Service of I Can Get It for You At Full Price

May 10th, 2021

Categories: Celebrations, Gifts, Luxury, Retail

Line at the Gucci shop-in-a-shop at Macy’s

Last fall Meghan McCarty Carino reported in marketplace.org  that according to a McKinsey & Co./LeanIn.org survey, one in four women were considering leaving the workforce. Working women juggling children and jobs have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

I wondered: Are children sure their mom wanted something extravagant this year? A hug, surprise visit or day off from daily chores would seem to be the most precious gifts. Yet on Mother’s Day eve there was a line outside the Gucci shop-in-shop at Macy’s at Herald Square. There were thousands of gifts to buy in that oversized emporium. The iconic Gucci brand isn’t known for bargains. Crucial sectors of the economy are still in upheaval in this neck of the woods.

New store on Second Avenue and 47th Street

To illustrate, pedestrians can’t miss a recent gut wrenching epidemic of small retail closings in downtown Manhattan as workers don’t seem to be returning to offices anytime soon. My heart leapt with happiness when I saw a handsome new store, Stellar Hardware and Bath, open at 900 Second Avenue in the 40s. Someone sees promise in the city!

We hear about available jobs–seasonal businesses in southern N.J., gearing up for summer, are short on employees. Some reporters use the crisis word to describe the scarcity. But salaries connected with these positions don’t allow for luxury gifts.

“Both the unemployment rate, at 6.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, were little changed in April,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 7. “Notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, other services, and local government education were partially offset by employment declines in temporary help services and in couriers and messengers.”

Topsy Turvey–right? Clearly there’s a hunger for expensive things. Kanye West’s Nike sneakers recently sold at Sotheby’s for $1.8 million and a computer file with a digital creation by Beeple sold for $69 million two months ago.

Beeple, Mike Winkelmann, is a Charleston, S.C.-based graphic designer whose costly digital creation is a nofungible token–NFT-based art. Digital art is a hot trend in the art world. In a New York Times guest essay Albert-Laszlo Barabasi wrote that NFTs “use blockchain technology to certify authenticity and proof of ownership. (Beeple’s piece was a collage of images that he had posted online every day since 2007.)”  Techterms.com describes a blockchain as “a digital record of transactions. The name comes from its structure, in which individual records, called blocks, are linked together in single list, called a chain. Blockchains are used for recording transactions made with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and have many other applications.”

Do you give, receive or expect extravagant gifts these days? Do you see value in digital art, uber luxury goods or in anyone’s sneakers?

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12 Responses to “Service of I Can Get It for You At Full Price”

  1. BC Said:

    As they say on TV, why go back to work, when one can make more at home with the government checks. Government will have to slow down those checks so folks will want to go back to work.

    People with excess money can indulge into anything they like, and look foolish. Same for the art world- the rich will spend millions on a little , old painting by a so called master.

    Regarding gifts- to me it is the thought which counts, not how much the item costs. Expect chewing gum for Christmas!

  2. Anonymous Said:

    Have to agree with BC…why go back to work if government largesse is such that you can stay home and still be comfortable?
    If people want to spend money on Gucci and digital art, that’s their business.

  3. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Hell no! I don’t need or want any gifts at all. How much stuff can one person possibly need or use. Actually for moms day and my birthday this year I asked my husband and my daughters to make a donation to Foster Parrots. It’s a parrot rescue in Rhode Island that had a devastating fire a few months ago and they’re trying to rebuild. That’s what makes me happy. Stuff doesn’t make a person happy!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    Do they still make Bazooka? Bubblegum was my favorite.

    I too hear people on newscasts who say that some make more money with unemployment checks than pay which doesn’t say much about some salaries. To get us out of this hole we might all need to pay more for fast and other restaurant food, for example, so that employers pay more than the government does. I’m in awe of people who think that they can time the end of unemployment with getting a job as in my business, pandemic or no, that would never happen! Plus I’m Pollyanna enough to take pride in a paycheck even if paltry and some of mine have been!

    I can understand spending money on an old master, as it is rare and the one I would buy would be amazing and I’d preserve it for future generations or give it to a museum where I would visit it. Prices for some contemporary works are ridiculous and their longtime value questionable.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Gift giving and receiving should be fun, not an extravagance. Giving something one knows will be enjoyed, enhances the experience. Money should not enter the equation.

    I like Nike, it’s a great brand, but I buy my size, not anyone else’s smelly pair — not for even one penny! Who’s collecting all that money for those shoes? West?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Anonymous,

    In my comment to BC I covered what I thought about accepting freebies from the government rather than working. I will add that the pandemic created special problems when childcare was unavailable and remote learning often tethered one bread-winning parent to a child’s computer, pulling him/her away from work responsibilities. There are instances where unemployment is crucial so mortgages and rents and car loans are paid so the whole country doesn’t implode.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    Why did I think of Bill and Melinda Gates when I read your last sentence, “Stuff doesn’t make a person happy.”

    I don’t think gifts should be off the table for everyone. Many need help–say a day off caring for a sick relative–or a new pair of shoes or blouse or even a bit of cash to buy themselves a treat. I was bowled over by the enthusiasm for a luxury brand with so many homeless sleeping in doorways steps away which is what inspired this post.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    According to reporter Eileen Kinsella on artnet.com, “the buyer was a sneaker investment platform called Rares.” Kanye had worn the sneakers to the Grammys.

    You are right though, yech. When I was forced to rent shoes at a bowling alley as a kid–a friend’s mother drove us there–it put me off of the sport. Being squeamish is yet one more fault.

  9. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda wrote on Facebook: Never put value in extravagant gift-giving or receiving. Way more important things in life for such significant cash outlays. And frankly I go out of my way to avoid logoed items, luxury or otherwise.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I love clothing and jewelry and ceramics made by artisans and if I had unlimited funds I’d choose things my friends and family might like while supporting the craftsperson.

    I too don’t wear logos—though I like things with my initials.

    Decades ago when brands first plunked their names on everything I remember thinking “who would pay for underpants with Bloomies printed on them?” but thousands if not millions did!

  11. Hank Goldman Said:

    Love it! There is absolutely no equality as far as the value of anything anymore.

  12. Deb Wright Said:

    This was a very thought-provoking blog. I have always wondered about people who will pay thousands of dollars for a baseball card. I personally do not give or receive extravagant gifts, but I do know a woman who purchased an eleven thousand dollar couch for her new home in Scottsdale. And, it was purple!

    I do not enjoy having “label” items. I don’t even recognize most of them. I know Gucci and Coach, but purses and shoes do not interest me–never have. I think about that eleven thousand and think it could have been given to any number of food pantries, charities, etc.

    People who fling money around on things like Kanye West’s shoes seem to be out of touch. And television has portrayed Americans having more material things than the rest of the world. It sets up a false reality.
    When I was teaching eighth grade, I was reading a chapter a day of a book the kids were really interested in; however, the family in the book had three children and one bathroom. Some of my students were horrified because how could a family of five have to take turns? I informed them that I lived in a house with one bathroom, had two teenagers, and a husband who took the train to Chicago early every morning. Somehow. it worked. Not all my students were affluent by any means, but some were and clearly didn’t grasp that much of the world lives in poverty.

    Yes, humans can have false values (according to me)! Do you want to be remembered that you have a complete set of antique dishes? Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as a decent person who cared for those who are suffering?

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