Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Christmas Season Saturday

Home Depot - I love you.

Our Christmas present to ourselves is a water filtration system. I remain unapologetic about drinking bottled water but it gets expensive, so we can cut down on that -- and on hauling the heavy flats of bottles, and on Recycle bulk -- by having a working system. That's meant several trips to The Depot.

I've tolerated Larry's love for the place in the past. I have to occupy myself while he examines boxes of nails or valves or doomaflahchies, but he endures my examining every book on bookstore sale tables, and every purse in the Kohl's accessories department, so it's the least I can do.

But the Depot has won me over. Because they are not (at the moment) playing Christmas music! Yesterday we were there and, while Christmas decor is all over the place, the muzak was everyday pop. OK, I thought, I need to check it out on Saturday. But nope, they weren't playing holiday yuck today either!

My gratitude is boundless.

Next: a gripe. You will have a very very hard time convincing me that Chinese imports do a [BLEEPBLASTED] THING for the consumer. Why is a little girl's Made in China coat priced like this, and how exactly is the potential consumer benefitting? Speak not of shareholders nor of management - tell me why this quickly outgrown coat should cost working mom or dad, even if their jobs are intact, 80 dollars? And this, though it was the higher priced item (and no, not highest), was only $10 above the lower. Except for much lighter windbreakers, no truly warm girl's coat had a tag of less than $70.

Another note on the economy is the state of our shopping mall. A major tear-out of old walls and ceilings took place in 2007. Stores closed to make way for renovation work. A lovely mural of the future new and improved Inlet Square Mall was posted. Then the money ran out. The work stopped. Exposed wires and ductwork have hung there for a year. Old decorative tile was jackhammered up and has left raw concrete patches everywhere. And that was before the current financial meltdown.

I don't want our mall to expire, but it's happening to others, and with so much empty space, its financial viability is precarious. If it goes, all of us Inlet-ers have a longer drive in awful traffic to Myrtle Beach, for JC Penney, or for K-mart, both Inlet Square anchors. Our K-mart is a lifeline for local necessity shopping. Even Wal-Mart, though closer, is an unpleasant drive, plus I really hate shopping there.
On to happier thoughts - the filtration system is running! This took major plumbing work on Larry's part -- this is only the upstairs part; he had to work on basement water lines, too -- but he's built a car and a house from scratch at various times in his life, and....'s installed! It has to flush through a couple times, but we may have filtered water by tomorrow afternoon.


Catherine said...

Oooh, I love my filtered drinking water (we put it in when we re-did the kitchen). Makes the best tea, too!!

Our mall isn't in very good shape these days, either. Costco did just move into town, so it's possible that the mall may revive -- because Costco, as a destination store, should raise all the retail boats. But we'll see. Our mall has been dying for years and I don't know if it can be salvaged.

Dann said...

Hi Ruth,

The short explanation is that the same coat made by American hands might cost twice as much. For some families, the difference between buying any coat or no coat at all may be the fact that it is made by workers that make less than Americans make.


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Catherine - i think malls may need to make radical changes during this tough economy!

Dann - you'd actually probably consider that rack of coats a success story of the free market at work, because the racks were jammed with unsold goods, and i was only there at all because Kmart, which must have priced them a lot lower, was nearly cleaned out. Even in SC, buying season is way-over on kids' coats and i expect these will be deep discounted shortly.

Your point is based on a HUGE entitlement, by management and shareholders, to the money of working people. The price would indeed be much higher for US-made, because the same profit has to come in for those managers and shareholders. In a sense, this is the new economy, something we all came to accept, and have accommodated. One in which the cost of materials, labor, and distribution, with what we used to call "reasonable" profit for each, is such a small fraction of the price tag now. And old views of "reasonable" profit are no longer considered acceptable.

Dann said...

Hi Ruth,

You are correct. I believe this is an example of how the market works to deliver the quality/quantity/price combination that people need.

Home Depot runs on a 5% profit margin. That fits my definition of "reasonable".