Why are you buying that thing at that price?
I dunno about you, but when I was a grade-schooler in theses United States, I used to always be really excited about Valentine’s Day, because, first and foremost, you were gonna get candy from all your classmates, because, first and foremost, you were required to bring candy for each of your classmates.
And now that I’m typing this (after having chewed on it for the past day or two), I’m realizing how economically unfair this practice is for public school children. I wonder how many of my fellow classmates’ parents struggled to buy all that shitty candy for us to consume, mindlessly, for some arbitrary reason. Ugh.
Nevertheless, my point is that those little heart-shaped Necco wafers used to be awesome: the print text was deep, colorful, legible. They were my favorite part of the “holiday.”
I bought a box the other day of the “Original” Spangler Candy Co. Sweethearts version at 2 for $1 (before taxes, duh).
What a crock of shitty shit are they! Most of the hearts were misshapen, half were blank, half of those with text were illegible, and there is no longer a deep imprint of the text on the ones that manage to even have a smudge of a shit-stain on them. In essence, one imagines that this is the “price floor” for cheap, heart-shaped candies, etc.
So, the next day, I bought a box of SweeTarts “conversation hearts” brought to us by Ferrara Candy Co. at 5 for $5 (before taxes, let’s assume, always). The quality is incomparable. Not only is each candy the shape of a heart, each heart-shaped candy has very legible text stamped into it. The text lacks colored ink, but they are fabulous. And they taste just like SweeTarts, as opposed to shitty Necco.
My point is that paying double the “price floor” more than doubled my customer satisfaction on a particularly cheap item.
What happens, then, when we extrapolate this to, say, wireless earbuds?
I recently purchased my first pair of wireless earbuds back in December 2022 (yes, I know, I’m not behind the times, I’m thrifty and don’t replace “tech” until it literally doesn’t work anymore). When partaking in contemporary consumerism, the first thing I do is I check Walmart (either in-store or online). I check Walmart to find the “price floor” for an item.
Why Walmart? Because Walmart is not like Amazon. They are not the same kind of company, despite how it seems like both companies sell stuff for cheap. Do not compare them. What Walmart does that Amazon does not is that Walmart “curates” its sellers. You cannot just go on Walmart and start peddling your wares. Walmart is a legitimate company that has relationships up and down the supply chain in order to run and operate its daily business, which is to provide GOOD consumer goods to consumers at the cheapest price.
*An Exploitation Interlude*
If you live in a “rich” nation, there is no escaping exploitation. Our very existence is propped up by the exploitation of human beings around the world. All of us participate, and there is no way out, for the time being. This is currently not about the exploitative nature of the goods we receive as contemporary “rich” consumers. Globalization created this exploitative monster, led first and foremost by White Colonialism, the mindset that the world is theirs to plunder. This is not about that, at this time.
My point is to simply purchase things at an ethical price point, not too cheap (no worker should have to give their life for your shoes) and not too expensive (the rich shouldn’t get richer by doing nothing), aka the price where Fat Suits profit as little as possible off the laborers they exploit.
Nobody at Amazon is deciding which products are “good” or “bad.” Consumers rate products (like they can for Walmart products), but Walmart, the corporate entity itself, determines whether or not a product is good enough to sell to us, the consumers. What this means, then, is that when you see a pair of wireless earbuds at Walmart that costs $10, you can be assured that they are GOOD, not necessarily really good or very good, just good. You pay $10, you’ll pretty much get what you’d expect, a working pair of wireless earbuds, nothing more nothing less.
Go to Amazon and do the same thing. You’ll be bombarded with so many options, and the “floor” might be even lower than $10. Maybe you find a six-dollar pair, but when you get them, they’re not even real earbuds. This will not happen to you at Walmart.
Thus, when considering what to actually buy, once I know what the “price floor” is, as determined by the lowest price found at Walmart, I will typically spend whatever is double the “price floor.” So, in the case of the earbuds, the floor is $10, so I bought a pair that cost $25. I call this price the “ethical range.”
The “ethical range” (double the price of the “price floor”), to me, represents a price point wherein the making of the product is slightly less exploitative (there is no contemporary consumerism without exploitation, FACT, so the goal is to mitigate until systemic change arrives). I do not like to pay the “price floor,” because I KNOW that everyone was exploited along that chain. The “ethical range” can sometimes mean that the exploitation was slightly less damaging.
When you double the “ethical range,” in my opinion, you’ve reached the “luxury price,” which means that if I were to buy a $50 pair of earbuds, I would understand this purchase to be that of a status symbol. If I were to spend any more than $50, I’m literally flushing money down the toilet and lining the pockets of someone who is making an enormous profit on a product that costs them no more than about $10 to make.
Apply this to a pair of sneakers and $100 is the “luxury price.”
Apply this to airline tickets. If Southwest is the floor, the ticket price that’s double a Southwest flight OUGHT TO BE a markedly improved experience.
Obviously, “luxury” means different things to different people, but I will never understand the Economy passenger wearing $300 headphones, sitting in the back of the plane where his seat can’t move back. Who wants to be that guy? What is that guy trying to prove?, that he’s rich, but he just didn’t feel like paying for First-Class, but “Like you can tell, guys, that I am rich, cause look at my headphones.”
I prefer to be the First-Class passenger with $25 earbuds, cause what the fuck do I need to prove to anyone?
Remember the candies? They represent what you get by paying double the “price floor.” And I’m arguing that this consumer mentality can be applied to most everyday consumer products. This consumer mentality is the one I use when making most of my everyday consumer decisions, and not only does it save me a lot of money, it saves me a lot of heartache and headache.
In short, unless you’re a fucking billionaire, you must choose your luxury and stick to the basics for everything else in your life. If you don’t choose your luxury and decide, instead, to overextend yourself, live on credit and get that Designer Bag, you’ll be that hamster on that wheel, forever.
Nice bag, though.