Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown No Problem: Online Retail Startups Shift into Brick-and-Mortar

With a tinge of bitter irony and perhaps desperation.

Mattress startup Casper Sleep Inc. is going to disrupt, again. Brick-and-mortar retailers are melting down. Today, clothing store rue21 filed for bankruptcy, shuttering 400+ of its nearly 1,200 stores. A slew of brick-and-mortar retailers announced a similar fate this year. To survive, they’re trying to carve out their niche online. But online retail is tough. And online-only retail startups too are finding out that it’s tough, and now they seek salvation in, well, brick-and-mortar retail.

“You have to start with digital,” Philip Krim, CEO and co-founder of Casper, told the Wall Street Journal. But once the brands is better known, “offline distribution – that’s where you’re really able to get a lot of scale,” he said, apparently oblivious of the meltdown.

Casper’s primary product is a foam mattress, sold online, and shipped in condensed form directly to a bedroom near you. Its revenue reached about $200 million in 2016, up from $100 million in 2015, Krim told the Journal, which added: “Casper raised prices on its mattresses in January to $950 from $850 for a queen, saying it made improvements that justify the higher cost.”

But a snag has cropped up. “Casper is finding it can no longer shun the storefront.” So it made a deal with Target.

Target expects in June to put Casper’s products [pillows, sheets, and other accessories] at the end of rows, a high-profile area, and 35 stores are scheduled to have a larger display with a Casper mattress to try out.

Target, which said the deal came together after about a year of talks, doesn’t yet sell mattresses in stores…. But Casper said it would become the exclusive mattress of Target.com and is discussing the possibility of bringing the bed into stores.

For three years, Casper has “lured customers through Facebook ads and podcast sponsorships,” as the WSJ put it. “It plastered New York subways with posters featuring cute cartoons, sponsored podcasts and flooded Facebook and Instagram with ads.”

Casper came to my attention in November 2014, inside a black envelope addressed to “Resident,” and titled “San Francisco Offers.” The envelope contained six glossy sheets, each for a different online retail startup. One sheet showed this:

No text, just a girl with a mysterious smile waiting for me. In tiny print, the brand, which I circled.

You had to look at the other side to find out what this was. The whole package got my attention – in that respect it worked. It was old-style advertising, delivered by the Postal Service. It relied on hormones. Car ads used to be that way before they were pooh-poohed.




At the time, Casper had just gone through its second round of funding, $13.1 million in August 2014, and the ad is part of what they spent this money on.

None of the six online retailers in the packet had invented anything that hadn’t been done before. Anyone with enough funding could offer the same thing. “This is how they’re going to disrupt,” I wrote at the time. “With glossy junk mail.”

Now they found a new method with which they’re going to disrupt: brick-and-mortar retail.

Even after all these years, I’m still getting junk mail regularly from Casper and other online retail startups. The USPS delivered Casper’s most recent offer six days ago. Minus the girl. And the paper was thinner – shrinkflation even in junk mail.

But that nifty junk mail isn’t doing the job properly, it seems. Hence, the deal with Target.

Here’s the problem. Online retail has been soaring – 14.8% in Q1 year-over-year, the Commerce Department reported today – even as sales at brick-and-mortar retailers, led by department stores, have gone into a tailspin.

Millennials are on the forefront of this shift to online for everything. Casper knew this at the outset. Hence its online-only sales model. But now, it seems to have run out of Millennials to sell to, or something.

It relied on the fat margins resulting from not having middlemen that can eat more than half of the retail price. Target is going to exact its pound of flesh, and Casper’s margins are likely to get crushed.




Casper isn’t the only online retail startup that has discovered that selling to millennials or anyone else online is tough.

The WSJ cites Harry’s, which sells discount razors online via subscriptions. Last year, it made a deal with Target. “Within weeks,” it “gained a 50% market share at Target for razor handles, according to Nielsen data,” the WSJ gushed. After huge and costly launch promotions and hoopla?

Harry’s co-founder Jeffrey Raider said the profit margins from online sales ended up being similar to those from stores. “If I had a crystal ball I’m not sure I would have predicted it,” he said, adding that the future of retail is a mix of online and in-store sales.

Then there’s prescription eyewear retailer Warby Parker, also co-founded by Raider. It designs its own glasses and has them manufactured. It too faces a ton of competition online. Hence brick-and-mortar.

