Saturday, July 12, 2008

Primark in the News (2)

The last time I walked past the local Primark with my son he spotted from the outside "organic cotton T-shirt £4".

I was incredulous. Here we are, organic cotton retailers struggling to procure certified organic cotton because the big players now want a piece of the cake and are coming in with their huge buying power, and we see organic cotton T-shirts at £4 at Primark.

How do they do that? How much do they (not) pay their workers to be able to afford to sell at those prices?

Today I walked past that shop again (as my local sub-post office had been forced to close I now have to take my parcels to the main office) and saw the same sign again. I meant to go in to examine the label, but somehow couldn't bring myself to do so. Maybe on the next trip.

What would Mary Portas say? Been watching her series on turning retail fashion boutiques around. How can I run a business without knowing my competition?

Here's what she has to say about Primark (Independent, 12th July 2008):

"It's when a shop is just turning the stuff over without a care for design, the environment or about selling. It just gets to me and it knackers the retail trade. I don't like it."

"I don't know what's going to happen to Primark," she says. "I don't think even the consumers know. They're a funny bunch – if you ask them what they want, they invariably don't have a clue. I do point my finger at the fashion press for helping Primark become as big as it is. All that [puts on a snivelling voice] 'Primark is the new Prada' and 'Primarni' stuff is not funny."

"What's interesting about Primark is how many middle-class people are in there, buying for their kids. I've walked through Selfridges on a busy Saturday and all you see is those brown Primark bags going up and down the escalators. So all that stuff about Primark being democratic fashion for people who can't afford anything else is b-----s."

As young children might be reading this column I've had to beep her word out. (???:-))

My son despairs, "The most common bag is the 'Primark' bag," he noted to me and his Dad, on different occasions.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

45-49? Let's face it!

Having been nudged by a customer onto Facebook -- I like to claim that I try to meet customer demand -- I had been dipping into FB gingerly being very careful about being sucked right in. You know what I mean? It can get very addictive.

But FB can also be a bit scary. Like every time I log in (which is not often) I get on the left-hand side an advert that usually headlines with "45-49?" followed by small print -- which I am still able to read without my reading glasses, thank you -- about manufacturers requiring people of that age group to test various products.

Of course a vehicle like FB requires advertising for all these fun and games to be provided 'free'. Ah, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

I really hate to think that someone has gathered so many of my details as to know what kinds of food I eat so that they could 'target' their marketing at me.

This morning we received junk mail sent to my eight-year-old son. He managed to fill in some details on a certain site without clicking the box that said 'no unsolicited mail please'.

Why did we let him do that? Because he had already been playing safely on this site but they then decided to 'do an upgrade' or whatever and needed their parents to fill in their details again in order to log in. My son decided to use his own email address.

Foolish? Maybe. But now we know the source of those junk mails. Just this morning I heard news reports about the sale of names and details on the radio. So now we know how it's done.

I've been advocating that junk mailers be required to indicate how they first got our names and details. That way I can march back to the retailer/business I had dealings with to complain first-hand. I could stop doing business with that organization. The more complaints these businesses receive, the more they become aware of this sickness that does not pay, the sooner they stop. ???

Said it too many times before but I am now quite afraid of buying from new retailers online because I am so afraid of being inundated by unsolicited junk mail and email. As I run an online business as well I am sure lots of folk would hesitate to buy from me because they are thinking exactly the same.

One of our local bookstores has -- in the last few years -- changed from Hammicks to Ottakars to something else and now it's Waterstones. The last time we were there they offered us a card for 'eco-points'. That's five points for every time we do not ask for a plastic bag. I've not asked for a plastic bag in that shop a long time before all those name changes.

Did I want their card?

No. Enough of my personal details swirling around the information soup in a slowly simmering cauldron over which we seem not to have any control.

45-49? What does FB not know?

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