and trucking stuff in and out of it; that’s all lost costs.
They’re going to do away with all that crap. Another Kreskin flash: by that point, they aren’t even going to make it unless you’ve already bought it.
@suzanne: One thing I did appreciate about Nordstom was the in-store tailoring and alteration services they provided. Very reasonably priced.
Shawn in ShowMe
So how will us serfs with non-standard bodies know if the clothes fit?
@RossInDetroit: Roughly the same frame here, but taller. Too tall for medium t-shirts, typically, and I’ve never been able to find clothes at the traditional locations. I’ve taken to buying my stuff from American Apparel, which is great on two fronts, of course. I’m fortunate that I don’t need to dress formally or semi-formally at work.
Cripes! What’s up with that? There’s about .075% of the female population that going to look good with a bare midriff, and the rest of us have to suffer? I can do business casual but that doesn’t mean when I crawl under someone’s desk to do IT I want Plumber’s Behind.
@RossInDetroit: Doesn’t surprise me at all.
Also, too: If a dumpy unassuming guy comes in to your store – he’s the one you want to wait on. The guy probably has Fuck-You money. =P. The rich I’ve met go out of their way not to appear rich. Probably, they dislike appearing that way, I imagine because if they did it’d be like having MARK scrawled across their forehead in sharpie. They also tend to drive 20 year old cars. Just an observation. I really have no idea why that is for certain.
Tell me about it. I have a 14.5″ neck and 35″ sleeve. Hudson’s used to stock that size in their Woodward brand but they’re long gone.
Often you can order sizes online from big retailers that they don’t stock in the stores. They shelve a typical range of dimensions and warehouse the oddball stuff so it’s still available.
@WereBear: Wow. Business Casual means something wholly different in your neck of the woods!
Thanks for the lulz.
Edit: Oh – I read IT – as *it*
@Shawn in ShowMe: You’ll put your measurements into the Big Computer because they aren’t going to mass produce; why make 40,000 pairs of jeans that aren’t going to sell right away? Just to discount them eight times to get them off the floor.
It’s about resource costs. It’s already killed dead tree books.
Costco employees always seem to be in a pretty good mood. Not phony, forced-niceness stuff, just people working their way through the day and not hating their jobs. Costco’s CEO said in an interview a few years ago that the company had responsibilities not just to shareholders, but to employees and customers as well.
Their low-to-middle priced Kirkland brand is decent/fairly good quality across the board. (Except for the coffee. Bleh.)
@gaz: According to Fawlty Towers: “Only the rich would have tat like that!”
It’s actually an ostentatious way of saying, “I don’t have to impress anybody. Prole.”
Turns out Fawlty Towers is far more class conscious that I ever dreamed. There’s tons of clues in each episode.
@WereBear: I actually have no problem with that attitude, and even kind of respect it.
@WereBear: It’s freaking ridiculous. I honestly think cheapness is what’s really driving the persistence of the low-rise trend. I can’t find mid-rise pants for under $50. And the company I work for is pretty conservative in their dress code. I don’t think I’ve seen my boss in anything more casual than shirtsleeves and a tie. Even on Fridays. So I’m always checking out the websites for sales.
Another cheap clothes complaint: when the fly zippers on pants are so poorly made/sewn in that the zipper won’t stay closed. I have a pair of jeans that I like but can’t wear.
@suzanne: would you call up and get me a football thread please?
@gaz: I’m fine with people dressing any way they’d like, as long as it doesn’t scare the horses.
A note on Target: they have the cheapest nicotine gum. 220 pcs 4mg for $36. Goes on sale, too. That keeps me coming through the door.
Personal note on Target: The local one has perfect floors. I spend a lot of time at work maintaining waxed tile floors and I can tell when someone has put a lot of labor into keeping them clean and shiny. If the floors are nice the rest of the place is probably pretty clean as well. I notice stuff like this because if a store lets the floors go to hell chances are that’s not all they’re skimping on.
suzanne, I have the exact opposite problem. I am extremely short waisted with very long legs. If pants or jeans aren’t low rise, the waist hits me just under the boobs and I look like some sort of freak whose body moves straight from the boobs to the legs. Low rise hit me exactly where my waistline is. Mid-rise or higher are out of the question. That’s why I generally only buy Banana Republic. They are made for people like me, especially if I can gets long inseams.
Mistermix, If you are around would you please put up an open thread. Nice start for Houston but I still don’t expect them to win.
@JPL: suzanne will get that
@suzanne: From what I’ve observed, a man can own three suits, wear them a couple of times a week, and change up the tie to be perfectly respectable.
While women can’t let something be in the rotation quicker than once a week, they are supposed to spend money on hosiery that runs while it’s being put on, and dawg forbid they don’t accessorize.
Not even mentioning the makeup…
WHAT?? THE?? FUCK!!
@WereBear: I’m generally more concerned about this kind of thing than my wife. In the rare cases where she feels she must don makeup or otherwise be “extra formal” she tends to enlist my help. heh.
I have to be careful not to overdress when we go out, or it makes her look like a “fag-hag” – (and sorry if the term is offensive to some, if there was a PC term for it I’d use it out of courtesy).
A woman friend told me that anything bought from a place called Tar-zhay counts as couture.
Not so Wal-mart.
@Raven: What’s with you and suzanne lately?
I think part of it has to do with the beginnings of both corps. Until Target was spun off from Dayton-Hudson corp almost a decade ago, they were very closely associated with Dayton-Hudson, as in Mark Dayton, the very liberal former senator and current gov of MN. They’ve always been associated with questionable credit card/banking services (HSBC), but since they used a third-party vendor up til recently, I think they were able to distance themselves a bit. They also had the presumed goodwill of the public because Dayton-Hudson was a well-regarded outfit in the midwest.