“It opened its own store in 2013, and experienced better sales than it anticipated,” the WSJ said. Today, it “has more than 50 stores, with a total of 70 expected by year’s end, and co-founder Dave Gilboa said he thought online and physical-retail sales could be even in a few years.”

“E-commerce is taking share but it’s doing so more slowly than I think we thought when we launched,” Mr. Gilboa said. “If we were just to focus on online at this time, we’d only be able to address about 3% of the overall eyewear market.”

Some years ago, there was “a gold rush” of online only startups that bought cheap ads through Facebook, Ben Lerer, an early-stage investor in Casper, Warby Parker, and other online retailers told the WSJ. “Now it’s gotten harder,” he said.

But retail is always hard. Customers are demanding and finicky. Marketing is costly. Advertising can eat you alive. There are few barriers to entry, and competition is fierce. Free product returns can be a killer. Amazon looms everywhere. Too many consumers don’t have enough money. And everyone wants to disrupt.

VC-funded startups have an advantage: they can lose a lot of money. They’re not expected to be profitable. They can burn cash and then get some more cash to burn. Other retailers that cannot burn investor cash forever, like rue21, end up filing for bankruptcy. And for online retail startups to seek salvation in brick-and-mortar, just as brick-and-mortar is melting down, has a tinge of bitter irony, and perhaps even desperation.

The closure of thousands of retail chain stores and the bankruptcies ricocheting through the industry are having an impact on retail malls. And mall investors – that may include your retirement account – are getting crushed. Even the biggest. Read…  Retail Meltdown Demolishes Mall Investors




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  81 comments for “Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown No Problem: Online Retail Startups Shift into Brick-and-Mortar

  1. Candide
    May 16, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Amazon is opening a number of storefront bookstores. Funny no one is mentioning this. You’ll note the facial recognition cameras and beaten down employees following you at every turn.

    I assume once Barnes and Noble is gone they’ll fold up shop although Besos might be so petty as to want every independent bookstore in America to close (it’s his hobby dispensing misery- just ask any Amazon online storefront owner!).

    Picture the last independent bookstore in America- boxed in on four sides by Amazon stores.

    https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=13270229011

    • May 16, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Amazon is not a startup. Amazon is trying all kinds of things, many of which never pan out. And when they don’t pan out, it just shuts them down and goes on.

      • gary
        May 17, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Well Wolf, now Bezos is supposedly getting into online pharmacy. To me, it looks like he’s just going after whatever cover story he can to justify the stock price. My theory is very reasonable.

        I mean, first he’s a bookseller, then CD’s , then crazy drone delivery, then cloud, etc. etc. etc.

        • TheDona
          May 17, 2017 at 10:24 am

          If Amazon goes after the Multimillion dollar online Pharmacy business, Bezos will kick ass. It will be the beginning of transparency in pricing. The current system of Pharmacy Benefit Managers keeps prices in the dark, yet controls it all.

        • May 17, 2017 at 10:39 am

          TheDona, I don’t necessarily disagree, but “transparency in pricing?”

          “Transparency in pricing” is anathema to Amazon. On Amazon, prices are changed at any moment by sophisticated algorithms, with different people seeing different prices, depending on what cookies and browsing history they have on their devices, and whatever else is known about them.

          You can get apps and browser extensions that track those price changes even while you’re not paying attention. And they chart those changes too.

        • intosh
          May 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

          Transparency in pricing from Amazon? That’s a good one. Do you know they use algorithms (they like to call it “AI”) to fluctuate prices based on your shopping habits and real-time demands?

      • Petunia
        May 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

        Wolf,

        On my way to the mall yesterday, I was listening to conservative talk radio, they are really mad at Bezos over the Washington Post attacks on the president. The general idea was that listeners using Amazon are feeding the beast of opposition. This might turn into a problem for Amazon, watch for it. The right is already taking credit for putting ESPN in its place.

        • Bee
          May 17, 2017 at 10:54 am

          I’ve spent $10 at Amazon the past 6 months (and only because the 2 items were rock-bottom prices). I have moved on to greener pastures because of Bezos’ big mouth. Jet.com (now owned by Wal-Mart) is awesome in every way. I was at Amazon for many, many years, simply buying books and textbooks to start.

        • Smingles
          May 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

          “This might turn into a problem for Amazon, watch for it.”

