Shoot First

I apologize for any emotion that drifted into this blog again. There are other venues for that, and I've been good about that up until now. So, my appy-polly-loggies, to quote my dear droog.

I started reading some Rollins last night. Trying to get myself centered, and it may or may not work. I have become convinced, however, that I have to wipe out some stress. I don't know what that will mean, however, but like pornography, I'll know when I see it.

We are just days away from Black Friday. The business news coverage on it is shaky at best. Nobody wants to commit to an answer on consumer spending because they are getting mixed signals (that's how it should be). I did see some stats saying less people say they are going to spend less than they did last year. Of course, last year a lot of people spent rock bottom so there really is no way to spend less, meaning those stats could be off quite a bit.

One friend of mine remarked that she was surprised not to hear anything about terrorism with Black Friday. I reminded her that they don't want to scare the mindless consumers when they are supposed to have only one thing on their minds (spend). So retailers have their fingers crossed that Al Qaeda and Mother Nature co-operate. Good luck. I hope all works out well for everyone and everyone sticks to their prescribed roles so that the system continues to operate smoothly and everyone gets stinkin' rich.

Some have said I'm obsessed with Black Friday. Not true. I am, however, interested in consumerism, especially of the blind quality. It is something I think is worth studying. I don't care that people show up at the door at 2 a.m. (I think it's dumb but it has no bearing on my life). I don't care if they are getting cheap televisions to fill some void in their lives. I care about the mindset. I want to know what drives them. I want to know how that is used to herd them, to control them. That stuff is worthy of examination.

I'm also interested in what it does to our economy. (On a related note, CA now has to borrow money from the Feds in order to keep UIB going. It needs something like $7.4 billion just to keep it running through December. All of you CA unemployed people who are still lucky enough to be collecting a check should be keeping an eye on this. And as for the rest of the country ... coming soon to an unemployment office near you!) I am interested in what it does to "consumer confidence," which, if you look at how that is generated, is far from an accurate count of anything but is given so much power.

Some people care about the latest Nic Cage movie. Some people care about the massacre in the Philippines. One of the things I care about is this. At least I care about something, right?

Obama is set to make an announcement about troop additions in Afghanistan. This announcement could come next Tuesday (timed as to not disrupt the shopping patterns over Black Friday, I'm sure). The Nobel Peace Prize recipient is in a bit of an ironic pickle, especially since that award was given with a look to the future. What, oh what, is a president to do? Increase the troops? Pull out? Keep things status quo? My guess is that he'll increase the troops, but not as many as is recommended. He is, after all, a man who excels at the compromise. Pleasing everyone and no one at all ...

I've finished the formatting on the manuscript, isolating the problem. If I can get this published, get a movie deal (not necessary, as Hollywood would only fuck it up), make enough to quit my job and continue my goals, I'll be happy. Being the realist for now, however, I realize this is going to be a tough sell because "depressing" doesn't sell. Since most of the country is weepy, they want uplifting. They want Hugh Grant and John Cusack stories. They don't want Sid Haig wearing some girl's tits. (You can kind of get an idea of what kind of manuscript it is from that line.)

I'm watching a commercial for I Got Clocked. If you haven't seen this, the company puts a picture of you or a loved one (even pets!) on a clock and your arms indicate the time. $50 for such shit. Anyway, the commercial tries to be "racy." "We got clocked on our wedding night!" "I clocked my dog!" (She must be from Humboldt.) It turns out being cheesy instead. This is the kind of thing that interests me. This would actually not be all that hard to make on your own, and you could give it a better name. Instead, a crappy ass commercial makes a product I'm sure some people would want seem cheap. ("I got clocked up the ass in prison!" Okay, they don't actually use that one, but I was hoping.)

More writing tonight if I'm up to it. Having not really written for a few days, I feel a need to get a few posts done. Get your sleep. In days we shop ... but tonight we murder


Nikki said...

I was thinking about BF today at work and decided that, in a rotten economy, it needs a complete overhaul. In the past, when we were all credit-card wealthy (or just plain well-off), BF was a good way to kick off the season. A few awesome sales on that one day to get everyone into the spirit. After that, there were little sales here and there, but people were in the spending mood so it wasn't necessary to go all out.

These last few years, we're all broke. Black Friday can be useful for those who are looking for a great deal, but I think the fact that we're broke adds to the stress. People feel like if they don't get that deal, they wont get another shot, and they wont have enough to buy that most-wished for gift. It adds to the type of environment that got that man crushed.

It would make more sense from a marketing stand-point to hold several mini-BF sales throughout the season in addition to the big one. And not those piddly 10% off sales, but real deals that pull people in all season long. That way you not only keep a steady flow of customers, but you also attract people like me who are just plain terrified of the BF crowds.