I don’t think most people realize that Dayton-Hudson is essentially defunct, with all the parts and pieces sold off to the highest bidders. Target went to an extreme rightwing venture capital group called Target Brands, although it is nearly impossible to get much info about them and most references on the Internet still indicate that Target Brands is a Dayton-Hudson subsidiary (it’s not). People were stunned when Target made huge contributions to Mark Dayton’s homophobic, fundamentalist challenger for the governors seat because they were unaware of the change in ownership. Clearly, the new group has no loyalty to the Dayton-Hudson brand or Target’s origins at all.
Go Ravens! Texans are too bright it seems.
Go Ravens! Texans are too bright it seems.
Ikea has a bad reputation for anti union and poor wages… Its a ruthless competitor using lower priced workers in asian countries — no longer employing the original swedish workers..
I don’t know what the answer is. People look for things they can afford and Walmart, Target, K-Mart or whatever, supply those goods. Part of the reason that they can is precisely because they screw their workers, pay them lower wages and provide goods build in countries where they can pay workers less. Solution? Don’t buy there. But the buy where alternative is usually not much better …
Question: If you are a well meaning store developer, how do you provide goods at a cheaper price while paying employees well and giving them good benefits?
@WaterGirl: I don’t even know who she is. She just decided to chime in about not liking football so I thought I’d demonstrate how to be a real pain in the ass.
This is why it’s nearly impossible to pick sides in the consumer game. My view is, all the chains are a little bit evil. If you really want to be a pure consumer, shop at the Goodwill or yard sales. Take out the middle man. Reuse, recycle.
Target has in the past been praised by progressives because they stood up to the American Family Assn. over some issue — maybe it was what kind of birth control they’d sell in their pharmacy or sponsoring a gay pride event. I can’t even remember now. But it was a big deal a few years ago. We were all told to shop at Target to show our support because they got one thing right.
And then last year we were all supposed to boycott Target over something. Contributions to Michele Bachmann by their CEO or maybe it was the governor’s race. Hell I don’t even know. Something to do with Minnesota, cuz that’s where they’re based. Meanwhile, one of the fundiegelical groups was also telling its people to boycott over some liberal thing they did. I thought, Christ almighty, when both right and left are boycotting a company for completely different reasons, boycotts have lots all usefulness.
I’m so over it. I have my own personal boycotts but I’m not going to tell someone else what to do because nine times out of 10 you’re ending up shooting yourself in the foot.
@WereBear: Both Talbot’s and LL Bean’s have brought back medium and high (waist-level) pants, partly bc their customers sent in a few choice words, I bet…
Both have high initial prices and really deep discounts at season ends. Especially around now, I think…
For the whole family, in addition to the Bean’s sale items, I’d try Land’s End, too. Haven’t looked for kids’ stuff at SierraTradingPost.com, but they have lots of discounted (overstock) professional wear for men and women. (easier to deal with than Overstock.com too, in my exp.)
I’d rather buy something that will last at least 5 years and buy fewer of that thing (e.g. chinos, etc) than have to set foot in a Mall Wart or what have you. Target (tar-zhay) is what got me through grad school as far as clothes and those rolling plastic drawer thingies, though! Fair Indigo is trying to bring up labor standards for (mostly women’s) clothing, and I am on my 3rd year of use of the work blouses I got from them. Selection is kinda limited and kinda oriented to gals younger and cuter than myself. Whatever.
Oh, fuck it. I just posted a long comment about this and it’s in the fucking moderation queue and I have NO clue what the bad word was I used.
@Southern Beale: the mod purgatory seems fairly swift today – I just got modded for a non-PC term and it didn’t stay that way for long.
@Southern Beale: This what?
This is what what?
The other point I want to add is that our economy is built on consumerism. We are no longer the big producer of things. We are purchasers of things and that is what makes us hum right now. Saying we aren’t going to buy shit anymore is good as general principle, but ignores that reality that basically drives how we stay afloat economically. If we are to stop that and still hum along, we will have to replace the consumer centric economy with something else. Whatever that “else” is,I can’t say and no one else can just yet either. Right now, we are trying to figure out who we can stick those zillion dollar losses from 2007/2008. Its clear that the village thinks it should be the middle class and the poor — the same ones who prop up the economy with their purchases at Wal-Mart, etc.
Yes, we are fucked and there is no easy solution in my opinion.
Death to high waisted jeans!!
hey FP’ers – make an NFL thread – the footballers are gonna overrun the rest of us!
HIgh-waisted jeans are the only thing holding my gut in.
Check http://www.freecycle.org/ for a group in your community. We have a very active group in my area. I haven’t acquired anything this way yet, but I have offered and gotten rid of stuff that I don’t need anymore. Like thrift stores, not something dependable for stuff you need and need now…but another option that could possibly divert money from the big box stores.
I think this is right and quite the double standard. But there is another side to it. Yes women are more criticized for their wardrobe choices, but then they get those choices, too. I can rotate the same suit more frequently, but then the range of acceptable business attire for me is far more narrow. A suit outside of the black/dark blue binary will invite ridicule and judgement. The most individuality I can get away with is a splashy or unique tie or maybe different width lapels.
I already saw a narrowing of women’s attire in DC where I used to live. A group of blue suited people walking by could contain just as many women in that
uniformoutfit as men. I suspect those women can rotate their wardrobe as infrequently as men.
I wonder if this is a tradeoff men and women would make. For women, less judgement on clothing choice, but less choice. For men, more choices but more judgement.
I’m wicha there…
Additionally, since I have a big ass, low waisted jeans given too many a view of my posterior cleavage that no one wants and is way to “breezy” for me.
“I don’t understand why it isn’t possible to have a business model that doesn’t screw the average worker or customer.”
Because each and every one of you has repeatedly shown by your behavior that low price is the only thing that matters to you, and you are willing to accept whatever consequences ensue.
There is no unicorn that magically makes costs disappear. If you insist on low prices, you are in effect requiring that your vendors reduce costs wherever possible. In addition, running a mass merchandiser with thousands of locations and a global supply chain is a capital-intensive process, so their must be sufficient profit to provide a return on that capital.