          It won’t. These boycotts are never successful. Reminder: Trumpflakes have boycotted the Star Wars franchise, Budweiser, Starbucks, Kelloggs, et al., all accomplishing approximately nothing. Liberal snowflakes have boycotted many of the same companies, for different reasons. They too have accomplished nothing. These companies don’t even flinch any more. At the end of the day, most people just don’t really care about identity politics as much as you do, which is why these boycotts are never successful.

          “The right is already taking credit for putting ESPN in its place.”

          ESPN has been “put in its place” due to a number of reasons that have nothing to do with conservatives: (1) virtually every major market has a dedicated full-time local sports channel now, with more in-depth local coverage, (2) online sports coverage has exploded, (3) ESPN has paid HUGE money in recent years for their media licenses to broadcast, and most importantly (4) cord-cutting, with no way to get ESPN a la carte.

          But it’s nice of them to take credit.

        • Petunia
          May 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          Smingles,

          The reason liberal boycotts don’t work is that their constituency is younger and less affluent. The spenders are older and more conservative, so more effective.

          The ESPN cord cutting is a two front attack. Part of it is against Disney for hiring H1Bs and the other part is the leftist politics. I expect numbers for Disney products, in America, to keep dropping. Maybe overseas numbers will paper it over.

          The movie business in general is hurting, same thing, nobody wants to support agendas they don’t agree with with their money. I know I am more conscious of where I send my money. I also find myself watching more foreign entertainment because it is less offensive.

        • Bee
          May 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          @Smingles – I don’t think you’re too familiar with the right’s buying power/boycott abilities. ESPN did suffer big-league (and yes, Kellogg’s to an extent) because of this. The left has the opposite ability–they boycotted Ivanka Trump yet her sales increased something like 350%. LOL!
          Amazon recently dropped free shipping from $49 spent to $35, now it’s $25?! Would love to see it happen! :)

        • Bee
          May 17, 2017 at 2:09 pm

          @Smingles – Macy’s is another one that got what they deserved. Their stock ~immediately~ pummeled 50%(!) after their CEO’s anti-Trump comments—and I believe it’s currently sitting at 1/3 or less of its value prior to pre-Trump comments (I believe part of that last downfall was due to dying retail, as Wolf has repeatedly printed here)!

        • May 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

          Bee, I think most investors react based on their profit motive, and not based on their political feelings.

          So here are some numbers on Macy’s crash.

          Macy’s shares started crashing in July 2015 (with a 5 not a 6), when it began airing is problems, shuttering and selling stores, etc., as I’ve been reporting. At the time, they were about $74. By December 2015 (again, with a 5 not a 6), so 11 months before the election, they’d plunged over 50% to $34. This is part of the brick-and-mortar meltdown, and is caused by investors reacting to its operations, sales, profits, and prospects.

          Other retailers are in the same boat. Many of them are going bankrupt. As a consequence of these store closings, Mall REITs too have crashed, as I predicted back in May 2016.

          Macy’s shares are now at $23. They took their time to go down this far (70%). This two-year journey is the brick-and-mortar meltdown – not Trump’s doing, and not the doing of investors (hedge funds, algos, ETFs, pension funds, etc.) who feel aggrieved by whatever Macy’s might have said about Trump.

          BTW, Amazon’s sales and shares have soared over those nearly two years that Macy’s shares have crashed.

          In the end, it’s always unclear why shares, such as Amazon’s, rise to such ridiculously hight levels. But there is no mystery why brick-and-mortar shares have plunged. A number of them will go to zero in bankruptcy.

        • Bee
          May 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm

          Wolf—I would love to inform you Donald Trump’s call to boycott Macy’s was July 1, 2015 (that’s 2015 with a 5, indeed). This was all before the election. My comment stands—Macy’s stock value dropped 50% after their CEO’s anti-Trump comments. Thank you.

        • alex in san jose
          May 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm

          Petunia – this is all hilarious!

          I never knew I was participating in all these boycotts. I’ve not been in a Macy’s in well over a decade. Likewise a Radio Shack, nor have I seen a movie – Disney or otherwise – in several years. Kellogg’s cereals are too expensive for me. I’ve very happily ignored all things Star Wars since I was a kid and am not about to stop.

          So, the right-wingers are taking credit for the generalize retail and economic slow-motion train wreck that’s ongoing? Aren’t they special….

