Posted in shopping, Stories

50% off

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

My wife found some nice home decor items at a local craft/hobby/home decor store. She had been waiting for certain items to appear on the shelves and when she did, she snapped them up.

On her way out of the store, another customer told her that those items would be on sale on Monday. If you bring them back, they will refund 50% of your purchase. I know, I thought it sounded too good to be true, too. My wife called and sure enough, that’s what they would do. And you couldn’t just bring your receipt. You had to physically cart the items into the store with the receipt, and they would credit your card.

We had already hung the items on the wall, but they came down easy enough. My wife loaded them back into the car, carried them back into the store, and drove them back home with the promised 50% credit.

Sweet. But I have questions. Why not just sell the items for 50% off. After all, a lot of stuff in the store is “50% off.” Why make them bring the items back in? The receipt isn’t good enough? Why can’t you do this whole thing online? You can do everything else online, from refinancing your home to buying a car.

Of course, I know the strategy is to get you back in the store. That’s why you get bonus bucks, discount coupons on your receipt and flyers in the mail. The more often you’re in the store, the more you’ll buy. Plus, how many people will actually take down the decor items and bring them back to get the discount and credit? I’m guessing not many.

That’s marketing these days. Drive traffic to your website. Get people into the store. Put wonderful items at the end of every aisle. Make people think they are getting a great deal. If they are willing to give you 50% back, think of how much that item was marked up to begin with!

Posted in Ministry

The Pathmark experience

I think my mom was some kind of genius, at least when it came to raising us kids. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she really knew what she was doing.

I’m thinking specifically of taking my brother, sister and I food shopping each week. In the mid-1960’s, the sun was setting on neighborhood markets as a new day dawned for big supermarkets. Our big supermarket was Pathmark, known for big selection and discount prices.

Mom was a devoted coupon cutter. Each time we went shopping, she made a deal with us. If we helped out, stayed out of trouble and didn’t ask for anything, she would split all the money she saved with coupons between the three of us. We could spend it any way we chose. Ka-ching!

So we were usually helpful, fairly well-behaved, and she didn’t have to field constant requests for stuff we wanted. In return, we usually blew the money on candy and learned a bit about shopping. Win-win. I know the money never amounted to much, but we always felt like we had won the lottery!

Genius.

Posted in common sense, shopping

Help! I’m being held hostage by product reviews!

In the good old days before online shopping, I would go to the store, look over the available products, and select one to buy. I’d pick the one that looked good, felt good, and was priced right. Do you remember those days?

I shop on line now. As do many of you. This means I buy a lot of things sight unseen. So I read the reviews. Positive reviews. Negative reviews. And some in-between. In a crazy, scary way, these reviews control my purchases. People I don’t even know are controlling my shopping habits.

And here is what I have noticed: negative reviews wield much power over me. A product may have, let’s say, one hundred reviews. 90% are four or five stars. I will read the one star reviews, the ten percent, to learn why this product is junk and the seller a piece of slime.

The negative responses usually go something like this:

  • “Worked for ten minutes, then quit.”
  • “Instructions were vague; assembly took three days.”
  • “Poor quality, missing pieces, shoddy craftsmanship, disappointing purchase.”
  • “Too hot” “Too cold” “Too hard” ” Too soft” “Too big” “Too small” (Goldilocks responses.)
  • “Arrived broken, seller unresponsive, and my life sucks.”

You know what? I tend to listen to the negative. I read about all the things that go wrong, and decide I need to buy something else. Something better. Something of quality. Whatever. People I don’t even know are controlling my shopping habits!

OK, Bill, take a deep breath. Who is writing these reviews? “Verified purchasers?” How do I know that’s true? Satisfied customers? Unsatisfied customers? Who knows.

Most of the time – the majority of the time – I’ve been happy with my purchases. And they had nothing to do with the reviews. I am not a bad judge of quality. I know that my purchase comes from China (duh!). And I know I can send it back for a refund. No harm. No foul.

You can either choose to be controlled by someone else’s opinion. Or your own discernment. My inner voice is valid, too.