They exist, and operate the way they do, because y’all demanded it.
One needs hip boots to wade through the hypocrisy on this issue
Target’s early demo tapes showed promise.
It’s a shame they sold out.
Fuck off with your bullshit. You didn’t even read the thread.
@burnspbesq: I think this thread is displaying the exact opposite of your stupidly smug diatribe.
People here seem to be saying if they had a mid-priced alternative they would never step foot in a big box retail store. They want decent goods for a decent price. Not the junk that’s been forced on them by the predatory practices of WalMart, etc. No one forced the government to take lobbying money and create legislation that let WalMart win a race to the bottom, and successfully destroy medium alternatives in communities.
This is a much more complex issue with more to the beginning and how we got here than your idiotic reply.
If L.L. Bean has what you need and you can afford the high up front costs, I’d buy from them every time. They have a 100% return/refund policy that is awesome. I bought a briefcase from them at an outlet store in New Hampshire in 2000. It broke in DC 6 years later. I took it to a local retail outlet and they gave me back 100% of the full catalog price in 2000. I actually made a profit on it, which I put right back into a brief case I am still using.
Now, I am sure people will tell me how awful they are. Good thing I can’t afford to shop there anymore.
@Raven: Uh oh. I am not a football fan and I have occasionally chimed in on football posts.
I have been thinking about you and your friends.
I loathe low-rise pants. Found out that Old Navy has a few comfortable stles with medium-to-high waists.
Gilles de Rais
Timely. I just set foot in a Walmart for the last time yesterday. I was going to buy some pillows.
I opened the pillow bag and someone had smeared a huge green booger all over the pillow. Damn near lost my lunch. Shoved my cart to the side and left. Never again.
Went to Target and bought nicer pillows for $3 less per item. The store was so quiet and clean in comparison. I had not noticed that before.
I prefer Costco if at all possible (used to work for them, awesome company) but they don’t carry separate bedding items.
@FridayNext: I agree. But one non-negotiable that’s interesting is how men’s clothes are a lot more comfortable than women’s. Interested in swapping? Charlie’s Aunt, anyone?
I agree that society tends to put men in as many small boxes as women. But, speaking as a geeky girl, I’d take your trade :)
Are you saying that we have seen the enemy and it is us?
I will also add that we destroyed good wages for unionized airline employees in the 80’s by going for the Southwest game of lower fares (temporarily). How many of you heard the salary for some pilots in commuter airlines is somewhere around 16K per year — for someone who literally has your life in his/her hands!? The race to the bottom that ensued Southwest’s destruction basically eliminated decent paying jobs for their airlines and ultimately made air travel like riding in the back end of a chicken truck
By the way, you will note that Southwest’s cheaper fares didnt last and now they are like everyone else’s.
Its tragic but we have to stop pretending that we had no role in this…
@WaterGirl: Thanks, the brain surgery went well so we wait on the biopsy (these folks came from C-U as well). As far as chiming in, chiming in to say “I hate football” is what I meant. I don’t think you do that.
Those of us with no ass or hips appreciate low-rise pants. Now if they just came in reasonably durable denim instead of this thin pre-distressed stuff that blows out at the knees after 6 months.
Can’t do that TJ.
“By the way, you will note that Southwest’s cheaper fares didnt last and now they are like everyone else’s.” I beg your pardon.
This. System-wide re-invention of our economy will be necessary, and I can’t say I have a clear idea of what we should aim for yet.
I don’t think that he was saying it was an easy thing to sort out… He said our choices have consequences across a whole range of outcomes.
Absolutely on the comfort. Especially shoes.
Raven’s have the better team but I really thought the Texans would play better. The Texans looked pretty good when they played the Falcons.
@WereBear: I shop gender-non-specific.
I tend to ignore the MEN’s, WOMEN’s section labels and find what I like.
Because of my build, that tends to mean women’s tees (for example) actually look a hell of a lot more flattering on me, in general
Of course, I tend to look like teh ghey a lot, but I could give a fuck.
The upshot too – is at least it affords me a little more variety and originality – and tends to shave a few years off of my look. Fuck gender binaries!
@Elie: He was saying the exact opposite of what the overwhelming majority of the comments on this thread described. Then he called it hypocrisy.
It was a typically stupid and overly smug comment, with no basis.
14 points on turnovers in the 1st quarter. Not going to win on the road doing that.
Yep — I agree… how to do it is part of what we face with even seemingly unrelated health care reform. With over 17% of GNP, there are a lot of piglets on those teats and shinking the hog is gonna make them squeal way before they starve ’em.. And then, that doesnt answer what teats we put them onto either..
We have to start waking up to what we have before us and what that means. Of course, most will avoid that for as long as possible but we can either choose and alternative or have events thrust the outcome upon us the hard way…
@Raven: That’s great news so far for your friend, though I’m sure it all comes down to the biopsy results. How is your other friend holding up?
As for football, I am more likely to chime in with “not a big fan of football, but my brother-in-law is, so how’s it looking for the bears today”.
Though I do enjoy popping in on those threads, especially when I find about 7 or 10 posts like this all in a row:
Never thought I’d see that!
No one ever describes what just happened, so I am left to wonder. :-)
God dammit TJ. That was double coverage.
Shawn in ShowMe
To pay employees well and give them good benefits, the price of retail goods actually need to go up. It’s the other expenses that our paycheck goes toward that need to diminish or go away: Requirement to have a car — which leads to car note, car insurance, gasoline, healthcare premiums, tuition, etc.
If the enormous burden of transporation, education and heathcare costs was taken off citizens’ shoulders, we’d be able to afford to pay a little more for retail goods.
A lot of our economic ills stem from what is being subsidized with government dollars. Living with dignity, hell no. Guns and oil — hell yes.
