Published on: December 5, 2011
Regarding the story we had the other day about how Patagonia was running ads suggesting that people actually buy less and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle, one MNB user wrote:Just to be clear, that ad was not product marketing, that ad was brand building…huge difference.
Another MNB user wrote:Regarding Patagonia’s promotion of having less… yayy!!! I made a mid-life crisis move from my large home in the Chicago suburbs to Austin TX. At that time I decided to scale back to whatever I could fit in a single moving pod, and it has changed my entire approach. Besides Austin’s influence as a community that embraces green thinking, I find that I enjoy having only a half drawer of kitchen utensils, 2 pieces of reusable Tupperware, one jacket for most occasions, only enough dish towels I can use in one week (rather than my previous stash that could have dried a zip code’s worth of dishes). At Thanksgiving, my mother was appalled that I used a knife to portion my apple rather than one of the THREE different apple gadgets she pulled from here warehouse of “simple solutions”. Point being… how many of those who struggle are in the hole financially because they think they need stuff that they don’t really need? I drive a 15 year old car (and usually take the bus) even though I could buy one outright among other cost saving, planet saving activities without being one of those people whose every move is driven by the management of their carbon footprint.
So, hang on to your servers, Patagonia.. when I do sincerely need something you sell, I’m heading your way. And I’m telling my passionately green neighbors.
I took note the other day of a story about how cities were getting rid of aging highways, and how this might reflect a new anti-car bias. Which led MNB user Brad Halverson to write:A little out of it to assume aging highways were built with blinders on or are a mistake not to repeat. In the case of our Viaduct in Seattle, built 1953, it played an important role for workers getting to industrial powers like Boeing, the shipyards and Weyerhaeuser. It served an important need in Seattle’s growth. Today the joke is more about where to be when driving on the now crumbling viaduct, so when it falls you are safer, i.e. if in left lane, leap out of your car toward the water, and hope for the best. We are soon replacing it, and the waterfront will, indeed, be beautiful in time. But don’t assume green is an overarching premise. Even Seattle voters soundly rebuked Mayor McGinns campaign against the underground tunnel and his green vision of forcing cars on to slow city streets and bicycling to work. The tunnel is coming and the rest of the masses and freight movers need to get around if we stand a chance of keeping our economy progressing. Lesson learned – being green is nice, but if it hurts the many who have no choice but to move around in cars or it hurts commerce and business growth, then practicality wins. The best solutions of the future will incorporate all of these priorities, but only in ways that are affordable and practical for the majority of taxpayers.
MNB user Elliott Olson wrote:I don’t view the ripping out of freeways anti auto. It is restoring a public space to a better use.
The Embarcadero in San Francisco is now filled with light, life and commerce. The crowds at the Ferry Building farmers market on a weekend morning are a delight to see and bring joy to the soul.
Another MNB user pointed out a mistake I made in my commentary:The Embarcadero Freeway(480) was excessively damaged during the Oct 17, 1989 quake - not 1991. I lived in The City, and my condo in Russian Hill was one block removed from the shifting landfill areas closer to the Marina. When the freeway was finally removed, wow, was the embarcadero opened up!! Wonderful.
Dopey mistake. Sorry about that.
On the subject of internet sales taxes, one reader offered:There are really two separate issues in this article, paying your fair share for infrastructure and the right to be an American business, and, creating an uneven playing field. 1) should all businesses pay the price for being American companies or doing business in America. (My answer is an emphatic yes.) 2) Secondly, successful American companies are those that create an uneven playing field through a competitive advantage made possible through innovation and creativity (compete is a verb - you need to say that more often). We shouldn’t expect to get trophies for participation, we get trophies only for being the best.
You are the first person to suggest that I say “compete is a verb” more often
Another MNB user wrote:While its always uplifting to be able to use a 10% off coupon, especially for a large purchase; the imposition of a 6% to 9% state sales tax will quickly pop that joy bubble. No wonder so many people cross state borders to shop tax-free. That is similar to driving an extra mile or two for cheaper gasoline due to less burdensome taxes.
Eliminating the sales tax benefit will not make brick and mortar stores competitive with online retailers, though it is a first step. Local stores must pass along costs for retail buildings, sales staff, maintenance, advertising, and other costs over and above local sales taxes.