        • jzreaper
          May 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

          Easy fix is to not read Washington Post articles. I still shop at Amazon but I avoid (will not read) all or any Washington Post and New York Times articles. Google News has preference settings that allow you to filter news articles (but on a sliding scale without option to eliminate any one news source). Of course Google not much better than Amazon.

        • Bee
          May 17, 2017 at 10:56 pm

          alex in san jose:
          “So, the right-wingers are taking credit for the generalize retail and economic slow-motion train wreck that’s ongoing? Aren’t they special”
          You’re missing the mark. Example: Ivanka Trump’s products saw a 350% increase in demand after the left’s boycott of her wares. The “right-wingers” clearly should be taking credit for this, ~especially~ during a “slow-motion train wreck that’s ongoing”. This happens repeatedly with those on the right, boycott/buy. Target is another company that comes to mind that some on the right have recently “boycotted”. I think you’re the one who repeatedly says how you earn $12k/year—I know people who spend that just at lowly Target each year. When hundreds of thousands of these slighted (or whatever their beef) people take action, it’s noticed! That’s on you for not realizing it.
          I’m not saying I’m left or right and I’m not calling for anyone to boycott or buy; I’m simply giving the facts.
          P.S. Macy’s stock was actually on an UPWARD TRAJECTORY before their CEO’s words. I had to leave the house and wanted to get my previous comment out *quickly*!

        • alex in san jose
          May 18, 2017 at 6:17 am

          Bee – I’m not arguing, what I’m saying is, Don’t attribute to a concerted effort what can more easily be explained by tons of people being broke.

          I don’t even have any idea why anyone would boycott Target, although I do remember the big data breach they had and so I’m “boycotting” their membership card. There are lots of things I buy at Target because the prices are good.

        • Petunia
          May 18, 2017 at 10:18 am

          Alex,

          While I agree with you that the general decline in retail is due to low incomes and financial anxiety, not every purchase is based on lower prices. Even at the lowest moment of our financial despair, we would not shop at Walmart because of the way they treat their employees. Our extremely limited spending went mostly to Publix and Winn Dixie, with their higher prices, and better hiring practices.

    • TJ Martin
      May 17, 2017 at 12:00 am

      Hey .. StarBurnt’s tried that tactic on independent coffee shops with a vengeance .. and for awhile it panned out … until it didn’t .. with locally owned coffee shops making major inroads across the US once again as StarBurnt’s retreats to a more ‘ compact ‘ presence .

      Sigh … everything that goes around comes around .. and they aint nuthin new unde the sun .. regardless of what the hucksters try to tell ya

      • ERG
        May 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm

        Tactics are one thing, but shi**y coffee and SLOW service are another. Starbucks is the DMV of coffee.

  2. TJ Martin
    May 16, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Oh the irony . Genuine irony that is .. not that hipster wanna be garbage that passes itself off as irony .

    Online sales are our savior .. until they’re not .. digital marketing is the only way to go .. till it isn’t … and and Millennials are the future .. until they’re not .

    The question that anyone with a modicum of logic , discernment and intelligence should be asking is ;

    When are all these pretense of business and marketing experts with their obviously overinflated MBA’s gonna get it thru their thick digitally addled heads that a healthy mix and balance of both online and brick and mortar is the only future worth pursuing … rather than just this or that ?

    Oh wait … I’m preaching logic and common sense to a business world addled by and addicted to greed to its own detriment … never mind ………

    • intosh
      May 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      They are “growth stocks”… until they aren’t.

  3. Lee
    May 17, 2017 at 12:35 am

    ” Amazon looms everywhere.” Even in Oz.

    Talk is that one reason the following IPO was put on ice was Amazon as it has it retail share prices:

    “Wesfarmers has shelved plans to spin off its stationery and office supplies chain Officeworks into a separately listed company.

    The conglomerate – which also owns supermarket giant Coles, home improvement chain Bunnings and discount retailers Kmart and Target – said that following a strategic review it had determined an IPO of Officeworks would not raise enough money because of current poor sharemarket conditions.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/business/retail/wesfarmers-shelves-officeworks-sharemarket-float-20170516-gw6grq.html

  4. d
    May 17, 2017 at 12:47 am

    “Harry’s co-founder Jeffrey Raider said the profit margins from online sales ended up being similar to those from stores. “If I had a crystal ball I’m not sure I would have predicted it,” he said, adding that the future of retail is a mix of online and in-store sales.”

    Raider has future.

    He understands, people sometimes want/need to see and touch, and they will travel to a place to do that, before they buy, online or in-store..