I don’t like thread jacking, so without an NFL thread allow me to note that I assiduously avoid buying my Ravens team gear from Target or Wal-Mart because knowing that little Chinese children were exploited to make this sweatshirt would ruin my enjoyment of watching the team dismantle the Texans like this. So I wear nothing but home made Ravens’ gear.
One of the distinctions American’s often don’t grasp is that maybe Europeans take home less in their paycheck each time. But what they get is THEIRS.
I’m late to get back into the conversation. As is obvious from my ignorance of Target’s presence in Arkansas, I am not much of a shopper. I am blessed to live in a county with dozens of artists and artisans and I “shop” with them for Christmas and birthdays almost exclusively.
This older article about anti-trust laws, etc. relative to Walmart may apply. Author Barry Lynn has an article in the latest issue, which I have not read yet, called “Killing the Competition: How the New Monopolies Are Destroying Open Markets”.
Actually most of those people are employed by the cosmetic/fragrance company, not the store. They also are commissioned which is why their crap is even more expensive. They are snooty because sales physiologists tell them that the people who will drop the extra see that as a sign of a superior product . . . you know, morons
Here‘s a photo of the flagship Hudson’s store in downtown Detroit in 1973 and a 2010 shot of the same location.
This store meant a lot to many Detroiters. Then they imploded it (1997?) I was watching from the roof of a Goth club on State street at Woodward. Sad.
I will add that its important to remember that we have had major salary stagnation over the last two to three decades which adds to the need for cheaper goods and services. If our wages had kept up, maybe we wouldnt need so many cuts to stay within our wages?
Try ordering online from Coldwater Creek. Their outlet shop has lots of good sales. If there’s a store in your area, you can easily return anything that doesn’t fit.
@Elie: That’s not what he was saying.
And I think most of us on the thread seem fairly aware of the sentiment you read into burn’s comment. Which is why many of the commenters here are talking about shopping local when they can, and lamenting the fact that sometimes things like locale make that very difficult to do.
Way to generalize.
You need to get out more, counselor.
Target 10 years or so ago was one of the chains that allowed their pharmacists to consider their so-called consciences and refuse to sell morning-after pills. I wrote a very polite letter to corporate headquarters to protest the policy, and in return got a nasty letter from Target so-called PR.
I don’t shop at Target, even though they opened a store that’s nearly walkably close.
My Target red card is a VISA card. Has the VISA logo on the front and I still get my 5 percent off on Target purchases. And I can use it elsewhere, so it’s definitely not a “store” card.
The Ancient Randonneur
Goodness. The first comment thread I read today and it’s even got T & A. I love Balloon Juice and it just keeps getting better!
BTW – to answer the question posed in the post – Target National Bank and Target Savings bank (yes, they own 2 banks I assume its some tax dodge but who knows) have been around since before Sam Walton was swindling farmers of of their milk checks. Thats why they didn’t catch crap about it.
@JoyfulA: Make copies of the letter, paste it to some signs, and stand on the sidewalk in front of their property (but not on it, so they can’t call the cops!)
We did that to Chase bank here. It wasn’t ultimately effective, but if felt pretty good every time someone looked at the rabble and turned around and left.
Ok – I reread and agree…
Had a problem with reading comprehension. Still, he wasn’t totally wrong. As Corner pointed out, the issue is complicated and we have to work on it in a number of ways. Buying local is totally a good idea as is buying from farmer’s markets, etc. Those are individual decisions that make our lives better. That said, we still have the larger issue of how to keep the economy afloat in the current consumerist paradigm …
@WereBear: Charley’s Aunt?
I’ll take “Where’s Charley”, thanks, if only for the song.
I’ve read that WalMart will abandon a site for another one nearby (as mentioned herein) and then keep paying rent on the old one so nobody else can use it. Talk about salting the ground.
And I don’t know if Target has the history that WalMart does of putting Main Street, RealAmerica(TM) out of business, then abandoning their store. It’s a real shove down the cliff of a downward spiral of tax base, shopping, and employment.
It’s a difficult thing to imagine for lifetime suburbanites (like me) who never seem to be more than 10 miles from some Mega-Lo Mart, and who spend their dollars on the proverbial battlefield where Target and WalMart compete.
Target isn’t anywhere near as bad as Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart took out life insurance policies on their elderly retail employees, waited until they kicked the bucket and then collected the money leaving their widows/widowers high and dry. Wal-Mart holds seminars on how to apply for Medicaid and Welfare for their employees. Wal-Mart has stopped providing health insurance for their part-time employees and previously provided crap insurance for them. Wal-Mart expects their employees to work off the clock for no pay. Wal-Mart’s black Friday incidents show that they have no concern for their employees’ safety.
I worked at Target and have friends/family who work at Target. I’ve also been to Target on black Fridays. They treat their employees decently and are concerned about their safety. They provide decent health-insurance to part-time workers. In Minnesota at least, they pay above the state’s minimum wage.
@Elie: I’m down with that. I hate the consumer economy but it’s what we have – I agree with a previous poster that basically said if our wages hadn’t stagnated for the past few decades, while cost of living rose anyway, we might be able to afford paying higher retail prices – which would *maybe* help alleviate some of the mess we find ourselves in. Alas, so much of the otherwise “disposable income” is now tied up in health-care, the higher cost of food, mortgages etc…
It’s a famous old play where the male hero has to dress as someone’s aunt.
When it comes to shopping, I went from suburban Long Island to an area so rural it doesn’t even have industrial development. We actually have a working downtown; but when my mother-in-law was growing up, there were three department stores right in town, locally owned. Now, there are none; and we just lost our only bookstore at Christmas.
@askew: I think they both suck – and target hasn’t convinced me that they’d be any better than wal-mart in that regard, if they had the kind of liquidity and buying power that Wal-Mart does.
I avoid both of them whenever possible. But as I said before, WalMart at least employs people target wouldn’t touch.
Hug for insisting on writing about football. Now there will be no thread of any sort.
