A little about me before I dive into this crazy blog. I did not much understand the idea of blogging, but I observe and talk a lot. I recently got married and in waiting for my work permit to come through I will go stark crazy if I don’t get out some of this BS.
I’ve lived in the US for the bulk of my life, with several blippy years in Toronto, Canada. Anyone know that place? It’s up north of USA. No, really……..REALLY. They created Blackberry. YES…seriously.
I’ve lived on every coast of this country. Houston, LA, San Francisco, North Carolina and Buffalo, New York. So anyone who has ever moved to Canada from the US can identify with my sheer shellshock over their backward, farce on democracy, overpriced, overtaxed ways (more about that in another blog).
So now one of my tasks sitting here in VA is to cook/clean/shop. That includes finding deals, coordinating coupons, sales and fitting our dietary needs and wants into our budget. At first, I told Jay NO problemo buddy, you’re looking at a world class el-cheapo trained by the king of el-cheapo’s: my dad. I’ve been cheap all my life, rarely spending much money on any one item (except my blackberry, more on that later too).
So, we go on our first trip to what I’ve been told over and over is the cheapest grocery store here, Shoppers.
Hmm, the fruit is outrageously priced in summertime, canned beans cost $1 or more each, laundry items are equally expensive and so continued the pattern totaling $150 for our first batch of groceries. WHAT? Where is the land of the cheap America I grew up in and left as recently as Dec. 2007? I have never experienced this level of pricing in any other state.
Next stop, Wal-Mart Supercenter!!!!! Orrrrr so I thought.
Yes, in this tri-state area, the closest Wal-Mart Supercenter is an hour away, in Fredericksburg, where I’m not sure WHAT the logic was but anyway the Wal-Mart we do have sucks monkey’s balls.
You see I’m an analyst, a Market Research Analyst. At every point, I question tactics, my curious and sponge-like nature wondering and dissecting the ins, hows and whys of this wonderfully orchestrated phenomena (uh, not so wonderful anymore).
I can’t even bother going to the other grocery stores, they are so ridiculously overpriced. My beloved Wegman’s is way out of my price range down here…SIGH
Whine and complain… yes I do. Would you believe me when I say this area is more expensive then Canada? You would have had to pay my GST and PST to get me to believe that two months ago. Hey $1 bean cans? What is going on in this city?
As the weeks have passed, I notice that no-one seems to feel the economic pinch here; this is the only area that grows in bad economic times. What a weird catch-22. You would think that businesses would find ways to reduce logistical and internal costs and increase efficiencies or come up with incentives to bring down final product/service costs to attract customers. Guess what, they don’t have to. I was wondering how these expensive grocery stores were surviving, it’s because the fools still shop there.
Couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to the local festival where we stumbled upon a childhood friend of his. He said he had been working in carpet cleaning companies for 7 years and was ready to buy 2 trucks with Stanley Steamer. Great, now sell me on it! “Wouldn’t you want to have your carpet cleaned?”
Is this a new tactic type? 7 years in the business and THIS is how you sell me in 30 seconds or less? I have to sell myself on your products and services now?
“Well, just yesterday our company did $40k in business in this area”
That’s why he doesn’t need to sell.
We ARE in a recession right? I must have been dreaming that up.
In Canada, the reason everything is overpriced is because there is no competition. American companies are looked down upon and have to work furiously hard to get in and the government is complacently smirking disallowing competition to arise, while Canadian companies are merging (there is only one GSM and one CDMA company in the Toronto area), and the public can’t do much because of the intense and costly bureaucratic hassle and deaf ears involved. Canadians Tuning out, the best article I’ve seen on it. The only article I’ve seen on it.
What’s your excuse Washingtonians?
Last night, I was invited to dinner with my husband at their family friend’s house, thinking it was going to be yet another formality. It actually turned out to be a very pleasant conversation. One of the host’s aunts mentioned that her job as brought her an hour out this way from Gaithersburg, MD to Northern VA. We got to talking about how rude some of her clients are and it came up how rude Costco is.
