Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Everything Must Go!

When I was in California briefly to visit a member of the family, I read in a San Diego newspaper that the corporation, Mervyns (no apostrophe, as far as I know), based in Hayward, California, had decided to declare bankruptcy. Mervyns is a lot like J.C. Penny, except with fewer household goods for sale. That's my sense, anyway.

The head of the corporation was quoted as saying (and I paraphrase) that they'd explored the possibility of being purchased by another corporation but that, ultimately, they decided that the best way to pay their creditors was to announce that they were going out of business and then conduct "going-out-of-business" sales (through the end of the year?). This was the first time I had heard a corporate executive articulate a business-practice I had long observed: Stores go out of business (slowly), but first they attempt to ingest one more large meal of cash. They do so by creating a sense of urgency, a kind of store-apocalypse, and consumers get the sense that they will be able to buy things very inexpensively by "taking advantage" of the "wounded" store, which is more likely taking advantage of them by "slashing prices" on things consumers don't really need and still making a nice profit.

Nonetheless, I'm sorry that Mervyns is going out of business. I kind of like stores that are on the lower end, so to speak, of the market, and my eldest aunt worked for Mervyns in Hayward for a long time. She died quite a while ago, but I tend to remain slightly sentimental about these things. I'm also sorry for the people who are working for Mervyns now. May they find good work speedily after Mervyns closes for real.

Anyway, I exhumed a wee poem about "everything must go," the customary tag-line for going-out-of-business-sales.


Hurry—everything must go!
This sale won’t last forever.
We accept all major credit cards
with unconditional love.
We’re closing our minds forever. The
savings are incredible, so don’t believe
them. We’ve forgotten what business
we’re in, so we’re closing our doors.
We know our business concerned
merchandise, which must go, so
hurry to the corner of Want and
Need. We’ve slashed our prices,
which are bleeding. You must
hurry, we must go, and everything
that doesn’t last forever is on sale.

Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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