Texans are beating themselves.
@4jkb4ia: Not sure I take your meaning?
@gaz: That’s a good idea. At that time, the nearest Target was 15 miles away, and I’d never been in one.
I figure if PR is so offputting, the company as a whole isn’t where I want to spend my money.
Thank you Arian Foster!!
@Corner Stone: duh! Understatement of the day..
@JoyfulA: Yeah – screw ’em. =)
“John won’t put it up precisely because I asked for it”. That kind of paranoia.
That is how you do it–you give Arian Foster the ball by default.
For children’s clothes especially and other stuff as well, try yard sales and your local freecycle.org. A lot of people give away or sell for a quarter clothes that didn’t fit long enough to show wear.
@JPL: Not just the two stupid turnovers, but they made a couple stupid penalties in places where you just can’t do that.
@4jkb4ia: You’ve lost me. But that’s ok.
NFL Thread PLEASE. kthxbai!
As opposed to being a pathologically obsessed, hair-on-fire PUMA.
@RD: Not sure I take your meaning?
@WereBear: I under-spoke (apologies if you already know this), but “Charley’s Aunt” was turned into “Where’s Charley” and the latter has Ray Bolger as the lead, and songs by Frank Loesser.
I usually don’t cotton to non-musical plays that “work” having music added to them, as I live by the idea that a complete and successful stage play doesn’t have any holes to be filled by musical numbers. But “Where’s Charley” is one of the good ones.
Oh, and on-thread content: Twenty years ago friends of ours went from inner-495 Mass to Iowa City. Quite the kulturshock. They arrived just after the first Indian restaurant in the city opened up.
Yeah, the destruction of the downtown Hudson’s store meant destroying a piece of Detroit’s history, but the fact is that by the year of the first picture, 1973, the downtown store had been in decline for some time. Much of it was due to the larger forces at work, particularly suburbanization. Hudson’s took part in that by building stores in the burbs, thus taking away the need for shoppers to go downtown. As a kid, I think I had set foot in the downtown store maybe a handful of times; when my family shopped at Hudson’s (which was not that often), we usually went to the local mall to do it. There’s a certain irony in the fondness that many Detroiters express for the old Hudson’s store when you consider that those same folks contributed to the store’s demise by not shopping there.
I agree with mistermix. I will go to Target to buy something without kicking and screaming. I will view shopping at Wal-Mart with a very jaundiced eye.
The last time I was at Target, we bought a set of tumblers because all the old ones had broken. Sometimes you need a general store to sell things simply because you need them, and it does not have to be fancy. One of the roles of Jews in the South was to run this kind of store, and I think this is an impediment for Wal-Mart going into India to the extent they would like. Wal-Mart is the general villain because they have destroyed this kind of store in the rural areas that used to have them–I don’t know if Target is in the same kinds of places or if they are exclusively urban. I will have to look this up now.
But the homogenization of retail and the lack of a living wage for the people that make the stuff we buy is absolutely bigger than Wal-Mart.
Are you high?
Big emotional finish for the Texans to this first half. To go in only down by 4 is huge.
I am LESS high than I have been for a very long time, but that is metaphoric. Literally, yes, I’m sober. The store part is in Eli Evans’s “The Provincials”, hardly an anti-Semitic book.
What I came here to say–there is a Target in Dardenne Prairie, MO, which I think qualifies as the end of the world.
Good point. By ’73 the exodus out of the city was already 6 years under way. A. A. Taubman and others saw opportunities to develop malls for the suburbs and this reduced the importance of the downtown stores, which were the most costly to operate.
@Shawn in ShowMe: I also think it’s not entirely accurate. I believe the number of unionized workers at Target is astronomical compared to Walmart. But idk, maybe that’s just low expectations.
Football is gonna be over soon.
Sports talk never is.
No, it’s because Target is a bit more of a victim in the race to the bottom, where WalMart designed the race to the bottom. For WalMart, what we have was the design, whereas for Target it’s more a matter of survival.
Target CEO some years ago complained about the labor situation, that Target paid its workers quite a bit more and offered more benefits, but WarMart’s relentless margin cutting and expansion into markets where Target didn’t have to compete with them was forcing Target to follow suit. Sears and Kmart and other retailers were facing the same pressure.
On the home improvement front, Home Depot used to pay decent wages as well, enough that they could attract people with experience in their field to work in the stores, which was damn helpful. But Lowes did to Home Depot what Walmart did to Target – they focused on low wage labor, used that to undercut HD on price and expanded into HDs markets, forcing HD to lower their wages and losing the useful employees.
This is a recurring pattern in retail. I can’t not shop at any home improvement store, I have to pick one – so the best I can do is pick the one that didn’t instigate all of this, and still employs people.
Here’s a better question: Target has ~300,000 employees. Amazon has about ~30,000. Which is more important – making a statement about what company supports what policies, or making a statement about what company actually employs people? And I ask that question knowing that there’s an affiliate link up there at the top of the page, with the inference that Cole doesn’t support labor, or unions or US manufacturing, and so on.
But it’s only talk. Babble. Burble. Banter. Bicker Bicker Bicker. Brouhaha. Boulderdash. Ballyhoo. It’s only talk.
@Martin: That was the Nardelli model. It didn’t work and they are now once again focusing on customer service again.
Elephant talk. Adrian Belew?
I am bemused by people saying “OMG FFS If you don’t shop at WalMart or Target, where you gonna shop?”
We don’t shop at either one –probably stepped inside each once in the past ten or so years, but didn’t buy anything. In fact, we don’t shop, in the usual sense of the word.
I’m now thinking about where our stuff came from (and we have way too much stuff). People gave us some of our furniture. Some of it is very old (40 years plus). Some of it we scrounged. And then again, we just have less of it than most families. When we really need to buy something we go to thrift stores. And the internet. I’d be happy to “shop locally”, but the local stores don’t want to try to help me get what I want. So it’s the internet for me.