Ah yes, Costco, I too am turned off by you. Costco has had the audacity to only accept cash, debit or American Express since I remember. This lady tried to purchase a $400 item unaware of the payment method policy. Boy, did she get the run around trying to pay for that thing:
“Uh ma’am you can apply for an American Express card and pay that way”
“Don’t you KNOW you can’t pay for it with a Master Card?”
How about you say “Sorry ma’am we don’t accept Master Cards, but is it ok if we help you apply for an American Express card?” She wasn’t buying your $3 cucumbers; it was a $400 machine! Much like I too, don’t get help while shopping or friendly smiles but instead an angry customer service associate because I was using my mother-in-law’s card to do her groceries. What a way to make me a customer.
I hear Costco doesn’t treat their employees well. Mr. CEO, won’t you take a deeper look? Or is your company like everyone else here working hard at closing that oh SO fat wallet…? It must be laborious. I too accidentally signed up for Costco thinking Sam’s Club has no gas station. Boy I smacked myself when I saw that hidden gas station at Sam’s Club.
I went to DSW before a highly anticipated Luray Caverns day trip hoping for some decent shoes for my ever aching feet. It was a treat from my hub-sand. Yes purposely mis-spelled.
The sheer number of rows of athletic shoes prompted me to question an associate as to which is best for hiking/trail. Her response? “Well, they’re all in this general area…” and I said to her “Yes, but I don’t need all of these, I need specific hiking/trail shoes” “Yes ma’am, they’re all in this area…”
Ok, I have zero knowledge on shoes, how the heck am I going to make an informed purchase of $100 shoes? I marched up to the main counter area where 4-5 associates were co-mingling and talking and said very loudly “Is there anybody here who actually knows shoes?” Only one person did, the manager. She took me straight to the one shoe designed for my specific need, it was on sale, $66 and some tax later, I was going home with the shoes I needed. One person in the whole store, and I actually had to be rude to get that attention.
I went to the mall today, actually walked out upset. Hundreds of thousands of square footage, and every store carrying the same jersey material, 80’s, flat color, same cut, style, design, fashion, material, price tag items. Shopping was B-O-R-I-N-G. Where is my shopping experience? I was happiest at Sephora, exchanging a badly recommended concealer shade for a closer match. Very easy to do so with very helpful associates. With a smile on my face, and items in my purse (having saved another bag from the landfill), I walked out, back into this boring mall, smile gone. Clearance here and there on items I can still not believe were ever on the full price rack at some point (who comes up with this nasty stuff and WHO wears it?) and seeing ridiculously tiny mannequins showcasing clothes that are ill designed for the average person (and I’m a size 4 saying this! The caveat is I have a big chest and wide hips) and nary a sign of incentive.
Sure, I should go to the big price tag stores for better fitting perhaps, but I don’t have that kind of money. Where is my mass-produced, affordable Charlotte Russe? Ah yes, lost in translation along with everyone else in the last couple of years. Weren’t these stores supposed to have individual ideas and interpretations of clothes, fashions, colors and prints? Weren’t they supposed to be different from the one two steps down? Mr. CEO, what are your employees doing? Are your managers managing? Are your designers designing? Are you CEO’ing? Or are you all just cop-cop copy-catting? Well, you must be making your company money otherwise you would have changed your strategy.
WHAT is going on?
Pretty much everywhere I go, stores and services act as if they don’t need my money because they have lines of people waiting to get in on their product or service. I don’t see the lines, but the businesses are still standing so the lines must be there and the fools must be buying still.
For now, I’ve settled for couponing up the yin-yang, and I mean that. Two weeks ago, a $70 CVS bill totaled $27 and I received $6 in CVS money. $50 in savings (God Bless America).
$20 off in coupons at shoppers on triple coupon days, oh boy, I save up my coupons when THAT party happens. God Bless Coupon Mom too. Boy have I learned a thing or two from that website about saving money! Other than that, I don’t really shop here for clothes etc unless I really need something, which is rare.
This is my life here in northern VA; I will be pressing my luck with my ongoing analysis of this city.