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Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

Pragmatic Romantics: Boycott Valentine’s Day Flowers

February 14, 2011 10 comments

As the rain pelted sideways on the weekend, I stooped to throw a bouquet of roses into my grocery cart. An attempt to cheer up our joint on the darkest of winter days, add a little sunshine into the mix, mask the stale aroma of February. But I was horrified when I noticed the normal $14.99 price tag had been jacked up to $29.99, courtesy of my least favorite Hallmark-induced holiday, Valentine’s Day.

I was prepared to leave this one alone this week, to let bloggers and columnists wage their own wars with cupid, falling either in the pro or con category. If I were to predictably fall into the con category, you might think I am a washed up cynic, jaded by fifteen years of marriage, any romantic spark long since replaced by everyday realities.

And you would be right.

Suckers only need apply

My image on the line, I’m still prepared to go down this route to exploit the flower industry as the crooks that they are. Forget Hallmark, who at the very least can’t double the printed cost of their red and pink cards as February 14 rolls closer, the florists of this world are the biggest benefactors of this artificial holiday. I’m disgusted with the injustice of jacking up their cost of arrangements to double their normal price tag.

The last thing I have ever wanted for Valentine’s Day is flowers (honey, are you reading this?). I have long been a proponent of the “give me flowers any other day of the year instead, when they are half the cost” club. I cannot relate to all of those tweets and stories I’m reading about women who just want flowers for Valentine’s Day – “would that kill him”? What is romantic about receiving flowers on the day some marketer has deemed it romantic to receive flowers? Our collective lack of imagination has too many people resorting to being sheep, with the florists of the world being the lucky benefactors.

I would rather receive a new water bottle.

At least most retailers worth their salt have wizened up and offer pre-Christmas sales, so we don’t feel we are complete victims to the cause. If you are one of those smug people that goes around toting flowers at double the cost on Valentine’s Day, you may as well have “sucker” tattooed on your forehead, or  “kick me” attached to your behind.

Contrary to how this sounds, I actually am romantic, but also pragmatic. Read me a poem on Valentine’s Day, instead. I promise I won’t laugh.

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The Groupon Buzz

December 23, 2010 3 comments
Groupon logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever noticed little pockets of conversation, or keywords themselves, that follow you everywhere you go?  Little words that, if the world was one big comic strip, would be the bubble thought above almost all heads, right up there with ‘sex’ and ‘chocolate’?  Buzz words that our collective pop culture speaks of, almost uncannily in unison?

Right now, that buzz word is Groupon.  As though I was freshly dipped in honey, this word is following me everywhere I go.  Move over Twitter, there is a new phenomenon in town.

For those who live in a vacuum, Groupon is an online discounter that provides you with mega deals on local stuff – anything under the sun that I know exists although I haven’t personally seen it for weeks.  Today’s Groupon deals offer a 3D golf lesson using a simulator, or a revitalizing facial, both at 60% off the normal cost.  Restaurant deals, weekend getaways, and merchandise at greatly reduced cost also figure prominently.  Once you sign up, you get an email each day announcing its main deal, with a couple of other promotions in the side bar.  So if golf lessons aren’t your thing, perhaps you could be enticed to open your wallet for some bling, or a river rafting adventure.

I frequently hear about Groupon during my favorite pastime, grocery shopping.  “I bought it today on Groupon for 75% off!”  The other night on our way to dinner, our chauffeur/designated driver somehow parlayed into “… Groupon, the fastest growing company in history!”  Last night, getting a pedicure at Edgemont Village’s newest nail bar, aptly named Get Nailed, I casually asked the store owner how business was.  “I did a Groupon promotion and now, it’s great!  3000 people bought the deal in a day!”  She now has enough business to ride out 2011.