What we really have a lot of is books. We now have a rule about buying books, namely, we don’t. Even so, we do go into bookstores, and I can tell you that dead-tree books are still very much in evidence.
Why do I fall asleep during the game and wake up just as halftime starts?
Target got FDIC approval because of, as MattF mentioned, “brand management” and the unions did not oppose it. The unions came out early against Wal-Mart when Wal-Mart first applied in CA and the union went around to the small banks to get their support in stopping Wal-Mart. DH represented Target in its FDIC application in Utah which was granted and while I’ve heard the story a zillion times, I tend to tune out all bank talk so I just asked him again. “Brand management and the unions.” (I’ve thoughtfully abbreviated his response for you.) Yes, we make our living off of banks. But at least he charges them a princely sum.
Heh. Tony Levin once referred to Elephant Talk as the ‘Free Bird’ of the Chapman stick.
@Shawn in ShowMe: Granted but first, no percentage goes to them;
#2 the thrift store experience itself develops a different perspective on both conspicuous consumption and connoisseurship. (Meaning, buyer beware there is no glitz to distract.); and
3. frankly, I think shopping as a “hobby” should serve higher purpose so I repeat, you are actively integrating society.
Yes. Whenever the subject of sports talk comes up, or I flip past any of the ESPN’s when they aren’t actually playing sports, I can’t get this song out of my head.
Is that bad or good?
The game has turned. I wonder if Baltimore has Wal-Marts than Houston?
I worked at both Wal-Mart and Target part-time in high school and college, and I found the work experience at Target to be vastly superior by pretty much every metric. At least at Target I felt like I was viewed as a human being where my contributions to the company were valued. Now, I might just chalk that up to the idiosyncratic differences between the two particular stores I worked at, but it jives with what I’ve heard from people who have worked at both or either places.
I like competitive sports but I cannot abide all the hollering. Is anything more over-analysed than pro football? There must be 100 hours of speculation for every hour played.
Okay, so I can’t now shop at Target. Seriously, people, I make an effort to shop at Costco because they are supposed to be blue. Costco does not have everything. I don’t believe Walgreens or CVS is all that great and neither have everything anyway. Kroeger does not have everything either. I do not have a Kmart close by.
@mai name: I like going to Wal Mart early in the morning and seeing people I know skulking around saving money on the same thing they could pay way more for across the street at Kroger. What is wrong with these people?
Well fuck all ya all for where ever you shop. Now open thread PUH-LEASE so I can be validated in my choice of corporate provided sports-entertainment.
Viva la Revolution!
Question: If you are a well meaning store developer, how do you provide goods at a cheaper price while paying employees well and giving them good benefits?
Mostly these days, you don’t. The whole downward wage(costs) spiral which has been driving our economy for years is(has) caught up with reality. The more you drive down costs the less there is for quality and wages(and even profits). So you have to cut costs even more. I call it the circle of despair. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The financial business is “forcing” governments world wide to do the same thing. Cut costs, and if that doesn’t work, cut costs some more. It’s called austerity and isn’t it so much fun to live through? The result is crap. Crap goods(and services), crap financial business, crap government. The people actually making that crap can do much better, they are not allowed. Management is the problem, bean counters on the 25th floor are the problem, for the vast majority of workers, they do what and how they are told(paid). And this comes from a person who has worked in management, seeing decisions that had stupid repercussions that should have been seen by a third grader past down as almighty rule, with no discussions allowed. Paraphrasing but Peter was right, many dunderheads are promoted until they fail.
It’s probably been said, but Wal-mart is mean in petty ways.
I’d have to drive for hours to get to one.
I know people who make a monthly trip to a big box (Costco, Best Buy?) to stock up.
I was in one on those once.
I was in a mall two or three times in the 90s.
We also have a lot of excess cost that has to be wrung out of the system.. retail, health, everything… We are on a baseline that is too high and we have to shift down to a lower one. There is no easy way to do that. Its all pain and “austerity”. The politics are about who gets to be a semi-winner vs the losers who will absorb most of the squeeze. We already have the Republican answer to that — it aint the rich, even though the rich caused much of it — as in any pyramid scheme, they want to get away with their ill gotten gains and let the riff raff pay for it.
IMHO this is going to be the key battle over the next decade — assigning who is going to “eat” the squeeze
My Walmart set of china? It was made in India.
I’d be happy to “shop locally”, but the local stores don’t want to try to help me get what I want. So it’s the internet for me.
I am in the process of closing a retail store that’s whole premise was to have the expertise in finding out just what the customer wanted and provide it. This can be accomplished only in one of two ways. Huge inventory that will mostly sit on shelves for ever unless discounted(no profit in that!), or order as necessary from each mfg to suit. You want to know the problem? What the vast majority of customers want today is instant, perfect service, instant availability of the perfect product, at a price below the cost of crappy made goods from China. Not all customers but the vast majority. And China et al is not the problem. They can and will produce at whatever level is paid for. It is the expectations of the majority of customers. And the problem I see is that it has not been the majority of customers that drove this. It has been business(specifically Wall St for rewarding idiotic business behavior) that thought that the only way to sell stuff was to be the low cost source. Of course not all business are that way but when the majority have been and as the major cost of production is labor that’s where the cuts have been. Now many can not afford to purchase properly made stuff so what we get is crap.
But why is that cost there in the first place? It is there because we make very little of the kind of stuff that shows up in big box retailers. And why is that? Cost cutting. Big and small companies worried far more about the cost side rather than the product side. We end up with pretty stuff that breaks or wears out easily/quickly. The short term part is barely OK and it’s the long term that suffers. And this is the core of most financial companies. Next quarter has to be good, we’ll worry about 5 years some other time. Cut costs now, we’ll make millions(Dog on car anyone?)
@Ruckus: This hasn’t happened in all industries, of course.