Shipping fees and the lack of instant gratification seem to be the only drawbacks to online shopping. Amazon and other online retailers ship directly from the warehouse, with nominal $3-5 shipping fees. Those fees can be reduced or eliminated with membership fees. On high value items, or when bundling larger orders, there are no shipping fees at all. As long as gas remains above $3 per gallon; nominal shipping fees are not much of a deterrent to online shopping, from a customer's perspective.
Unfortunately, some customers will utilize staff expertise at brick and mortar stores to evaluate items as well as getting tactile and visual feedback about an item. Then they buy online; and there are apps for that. Scan the barcode, check the price and order. Right from the brick and mortar store.
Look for state governments to jump eagerly onto the bandwagon to tax online retailers for "fairness." Pricing disparities, in favor of online vendors, still remain. Brick and mortar stores must create such a compelling shopping experience that customers will continue to flock there. Think Apple Store...
And, from another MNB user:I’m pretty sure eBay would collapse. While I only dabble in selling there, there are “power sellers” from whom I’ve purchased items and haven’t paid a tax (shhhh don’t tell my accountant who each year asks that question from the tax form). I’ve often wonder eBay appears to be coated in Teflon when it comes to taxes, or if they are somehow making up for that when they do their business taxes? I know they collect enough fees to make one wonder if it’s worth the effort for a dabbler to sell an item. I noticed within the past year or so they’ve added a spot where you COULD charge sales tax to your buyer, but unless it’s an obscenely competitive price on an item, I think people would be more likely to go Amazon, etc. Just my two cents versus 5.5%.
MNB user Ryan Tonies wrote:I have to agree with you on many levels regarding your views on the ICSC’s argument, however I must contend online retailers that do not collect sales tax (i.e. Amazon.com) do make a difference on certain purchases from my standpoint. Certainly on high ticket items such as HDTV’s, computers, Blu-Ray players, etc.
Just last night my wife and I went to Best Buy to look at tablet PC’s and wanted to actually operate a few of them and see the physical dimensions before inevitably purchasing one from Amazon. I felt somewhat bad because the 17-year-old salesperson (I’m assuming he was still in high school!) at Best Buy was extremely knowledgeable, polite, and helpful, but we knew that we would inevitably return home and buy it on Amazon and have it in two days on our doorstep with our Amazon Prime membership.
Before going to Best Buy, I contemplated buying the tablet directly from the manufacturer. I chatted online with one of their sales reps and asked if I would have to pay Wisconsin sales tax even though this was an online site and the CSR indicated that I would not only have to pay sales tax, but shipping to boot. I informed them that I would be buying their product from Amazon.com for less (no sales tax) and free shipping! That’s got to be the dagger for a lot of retailers.
On another subject, an MNB user wrote:When I bought my iPad 2, I thought my main use would be iBooks. I have since come to use my iPad almost like a computer. It’s my go to for email and internet surfing via Safari. I use it as an iPod. I absolutely love the Notebook feature, especially when traveling. I just put all my flight numbers, hotel/car rental confirmation numbers, etc on a page and just open to that when I need the information. It’s now my calendar/date book. I use it as a Tivo for a few shows I want to watch on my time (w my ABC app). On and on and on. But, the one feature I hate is iBooks. As such, I don’t use it at all. I quickly found I could download the Kindle app, and that is what I use for 100% of my electronic reading. Glad to hear I’m not alone in that respect.
Responding to the news that Bobby Valentine is going to Boston to manage the Red Sox, MNB user Kathleen Whelan wrote:It's time to dig out my "Certified Yankees Hater" Red Sox T-Shirt again!! I think even my rabid National League fan parents (Brooklyn Dodgers) will smile down from Ebbetts Field in Heaven!
But MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:As far as I’m concerned Boston can have him, I witnessed his brand of baseball in Texas for way too long, long on hitting, short on pitching and defense. I’m not sure if he has the best interests of the team at heart, or strictly his own, I know it Texas, it seemed to be the latter. The bright side is that I won’t have to listen to him do any more broadcasting of games.
I will respectfully disagree with you on the notion that Valentine has only his own interests at heart.
One can easily challenge some of his baseball decision-making, but Valentine is a native of Stamford, CT, just one town over from where I live, and his reputation is as a person who is charitable to a fault, that he sometimes takes too much charity work on and it can affect his baseball work. That was especially true in the aftermath of 9/11; he was managing the Mets at the time time, and his charity work was tireless. I have a lot of respect for Valentine as a person ... and I also happen to think that he’ll be good for the Red Sox.