Friday, June 26, 2009


There's nothing quite like a good ol' sale to encourage the secular materialist to come screaming out of us like a savage shopper. For whatever reason, our fight-or-flight mechanism also evolved to apply to discounted items. Seeing a Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk Commemorative Plate may elicit a vomit reflex in normal situations, but discount it by 80%, and you'll find yourself using your umbrella to beat off other shoppers for the chance to spend that $4.99.

I swear that's the reason I purchased that National Jamboree Commemorative Letter Opener1. Evolution. It's all Darwin's fault. I'm not like that normally!

Recently I've noticed my amazing skill at finding items on sale. I figured this was a genetic ability passed down from my mother. She's beyond famous for walking into ridiculous discounts. I think she's never spent more than $50 to buy anything. This includes clothes, shoes, large zoo animals, cars, and several national banks.

Just the other day, though, I walked into Macy's, and I noticed there was a sale...again. It dawned on me. I've never ever been in Macy's without there being a sale. Now that I'm graduated and jobless, I'm tempted to stake them out, and stop by every day for a month, just to see if there's a sale. I think we all know what the answer would be.

Of course, this shouldn't have surprised me, as there are many institutions which are in a state of perpetual sale. I used to work on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, where there are several rug shops lining the street2. I don't think the large 'Clearance Sale' sign on the store across the street ever came down. That must be one tough business, because they have been going out of business for the past three years3.

Therefore, next time you find yourself obeying your evolutionary reaction to grab the nearest item on sale, pause for a few moments, and consider the likelihood that they're gaming the system. You need to wait for a 'good' sale, or what used to be consider a normal sale. There has been malicious sale inflation over the past fifty years. Don't fall for their tricks.

1. That's a bald-faced lie. It wasn't even discounted. I bought it for my Mom, thinking she missed me during my three week stay. That may yet be true, but with eight kids, she had forgotten my name by the end of the trip. I had to prove my maternity via a DNA sample on my return. To this day she is unable to say my name without first guessing a few others.
2. Okay, Palo Alto has a rug shop? I mean, population what, 50,000? And that's enough demand to support a Mediterranean rug shop? Would you like to know something more outrageous? There are SEVERAL rug shops. They must be making money somehow, but I don't know how--at my old place we never once saw anyone enter or exit or stray anywhere outside holding a rug. There's even a fleet of vans and new beetles all painted up rug-style continuously parked at the Bryant parking garage.
3. I really, truly, am not making this up. Go to downtown Palo Alto, and count the number of clearance or going out of business sales.


Julie said...

oh so true. dollar amount is more important than discount percentage.

Hazzy said...

You'll love this.

I remember last year or so, walking by that rug store and feeling slightly sad that they were going out of business - some sort of remorse for small-business owners forced to shut down their enterprise due to the recession.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a new rug store a few weeks (or months) ago that was also going out of business!