Groupon has got to be the greatest invention since the hula hoop for small business owners.  It cleverly puts those with something to sell in front of thousands with money to burn, so long as they are getting the deal of the century.  Many who wouldn’t normally consider river rafting will find themselves donning life jackets and facing the rapids this coming May to cash in on their skookum deal they got today on Groupon.  Even better for the companies offering the deal, are those who buy today on Groupon only to completely forget about their prepaid adventure.  This cash infusion can be used to propel these small businesses into the new year and beyond.

It is a brilliant business model, as Groupon’s stupendous revenue attests.  By helping businesses grow, and arguably helping consumers save money, they are in turn helping themselves to become a dynasty that thumbs its nose at the likes of Google and its six billion dollar offers.

I have yet to buy something on Groupon, although I have mentioned its deals to people who may be interested in its offerings – and by that old method of word of mouth, not via email in order to reap the $10 reward for referring a client.  A friend mentioned he was looking for a picture on canvas for a bare wall; next day low and behold Groupon was offering a deal on such pictures, with free shipping.  One strange coincidence, or were magical powers involved?  No wonder Groupon turned down Google.

This could be my day for buying a Groupon deal.  I am not one for lying naked on a bed while a stranger examines my pores with a magnifying glass, and then proceeds to torture me with a variety of instruments under the futile guise of returning my skin to its former glow.  But for half the price, maybe I’ll buy two and bring a friend.

Such is the power of Groupon.

Dear Santa, I would like a laptop, an iTouch, a Nintendo DS….

November 19, 2010 2 comments
A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

Halloween is not in the can for a week, and the Christmas crap starts.

Before I have even taken the skeletons and cobwebs (this, in itself, is alarming: Halloween decorations??) to storage and put away the multiples of costumes, the kids have their Christmas lists finished and are asking about their dresses.

Dresses? For one day?

As I’m questioning the necessity of whether they each need a dress they will never wear (Doesn’t last year’s fit? How about something a little nicer than normal that you will actually wear again throughout the year?), I catch a glimpse of my oldest daughter’s list.

The first item is a laptop computer.  And then the cheeky bugger has listed several other items beneath it, since you can’t simply get one gift for Christmas.

Hardly an original thought, but once more, with feeling: have we lost our marbles when it comes to consumerism at Christmas?

I said as much to her.  “But I need it for school! We don’t have enough laptops to go around,” she wailed.

She is eleven.  Whatever happened to the blackboard?  And slates?

I try not to point my finger solely at her – it is the age in which we live.  Also to blame is her peer group, who seem to up the ante on every birthday and occasion. You can’t blame her for trying.  But it seems to get worse every year, the wish list loftier and longer, the price tags higher, the gadgets fancier.

We’ve traded in American Girls (who knew you could spend that much dough on a doll?) for electronics.  A couple of years ago it was the iPod, then the Nintendo DS, then the iTouch.  (The requests for the cell phone have been ignored although her voice gets louder, and I am sad to report she is in the minority of her group of friends who must resort to land lines for calling home – “use your friends cellphone,” I tell her cheerfully.)

When I was her age I was lucky to get a Barbie.  The world, and not just my daughter, has gone mad.  And you either must buck up in order to make their wishes come true, or buck the trend; in which case your name, come Christmas day, will be the Grinch.  Or Scrooge.  Pick your poison.

The answer, of course, is to educate your children about those who have so little at this time of year; let’s help them instead.  We gather necessities and tiny treasures and put them together for families in need in our community.  We deliver bags of food to the Food Bank.  We talk about all the people all over the world who are simply trying to survive each day, let alone play with a new toy.  We do all this until the cows come home.  And yet when tucking them in at night, it’s back to their list.

This is where the tough parenting comes in.  I love my children to the ends of the earth, but it’s my job to teach them that their happiness can’t be bought.  I want them to be joyously happy on Christmas Day, but not because I’ve forked out January’s grocery money on their gift.  I want them to have great friends and feel secure but not because they received what the rest of their friends got during the holiday.  I want them to be thoughtful, loving, caring, empathetic citizens, not greedy, selfish drama queens.

It’s so much easier to say yes than no, but what is that teaching them?  I always did have a soft spot for the Grinch.