  5. ML
    May 17, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Here in UK I’d never heatd of caspers until its ads began to appear on the video at the gym. Shortly after Eve matthress ads had been showing for a few weeks. Eve has just raised about £35-40M GBP in an IPO in UK. So you can buy shares in the next big thing, or non-starter (depending upon how cynical you are!)

    Are we about to have a mattress war?

    • Rob
      May 17, 2017 at 3:42 am

      There have been mattress direct retailers for years. We bought custom mattresses years ago for our kids from a website. babymattressesonline.co.uk, but there are plenty of others now.

      I dont see how a one size fits all foam mattress will disrupt a better offering apart from losing money on every sale.

    • Smingles
      May 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

      I can’t imagine these companies will be super-successful in the long run, but who knows.

      You can buy a 10″ queen foam mattress for $250 on Amazon from a variety of retailers, and while they are of course not as nice as a $2,000 Tempurpedic, the simple fact of the matter is they are about 90% as good, for 10% of the cost.

      I mean it’s a giant block of foam. I don’t care how much “activated charcoal” you put in it, or what 2″ layer of cool-gel is there, at the end of the day it’s just a giant block of foam you sleep on.

  6. Bruce Adlam
    May 17, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Everything is becoming a joke held together by cheep super low interest rate money. When the stock market correct itself it will all make sense until then pigs can fly

  7. Pavel
    May 17, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Interesting piece, Wolf. I listen to an embarrassingly large number of podcasts and have thus heard countless adverts for Harry’s and Casper. (Obviously there is one or more big podcast advertising broker placing the ads everywhere — from computer to comedy to libertarian economics podcasts!)

    My parents and sister both got Casper mattresses and like them. I’m a bit surprised by the comment from the Harry’s razor chap that the profit margins from online are about the same as retail… how can that be?

    • MC
      May 17, 2017 at 7:19 am

      I don’t know about prices at Target, but the Harry’s razors I saw in shop were pretty damn expensive… and very much like Gillette they seem to have some insane margins on the blades themselves.

      Gillette has long made some pretty nice profits on spare blades and all the new manufacturers following in their footsteps like Harry’s, Elkaline, QShave etc have copied their model.
      A set of 8 blades for a Gillette Mach3 razor, hence something in the middle of the price range, will set you back €20 on Amazon.
      By contrast a pack 50 stainless safety blades will set you back €8 or even less.

      To justify such a monstrous difference in price, manufacturers have long used the “quality” excuse. For example Harry’s say they have this factory in Germany which cost them US$100 million, yadda yadda… but honestly how hard is a razor blade to manufacture? I buy razor blades from all over the world just to try them out and the best are those from countries like Egypt and Russia. I have some Dorco (China) to try out now and I am ready to bet they are better than any fancy name. I just hope they are better than Weishi razors…

      • d
        May 17, 2017 at 7:38 am

        Until very recently (like months ago) the chinese still had not mastered the basic technology required to manufacture the tips, of ball point pen’s.

        Chines razorblades loose their edge very quickly, for they same reason chines “Stainless steel” boat fittings RUST very quickly.

        The Chinese “Steel Standard’s” (and in. fact all Metal Stan cards. Are very very bad and very very inconsistent.

        The same very inconsistent standards they now want everybody else to accept, and work to.

        • TheDona
          May 17, 2017 at 10:16 am

          Google San Fran Bay Bridge bolt failures due to those great cheap Chinese “steel” products.

        • May 17, 2017 at 10:52 am

          Those cracking bolts were made in Ohio. But the steel tower, which holds up the bridge and is still standing, was made in China, shipped in huge pieces by barge, and assembled on location.

          When there is sufficient quality control, Chinese steel is as good as any. Much the auto component industry has moved to China, under rigorous control of the global automakers, and it’s working out, mostly. But iron-fisted quality control is a MUST in China.

        • TheDona
          May 17, 2017 at 11:22 am

          Wolf, my apology. I have not followed up on the bridge story in a few years.
          Looking at todays articles, it does appear that the Ohio company provided what was called out for in the specs. What an expensive mess all the way around with lots of finger pointing.

        • May 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

          HUGE MESS. But we’re famous for our construction messes here. See the “Leaning Tower of San Francisco.”

          http://wolfstreet.com/?s=leaning+tower+of+san+francisco

          I don’t know if there is another city in the world that has two mega-projects like this turn into fiascoes simultaneously.

