koralleen (koralleen) wrote,


Would you guess that the last person with whom I discussed my underwear was scooterbird? You would be correct. He seemed to think that women were incapable of not buying underwear, a notion that I'd not run across before. I have a hard time saying no to kids selling crap for school at my door, but none has ever offered me underwear. If you're not a kid at my door, I have no problem refusing your wares. So my underwear collection has experienced a bit of attrition over the years but no additions.

The most recent loss left me with five pairs, however, and that is how I learned that six is the magic number when it comes to managing underpants. I started thinking about buying a new pair. Clothing stores, however, seem to think that $5 is an exciting SALE price for underpants--and these are not the sturdy garments to which I have become accustomed, either. I kept looking.

In The Wal-Mart Effect, Charles Fishman explains that even if you never shop at Wal-Mart its influence will reach you. He could be right; I don't and it has. In fact, my underwear purchase is discussed in the same book. The guy who headed the creation of the P&G (which owns Sara Lee, which owns Hanes) Wal-Mart team was analyzing the reason for the millions of dollars in new sales following their new relationship as supplier to Wal-Mart. He concluded that a large part of it was consumers' "increased wardrobe inventory." People bought underwear because the price was good, even when they didn't need more underwear. Fishman calls it "consumption that answers no need at all."

Imagine my chagrin after reading this book (it is not an anti-Wal-Mart diatribe, either, but thoughtful and fascinating reporting) to be standing in front of a Hanes display at Meijer. Nine pairs for $7.99. Nine! It would practically triple my inventory. I could only stand there and think about it for so long. Meijer is open 24/7 but Victoria's patience has its limits. I caved and bought the underwear. At least it gave me something to write about.

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