Saturday, February 7, 2009
Thinning of the Herd
Suppose you are ready to make a major electronic purchase…like, say, a 52” flat-screen television.
Which store would you go to?
A.) The store that is going out of business, or
B.) The store that is staying in business?
If you buy from Store A, you may get a discount up to 30%, but your payment will be divided between the creditors and the liquidation company.
If you buy from Store B, you may pay more but you will contribute to a company that is still viable and keeping people employed.
Which way would you go?
For us, the question is purely hypothetical, but I would buy from Store B. Two Dogs would pick Store A. But I can’t say I am that sad that Store A is closing.
I feel for anyone who is losing a job, but I also feel that this is a necessary thinning of the herd of retail stores. We have too many kinds of nearly identical big-box stores. Could anyone really tell the difference between Linens N’ Things and Bed, Bath & Beyond? Why go to Mervyn’s when you could get the same quality at Kohl’s?
I sense a long-term, and perhaps permanent, shift in consumption in America. We will always want to buy electronics and clothes and books and music and beautiful objects. But we will buy fewer things that are totally unnecessary.
One afternoon in Office Max, I saw a display of tiny plastic trophies, about six inches high, next to the cash register. These little trophies were meant to be awarded to the “Ultimate Slackers” in the office. This is the kind of unnecessary object I’m writing about. It’s not useful, it’s not beautiful, and it’s going to end up in the landfill because it will not grow in value and no one wants to pass it on.
This trophy costs $7.99. Better to buy a good pen with that money. Or a couple of boxes of tea bags. Either one of those would motivate me out of slackiness.
Consumption is an unavoidable part of living. But before you buy, for yourself and for others, ask yourself how much happiness the new object will really bring.