          On the positive side, authorities are persistently assuring us that both structures are still safe at the moment. So no problem. I drive across the new span with one hand. The other is useless because my fingers are crossed.

          :-]

        • d
          May 18, 2017 at 12:15 am

          “But iron-fisted quality control is a MUST in China.”

          With frequent and random rotating of inspectors, as the suppliers pay off the inspectors.

          Aluminium ladders and scaffolding planks are other chinese products we have had issue with, both products failed, killing contractors.

          The metal in the products, when tested locally, was not consistent with the certificates.

          “”

          The bolts were made in Ohio. Where did the steel stock, the bolts were made from, come from.

          Made in USA, with steel from china, is becoming a problem, also.

        • May 18, 2017 at 12:27 am

          If I remember right, the bolts had some kind of engineering problem … the engineering firm or the bolt manufacturer (I can’t remember which) chose the wrong grade of steel, or something like that… something stupid…

        • d
          May 18, 2017 at 1:03 am

          “chose the wrong grade of steel,”

          chose or was supplied.

          Normally that sort of thing is 8.8 9.9 or high nodular iron Stainless. With various coating applied after machining.

          The question would be, did the supplier of the bolt stock, foul up, or did they deliberately supply low grade material (standard Chinese trick) and make a huge amount of extra profit.

          Or did somebody specify the wrong type of coating.

        • d
          May 18, 2017 at 12:03 am

          Don’t need to.

          I helped an associate/client, replace fasteners. In glass balustrade, 3 Kilometres of it, on 1 apartment building. (It was about to bankrupt him as heed need to be paid his retentions on the job)

          The fasteners were less than 18 month’s old, rusting badly, and all chinese, certified, “Marine Grade Stainless Steel”.

          A certificate for anything made in china, is not worth the paper it is printed/written on.

          The supplier of that product, has fine print in their terms and conditions of sale.

          “We are unable to guarantee or support, the quality and certification, of imported product’s.”

          And it stood up in court.

          Needles to say, that supplier has been losing a lot of commercial client’s.

        • intosh
          May 17, 2017 at 12:38 pm

          Don’t blame the Chinese if you are addicted to cheap prices. Remember, you invented this game — predatory capitalism, race to the bottom.

        • d
          May 18, 2017 at 12:38 am

          “Don’t blame the Chinese if you are addicted to cheap prices.

          Quality never goes out of style.

          I have never been addicted to cheap because, it is cheap. When I was about 12 I found a spanner and tried to use it, it bent, instead of turning the nut.

          It taught me, with, tools, vehicles, and equipment, you get what you pay for.

          Now with made in china, you don’t even get what you pay for.

          Poor quality, Cheap, and Nast china, has forced quality, out of the market. In many places.

          This is a big problem.

          Even made in Germany is becoming a problem, as you have no idea whether the materials came from china, and if they are consistent, or as stated.

          “Remember, you invented this game — predatory capitalism, race to the bottom.”

          American’s did that, and the same American Vampires Corporates, are now allied with china, abusing globalisation, to suck the planet dry.

          Unsustainable, poor quality, consumer, and predatory trade based exploitation, as developed by america and china, is not, Capitalism. Its Suicide.

      • Pavel
        May 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

        I haven’t tried Japanese razor blades myself but I suspect they might be of very high quality. A hair salon friend of mine says the Japanese scissors are the best, and I have a few wonderful hand-made kitchen knives from the Tokyo fish market. Fantastic quality.

        Very much off topic but the best haircuts-and-shaves I’ve ever had were in Japan — lasting typically about an hour, with a proper shave, cut, shampoo etc for about $35. (Of course it depends on the exchange rate.) In NYC there is now a boom in “old style” barber shops and the equivalent would be at least $50.

        • MC
          May 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

          One hour to get a haircut? Who are you, a Hollywood star? ;-)

          Personally I found “BRICS” razor blades to be far superior to German, Italian and US ones.
          Shark (Egypt), Astra (Russia), Derby (Turkey)… they are all really good and incredibly cheap. Vidyut (India) are generally good but seem to have some QC issue, as out of 10 blades at least two do not cut as well as the others.
          But honestly I’ve never seen Japanese razor blades and personally I suspect they use Astra’s they are the usual choice of high end barbers.

