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Re: Brave New Wal-Mart



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Oddly, my local Wal-Mart sells “locally grown” produce (in a county famous for its tomatoes & other truck farm crops).   Cheaper than the local farm stands and far cheaper than local (regional chain) supermarkets. A shopping dilemma for the elitists. 

I’m reminded of this hilarious passage in a classic 2002 Caitlin Flanagan essay in The Atlantic, reviewing Martha Inc., by Christopher Byron:

What she gave the retailer [Kmart]—and what any more competent outfit ought to have been able to turn into a gold mine—was a line of products called Martha Stewart Everyday, which was founded on a simple principle: not that Betty Friedan has left all of womankind hungering for pastels but, rather, that cheap things don’t have to be ugly. For dime-store prices she came up with some attractive merchandise, decorated with a restraint not often seen in discount items, that women (and, in not insignificant numbers, gay men) loved buying. Shortly after Kmart announced its financial woes, the New York Observer ran a Simon Doonan column titled “Domestic Slaves of New York Confess Dependency on Kmartha,” in which he reported panic buying of Martha Stewart Everyday ware and said that “these middle-class groovers are not slumming for a hit of reverse chic: They are sincerely appreciative of the amazing value and quality that Martha offers.” Typical of the line is a very pretty white eyelet shower curtain with a scalloped hem, a product with which I am intimately familiar, because it is hanging in my bathroom. And typical of Byron’s inability to understand these products or their appeal is his characterization of Stewart as a control freak “who turned up at every meeting, determined to elbow and nudge her way into every decision made in her name … all the way down to demanding to know the thread-count per square inch in sheets and towels sold under her name.” It’s a foolish remark, because, of course, the only really important thing about sheets is their thread count. He later notes snidely that reporters at a publicity event for Stewart’s linens thought the patterns were lovely but “once [they] touched the sheets they were reminded where they came from,” because “they weren’t as soft as [Ralph] Lauren’s or Calvin Klein’s.” Why? Because the thread count was too low, you idiot.


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