Thinking in terms of cooking: brands like Wusthof, Le Creuset, All-Clad, etc. are still quite successful. Yes, the majority of customers are buying cheap crap made in China, but a significant number are willing to pay more for quality.
An even more pertinent example is cars: the very cheapest cars in the United States are still miles (no pun intended) better than the cars you see people driving in China, India, and elsewhere. We pay a huge premium for cars that pass a fairly rigorous quality standard and no one seems to have a problem with that (nor should they, in my opinion). Moreover, the Chinese are willing to pay a huge premium for our automobiles, too.
@Ruckus: When our clients would come for design services, it to the point where we would say:
You want it fast, you want it good, and you want it cheap. Pick two.
I am one of those people who still goes to the local hardware store, locally owned, rather than the Home Depot or Lowe’s, even if it costs me more. Because I want the little store, in my neighborhood, with the guys who know what they’re doing, to still be there.
The same was true for me with our local bookstore, before they closed a couple of years ago. But now that they are gone, and Borders is closed/closing, I just order from Amazon. Maybe I’m wrong, but o me, there’s no difference between Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I’m so sorry you are having to close your business. I am sure I am one of those who would have shopped there and would have appreciated what you were offering!
I’m going to leave one other thought.
How many people would give a rats ass that the top 1% owned more than the bottom 50-60%, if that bottom percentage was even somewhat comfortable?
You know, a job, a place to live, food to eat and reasonable health. Maybe not a second vacation home or a ski boat but the ability to raise their kids in a nice environment with decent schools. A world in which their kids didn’t have to go off to war for that 1% to get even wealthier, just for the possibility of a job to earn enough to pay for those things.
I haven’t shopped at either for years.
Local groceries for food, local furniture stores for furniture. Local clothiers for clothing.
That’s because we will only pay cheap wages for the majority of manufacturing labor in China, the majority of their citizens can only afford cheap stuff. Sound familiar? But the management? Yeah they make more. And drive the better cars.
Where I live currently a large portion of the cars I see are built elsewhere. But then I see Ferrari and Maserati and more high end MB and BMW than you can shake a stick at, every day, so maybe my view is currently slightly off. I understand that the average age of autos in the US is now eleven, up from around 8 just a few years ago. Not here. Just a guess but the average age here is about 6. And my truck is 14 so I’m not helping the average.
You sound like a software developer! heh.
Except we tend to say
Pick any two: scope, cost, schedule
Lands End has great sales — I got a bunch of clothes in the winter sales… women’s dress shirts for $12, pants for $18-20, wool cardigans for $20 etc… They do send too many emails, but it kept me abreast of the sales. Shipping is free for over $50 and you can return to Sears stores.
@Raven: Because, if you’ll notice, during football season there is roughly 0% of the discussion afforded to anything that is NOT football. I’m not a big fan of team sports as a rule, but baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey season don’t produce the same myopia.
Meanwhile, Tom Levenson enriches us all with fine paintings, which I love, and gets called “Pretentious Art Douche” for it.
So I’ll shut up on the football threads, but please keep in mind that those of us who come for a wider array of discussion might feel a little bereft at this time of year.
Prices have dropped at Lands End and at LL Bean over the the past decade or so, but quality dropped further. I know that Sears bought out Lands End before I bought my second bathrobe with terrycloth that’s half as thick as the old one, and I assume something similar happened at LL Bean.
So instead of buying one or two expensive items at year from their catalogs, I don’t buy anything from either.
One thing in CVS’s favor — when other companies were allowing their pharmacists to not fill certain prescriptions because of “conscience,” CVS announced that their pharmacists would always fill them. So there’s that.
@suzanne: I more or less agree, (although I think Tom L. may even self-identify as Pretentious art douche – IIRC – so there’s that)
As far as football invading all aspects of the blog during the season, all I gotta say is damn if BJ doesn’t imitate life =)
Also, maybe that’s why I learned to cook. Thanksgiving would be otherwise unbearable for me.
We could always hit up stale threads I suppose ;) maybe we should start a Dead Poet’s Society over on the old James Brown thread. Heh
I’m a new shopper at Lands End, and the quality may have fallen but it is much better than Target (where I get stuff occasionally from clearance) and Old Navy/Gap. The sweaters are comparable to Banana Republic. And it seems perfect for kids gear… I just moved to the east coast and was able to get coats and jackets of various levels of warmth and waterproofing plus accessories for two kids without breaking the bank. The quality seems like they will last a few winters as hand-me-downs from one kid to the next.
ohh and Cut to commercial. apparently.
bragging about your consumeristic conquest is sorta part of the problem, dontcha think?
I live in Houston and my neighborhood (the Heights) had a bit of a fight over this a few years back. There’s been a Target in a nice retail center across the freeway for years. Wal Mart purchased land to build a store in the area. The neighborhood put up a huge fight, arguing there would be traffic (not likely since there is little reason to drive through the Heights to get there) and that it would lead to the closure of local businesses (mainly antique stores and family run restaurants — neither of which are going to be threatened by a Wal Mart). The presence of a Target with little to no protest showed how hollow their complaints really were.
@Common Sense: If I catch your meaning, it seems as if you are implying that not having a wal-mart has become more of a NIMBY issue. ;)
I think there’s probably some truth to that.
I’m not a Wal-Mart fan, although I’ve found myself in appreciation of them hiring recent ex-cons. As much as Wal-Mart sucks, Labor Ready sucks worse. They actually do treat you like criminals in that joint (and all of them are basically parolees in LR’s case – but at walmart they can work around people that aren’t all that way. not so much with day labor).
I wish we had other employers that did that. My area would be so much more fucked were that not the case.
But everything everyone has said including me in criticism of wal-mart is absolutely true, and then some too. But yeah – I’m really fond of the employing recent ex-cons thing.
It’s not a sport, or a business for me! Just shopping sales to get what I need.
I apologize for being snippy. You sounded very much “shoppy” to me – I probably read you wrong – the medium sucks.