        • Paulo
          May 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

          My barber gets a great tip if he keeps it to a short visit. Mind you, with this Trump stuff in the news we do like to chat. 1 hour? I would pay $5. 15 minutes? $20.

        • Pavel
          May 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

          ha ha MC, I can’t seem to respond directly to your post.

          Not a Hollywood star but the cut and shave in the Japanese barber is about one hour… consider it “therapy” :) The barbers are very meticulous and the old-style shave of course takes time.

          Note there are also “1000 yen” barber shops (about $10) where they cut hair in 10 minutes! Perfect for the busy salaryman.

          Wolf, you must have some knowledge in this domain…?

        • May 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm

          Yes. One of my experiences is in my book BIG LIKE … a scene at my barber in Takadanobaba. Great experience, a real treat, hobbled by my communication skills. And it took quite a while, as you said.

        • Lee
          May 17, 2017 at 4:53 pm

          Don’t know about Japanese razor blades, but I’ll state that the Japanese make some of the best knives in the world.

          And I’ll even give Kaijirushi a plug as some of the in-laws in Japan work for the company:

          http://www.kai-group.com/global/en/biz/

      • Petunia
        May 17, 2017 at 10:07 am

        We get Dollar Shave Club, they are good enough for the price. We were paying over $32 in the drug store, now $9. Since we have two shavers in the house, that’s over $500 a year in savings.

        • MC
          May 17, 2017 at 10:59 am

          If I remember correctly, DSC blades are manufactured for them by Dorco. I presently have two 10-packs of Dorco Prime to try out. They are usually very highly rated, so it’s no surprise you are a happy shopper.

  8. alex in san jose
    May 17, 2017 at 3:24 am

    I went out today cash in hand to buy a pair of shorts, and the store I was going to get them from didn’t have them. “Oh, we haven’t ordered any” – OK, sorry to inconvenience you, I’ll just order them from Amazon. ( I didn’t say this out loud ).

    • RD Blakeslee
      May 17, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Any attempt to buy anything at brick and mortar requires an investment of at least a little travel and more time than “one clicking” on the item you want, well-nigh invariably available on Amazon, iffy at brick and mortar.

      • Pavel
        May 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

        Plus at the brick-and-mortar one runs the risk of having to deal with don’t-give-a-sh!t millennials staring at their smartphones, ignoring the customers, and who don’t seem to know much if anything about what they are selling.

        /rant

        Disclaimer: I hate Amazon as well, but for other reasons

    • Petunia
      May 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

      I also went out this week to buy a sandwich maker. All the stores carry the exact same brands. The top of the line kitchen store had the best deal. The surprising thing was that this kitchen store used to sell outrageously priced “imported sounding” brands and now all those expensive items are gone.

  9. michael Engel
    May 17, 2017 at 6:13 am

    The last 53 days of do nothing little candles near the DOW
    top, – and the rest of them tops, – it’s Apple & Amazon are finally doing
    deliveries to the the forgotten men.
    It will be repeated.
    We, the people, finally have their power.
    Thanks to two old guys, with a combine age of 180 years, drinking
    coke.

  10. Gershon
    May 17, 2017 at 6:39 am

    When Grandma Yellen drives the car into the ditch, the corporate financial media will chorus in unison: “Nobody could’ve seen it coming.”

  11. Gershon
    May 17, 2017 at 6:42 am

    How awesome would it be if corporate financial media touts and shills who pitched Ponzi stocks to the retail investor dupes could face jail time for financial malpractice?

    http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/16/trump-allegedly-asked-comey-to-consider-imprisoning-members-of-the-press.html

    • d
      May 17, 2017 at 7:47 am

      The great orange one was/s in the process of making said advisers (touts and shills) even less accountable than they currently are.

      By reversing legislation that made then place the interest of their retail customers, before their own and corporate interests.

      Don’t forget that, at election time.

  12. DK
    May 17, 2017 at 7:50 am

    There’s things you need immediately and things you can wait to recieve. Some things are just too heavy to ship economically. Home Depot stays pretty busy. Theres an argument for a mix of on-line and B&M. The retail market has been in a transitional state for some time now as on-line is raking more share every year. But growth as a whole , doesn’t seem to be happening.

    • RD Blakeslee
      May 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

      The local grocery store, drug store, gasoline station and auto repair shop remain useful to me.

