Sticker Shock 4

How do prices get determined?  Why is a particular liquor or ice cream or coffee priced way above the rest?  Why do designer clothes cost what they cost?  I mean does a silk Hermes scarf cost anywhere near what it costs to produce?  Is it simply what the market will bear?  Is it the hype that has been generated around certain name brands?  (I know about costs of production, shipping, etc., but some things are priced way out of line with that.)
When stores mark items down, way down, they are still making a profit most times are they not?

Are people able to afford or stretch to afford items that are regularly advertised?  I am constantly in sticker shock over the costs of clothes, household items, and public work projects.  Clothes are especially interesting because the woman who will buy one pair of shoes for $100 or even $500 is going to want to have a lot of shoes not just one pair.  How are people who work, who are not people of wealth, able to afford such things? Are there that many wealthy people around to buy the “luxury” condos going up all over? Thank goodness for Mar-shall’s, the Maxx, Tar-get, and Craig’s List.  And even in those places, I regularly put back things because they cost too much.  Is it just me – is it that things cost too much or that I don’t have the money to afford the things to which I’m attracted?  Hmmm.

Have you noticed that if  you stay out of stores your wants go down?  I have learned to substitute the fantasy of owning something for the actual purchasing of it.  Hence, my love for catalogs.  I peruse the catalogs that come to my door – mostly unbidden – for weeks at a time.  I circle items and turn down the corners of pages that have the things that have struck my fancy, the things that I like. If an item speaks to my inner fashionista or interior designer deeply, I will tear the page out and place it next to my computer where I look at it longingly several times before it either goes in the “one day I’ll get” folder or into the recycle bin.  I create fantasy fall and winter wardrobes and then I let them go until the next shipment of catalog comes through.  This habit started when I was a child and the Sears and Spiegel catalogs would come in the mail and my sister and I would ooh and ahh over all the beautiful stuff in them.

I must say that if Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, Soft Surroundings, Sahalie, etc., didn’t print and mail so many catalogs, they could probably reduce some of their prices.  It speaks to how little things cost to manufacture (how little people are paid to make things) that companies can still make a profit despite the advertising and marketing costs they incur.

I will spare you my opinions, for now at least, on the cost of public works projects and the war and health care and things like that.

In the meantime, I am blessed to have what I need and several of my important wants – like love, health, and beauty – surrounding me.  If you have the eye and the will you can put beauty in your life or notice the beauty that surrounds you very inexpensively – sometimes even for free!

On this morning after the snow storm that wreaked havoc in Boston before the next, even bigger one strikes tomorrow, I will do some work trying to drum up a job; enjoy the fact that I have electricity, heat, beauty and love; and give the catalogs one more glance or two before they go to the recycle bin.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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