Disclaimer: I’m a bit “adbustersy” with my friends about this too – even at the risk of stepping in it – which I do sometimes and probably did here. I think we’re brainwashed and do it without realizing it, which is why I’d rather err on the side of being an asshole. Consumer culture will eventually eat everything. So I’m a touch militant about shoppy behavior. It’s a drug.
OTOH: I do like word of mouth on products and stores, etc.
* adjusts foil hat
There. now the mind rays are happy again. wee!
re: Ebay: Many years ago the wife used to work in a retail clothes shop (Banana Republic). Apparently it wasn’t unusual for someone to come in, scoop up a bunch of clothes, put them in a bag lined with tinfoil (to defeat the theft sensors – no idea if this still works), and waltz out. The stuff would all show up on EBay by the next day. I have no idea how common this is, but it does raise some slightly awkward questions about where all this great cheap new stuff on EBay is coming from.
@Ecks: A lot of places use dye packs – which also can be removed.
But you know what? I’m not going to avoid shopping ebay just because some of the stuff might be bent gear (and I bet a lot more of it is probably unauthorized retail – like levis from mexico anyway). And I’m not gonna feel too bad about heading to the pawn shop either – even though once I know for certain (after I bought it) that an item I had purchased was stolen – when I tried to pawn it again – turns out the first pawn store was crooked – and they actually were burglarizing… so yeah. whatever. A few bad apples and all that.
I practically guarantee in fact, that a plurality of clothing on ebay is probably bent gear in some way or another, but that most of that wasn’t had through theft at the retail level. It’s just not that cost effective a scam, overall.
@akak: Just wanted to say that I was very happy with the information you applied in your earlier comment. I found it quite useful.
It’s all right. Shopping is actually very stressful for me — too much research and remorse. Finding stuff while sitting at my computer, on sale, just makes it much easier.
Late to the discussion, but I won’t buy things for either. I know not everyone shares my lifestyle, and that’s fine, but I have no need of big-box retailers. Groceries come from local places – I have three groceries within two blocks in my urban hellhole. Clothing comes from random places – thrift shops, Banana Republic-ish places, I make some, some things, like hats and socks and coats and suits, I buy pretty high-end, at specialty places. Electronics, well, I’m a programmer, so everything except my camera habit is paid for. I don’t watch TV, aside from Netflix, and sometimes that seems like a waste, so I consider canceling it every month. So no TV or cable worries. I make most of my furniture, tend to buy second hand what I’m not good enough to make, and for the exceptions, buy good stuff that lasts (I love my bed). My tools, of course, came from BigCorp, but I don’t feel bad spending money with Makita or similar – thy make things, at least. Aside from knives and a few other things, most of my kitchen gear is second-hand. (Is is even possible to buy new cast iron cookware that doesn’t suck?)
As I see it, my main sin is Amazon. I buy a lot of books, mostly used, through them, and Amazon sucks on multiple fronts. And because I buy books, I also end up ordering other random crap that is just easier through them than finding elsewhere.
@Jamie: I moved out to sticks from a lifestyle much like yours – and am in IT. It’s really *nice* not needing a car, and cool to have local stores.
Frankly, sometimes I’d like to move back, but my wife is geographically limited to this area through the work that she does.
Suburb hell can be rough living if you want to avoid all the things it was easy to avoid in the city – owning a car, shopping at big box stores, avoiding malls, republicans, and careless people that drive SUVs.
Somebody should make an exurban/suburban/rural survival guide for part time hippies. or something like that. =)
My friends that are environmentally conscious talk a lot about minimizing their carbon footprint. It’s an admirable quest, but ultimately there’s only so much you can do.
I made the decision to try and minimize my evil footprint.
Let’s be realistic: much like it’s nearly impossible to reduce your carbon footprint to zero without significantly impacting your lifestyle, it’s hard to live, work, shop, etc. exclusively at places that aren’t engaged in some kind of activity that might be considered “evil”. Consequently, the best that you can hope for is to reduce your evil footprint.
As we all know from the deficit debates, you cannot cut your way to a balanced budget. In this case, your budget is karma with the universe. You have to generate some kind of good karma to balance out the bad karma, and then some.
So, I avoid big box stores if I can. I order online with the same policy. Sure, there’s stuff I can’t find anywhere but big box stores, but if I have to buy something there I offset it with something else, be it time, money, labor, or a simple act of kindness, to make the world a better place.
Yeah, it’s probably crazy, but it’s surprising how much better you feel about living when you know you’re making a positive impact on the world.
Wonderful last words, Jamie, gaz, and Monkey Business. Thanks for the inspiration.
I mostly stopped shopping at Target when they gave that huge amount of money to some GOPer creep (candidate for governor of Minnesota, I think) a year or so ago.
There are some things I just can’t find elsewhere, but I now shop them last. I used to shop there first.
I work a part-time, seasonal 2nd job at L.L.Bean. I think i’ts a pretty good company. Sure, they outsource, and mainly use a workforce of part-time, no benefit people, but that’s just how all these businesses work.
They really are committed to the customer satisfaction thing, no matter how ridiculous the customer is being or how obviously worn and/or abused the item is.
Add the 100% satisfaction guarantee with free shipping and, if you have their credit card, free return shipping, and it’s a pretty good deal. Look for the sales and discounts and the price get surprisingly good. The guarantee is worth along is worth something. Because of the guarantee, they work on the durability of their items.
Of course, I get access to the employee store, and you would not believe the deals I’ve gotten…. 25 cents for pants is sweet!
@cmorenc: Nahhh – Kmart is evil, too.
Remember a decade or so ago they filed for bankruptcy, claiming they had absolutely no assets to pay off shareholders/creditors? Then, miraculously, right after the bankruptcy judge signs off on their reorg, they amazingly find that the value of their buildings/leases is in the billions of dollars. They sold off a series of those leases for hundreds of millions of dollars for each series, and used that money to buy Sears.