I think a large part of the problem with the economy is that malls and stores are making very poor marketing and PR decisions with a snowball effect. Cutting advertising completely, raising rent so high that the tenant leaves and no one else comes in, eliminating customer service, these are things that I've seen at my local mall and it has damaged them almost to the point of no return. Those poor decisions not only lost tenants, but cost people jobs, which affects the entire area.

BF is important to retailers. It is the day that's supposed to get them into the black for the season. I'm in the red. I'm down 30% from last year, primarily because of a poor advertising decision on someone else's part. I know you think it is unwise to spend when the economy is so bleak, but the economy will remain bleak if people don't spend. If I do well on BF and get out of the red, I can get my girls more hours, which gives them more money to spend elsewhere.

I lost my train of thought. I hope I made my point somewhere in there. I really need to put as much focus on my own damn blog as I do on commenting on yours. You are a thought-provoking man, it's one of your best qualities. At least you'll never let my mind stagnate.

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

That is awesome, and it brings up a great point: spending when the economy is tanked.

Consumer spending drives roughly %70 of the economy. %70! That's an insane amount, which is why "consumer confidence" is given so much credence. Unfortunately, to spend the money, people need the money, and not enough places are hiring. Even the retail stores that used to hire seasonal help to deal with Black Friday have cut back. People are wisely choosing to avoid credit cards as much as possible, but they are also avoiding cash.

So what to do?

You know all too well that the Internet has changed the playing field and retailers still haven't caught up. Some retailers who enjoy a decent web presence are doing okay, but overall, the bricks and mortar stores are dying a slow death. Malls are a perfect example of this. They haven't altered their business plans, and it shows.

Noam Chomsky, a man I greatly respect, has often said there are some kinds of debt that it's not bad for a person to get into. This would be for something like school or buying a home.

I believe this can also apply to businesses.

The problem is, however, most businesses are focused on the short term (and that laser-like focus has now forced them to only be able to function in the short term). There are no long term plans. There is only "How do we make it one more year?" That is a recipe for failure.

The credit card companies, and banks are slow to loan money to businesses now. Businesses therefore can't hire more people. If people don't have jobs, they don't have money. Consumers are told to spend and to have faith that the economy is coming back. Businesses are being told the economy is bouncing back, but are not being forced to hire. And the banks and credit card companies (many of whom who have benefited from tax payer bailouts) are not being routinely forced to loan more money. Once again the burden has been put on the consumer, but one thing I noticed is that this time the consumer doesn't seem to be falling for it as easily.

This fix ain't coming from the bottom this time. It has to come from the top. Anything else is doomed to fail ... unless the bottom totally shifts the paradigm to something that leaves out those decision makers and gate keepers.

Jesus, and this makes my next post look like a day at the zoo ...

Anonymous said...

Well, again, the real sales happen after Black Friday.

Cyber Monday is now a big deal.

The day after X-Mas is still huge. Does that day count for final fiscal stats of 2009? I really don't know.

And let's not forget Black History Month in February.

The interweb has changed things.

A mobile device I was drooling over at Verizon yesterday would cost me $200+ out the door. Walmart - Save money. Live better (unless you get trampled to death at one of our stores), has the phone on their website for $30+ shipping. Crazy!

Chomsky! I saw Chomsky speak in Oakland on October 3, 2009. There were literally people walking around the theatre, before and after his talk, with buckets, asking for check and cash donations. You could tell Chomsky was not at all happy with this. He literally walked behind the stage curtain when the mc repeatedly asked us (the audience) for donations. I seriously felt like I was in a church service.

Doug, if you're not going to be out and about on Black Friday, I need your car so I can drive to Best Buy in Santa Rosa. They open at 5AM. I must get my hands on a PS3 Uncharted 2 bundle pack!


-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

You lucky bastard. I know you said you were going to see Chomsky. Who will take his place once he dies? Jesus.

Cyber Monday is a huge deal. I know we'll see news items on this.

Nikki said...

I have yet to find a really great deal on Cyber Monday. It seems geared towards those looking for electronics and computer equipment. Which is fine, but most of my Christmas shopping revolves around a 4 year old. Amazon has great toy sales throughout the season, so I wait for those.

As for other sales throughout the season, in my area they don't compare to the BF discounts. Maybe my expectations are too high, as I don't consider anything below 30-40% off a "good sale."

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

I also like Tit for Tat Tuesday (free tattoo if you show your tit), Way Cheap Wednesday (self explanatory), Thirsty Thursday (drinks half off), and Workout Weekends (gym memberships are at a hugely reduced rate).

Nikki said...

I was going to comment on "Tit for Tat Tuesday," but it would be horribly inappropriate for what is clearly a "family" blog. LOL.