Sunday, August 01, 2004

Old Business

Store Magazine's recent list of 100 "biggest retailers" is topped by: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Costco, Sears, Safeway, Albertsons, Walgreens, and Lowe's. The publisher of the trade magazine told the Washington Post reporter what I have been thinking was the case: the cheapest thing often wins. Publisher Rick Gallagher said,
Despite everything we might say about how much we value customer service, look at this list. . . . When push comes to shove, people are going to choose low prices over service.
(Washington Post 7/11/04)

Similarly, while we gripe vaguely about what a shame (or even, how unfair) it is that manufacturing and service work increasingly is done abroad, we tend choose the cheapest thing when we shop, not the Made in U.S.A. item.

A friend complained that the Atkins diet craze led restaurants and grocery stores to fill up with products labeled "low-carb." He found this wrong or offensive, somehow; possibly based on his skepticism about the soundness of the diet. It's just capitalism, I tried to say. People will buy it, so the manufacturers make claims, adjust ingredients. Of course, they have to keep these products cheap, and sell them at Wal-Mart, to really fit into my big picture, here.

Turning to the personal, I believe I spent money in each of those big-box stores that have stores near me this past year. Oh, except Costco; I don't have a membership at any of those places. I complain about them, but I do go. I choose local grocer Ukrop's for service, and Target for nicer products, but I did try to shop at Wal-Mart last summer for savings on non-food items. I have been to Kroger to buy beer, since the 'krops (famously) does not sell alcohol. It may be more than a year since I spent money at Lowe's: I remember storming out of a long, unmoving line (one of two actually open, understand) one Sunday when a clerk responded to a customer's query, Oh good, can you open a new register? with "No, I'm on break." I put down random things like light bulbs and plant food and went to Pleasants on Monday for the same items.

As for buying goods made abroad, that doesn't generally factor in to my decision. I want the thing that I think is best: fits best, will last longest, is best made, or looks best. Next, I look to see if it is within my budget.

Newer Business
Thanks to Mom sticking with me for a long day of shopping on Thursday, I have an interview suit. We went to Hecht's, Nordstrom, Talbots, Ann Taylor, more than one Dillard's location, and . . . Casual Corner. I know, the latter is a bit down-market compared to the rest, but they have that whole petite-size division. Curiously, of all those very reputable shops, it was the only one in which a clerk offered to put the things I had in hand in a dressing room. (I will point out that I did not take anything off the rack in Nordstrom.) Then, another saleswoman who was using a steamer near the dressing room eyed me in the slightly-too-short petite skirt and said lightly, "Did you try a skirt from the other side [i.e., not a petite]? Let me get you one." She was exactly right. I will think of that store sooner next time I need work clothes.

Now, to find work.

At the Byrd: saw the midnight movie, "Office Space." Right.
In Style: The Street Talk item on Teresa
At the Diamond: Braves lost to Scranton, 9-0


Anonymous said...

So bigger must be better?
Certainly cheaper sells more, which means bigger stores. When, though, was the last time you heard of a community circulating petitions to block a new Ukrops?

...and, to offer "the other side" from years of retail experience, the grocery cashier's offense wasn't refusing to open another register; it was appearing in front of customers (especially in uniform) while on break. If you wait to take your break 'til there's no one in line... You'll never get a break, period. You need to take your break away from the sales area, and don't show your face 'til you're ready to go back to work.
(Otherwise, you p*ss off people when you say "I can't open another register, I'm on break"...)

p.s. Brooks Bros at Stony Point has a nice ladies' section.

Lisa said...

True that, on the Ukrops. Isn't that one on Rt. 1 north of Azalea on top of a battlefield?