  13. Frederick
    May 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Gold up twenty dollars suckers

  14. Mike Farrar
    May 17, 2017 at 9:06 am

    @ Dorco razor blades— they are great and last about 75% as long as Gillette. For thick/course facial hair get the 7 bladed razor instead of the 6 bladed model.

    • Frederick
      May 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

      7 bladed WTF I’m lucky if I get two lol but that may soon change with my metals hoard being bid as of late

    • gary
      May 17, 2017 at 9:26 am

      “… and the beast shall have a nine-bladed sword. Not three, not five, not seven, but NINE blades!”…

      LOL

      • RD Blakeslee
        May 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

        Of little (if any) interest: I wear a beard and trim it with an Oster electric shear I bought to trim a poodle, long since departed.

    • Bobber
      May 17, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Are they sturdy enough to handle the wife’s legs?

      • RD Blakeslee
        May 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        Don’t know about gary, but I’m not sturdy enough to handle the wife’s legs, if she’s not in the mood …

  15. Kreditanstalt
    May 17, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Going INTO brick-and-mortar? This trend, more than anything, smacks of desperation.

    In a world of no-real-growth there can be no additional consumer purchasing power, either. So they’re trying everything to fake it…

  16. Chris
    May 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    The move into “brick and mortar” seems to be, primarily, products you need to try to buy. A mattress, glasses, etc.
    The Amazon presence seems to be collocated with areas offering prime now service, do the retail and Prime Now support each other resulting in low incremental cost for the retail outlet.

  17. PrototypeGirl1
    May 17, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    All the mattress talk reminds me, if you wake up in the morning and your neck, shoulder, or hip hurts. You probably need a new mattress. Not having a bunch of money is no excuse, you can get a good electric air mattress with a decent topper for very little. Sleeping on air is wonderful.
    My coffee maker died yesterday, I tried to revive it with vinegar but no luck. After a very few minutes of looking at it and smelling the vinegar I hopped over to walmart and picked a new one, same as the old one 29.99. Yea walmart . Some things you just don’t want to wait for.

    • May 17, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      or you can pour coffee by hand. It gives you a lot more control, and you can make coffee the way you like it, one cup at a time, always fresh. And it’s faster than the machine. All you need is boiling water, a plastic filter cone ($5-$6), and filter paper. If you don’t mind cleaning the filter, you can skip the filter paper and get a permanent filter cone for about $5-$6.

      • alex in san jose
        May 17, 2017 at 9:54 pm

        Wolf and all – if you want the best cup of coffee with the least amount of cleaning hassle of anything, period, get a Chemex. You’ll never look back.

        • May 17, 2017 at 11:37 pm

          I like the “hassle” of making coffee. It’s a ceremony. I make coffee in many different ways. Each is different. And I love the aromas they set free.

        • d
          May 18, 2017 at 12:49 am

          “I like the “hassle” of making coffee. It’s a ceremony.”

          The “Focused Concentration” on what you are doing, performing it perfectly, closing out all the other things around you, and in your mind.

          We know where you picked that up from.

          Those who have not had the influence, frequently, can not, understand.

        • alex in san jose
          May 18, 2017 at 6:21 am

          Wolf – Look up a Chemex and see what they really are. I bet you’re thinking I’m extolling the virtues of some digital-wonder-robo-coffeepot. Nope! It’s a simple piece of glass. All the aroma and ritual, none of the cleaning hassles because when you’re done, you just gather up the filter and toss it in the trash (or toss the grounds into the garden).

        • May 18, 2017 at 7:22 am

          Sounds good.

      • PrototypeGirl1
        May 18, 2017 at 7:44 pm

        Sometimes I put a scoop in a paper filter, twist it up with a twist tie and just let it steep in the cup. That’s my emergency plan, it’ll save my solar for the toaster oven and 200 watt heater.

  18. mean chicken
    May 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    “It was old-style advertising, delivered by the Postal Service. It relied on hormones. Car ads used to be that way before they were pooh-poohed.”

    You don’t say, the very same movement that saw fit to take away juniors chemistry set and replaced it with a box of baking soda.

    aside – Uncle Sidney – Prison Philosopher says: “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?”

  19. Ed
    May 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    that picture cracks me up I was at Walmart and I was walking by their air mattress section and each box had a different picture of an extremely attractive woman posing seductively on the bed, I was about to buy five of them just to have the complete set

    • TheDona
      May 18, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Were they wearing Blue?

    • PrototypeGirl1
      May 18, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Ha, that’s funny.

Comments are closed.