Thursday, December 4, 2008

Evidence That No Crisis Exists

Downtown Bellevue is residue from the boom years of the 1990's and early 2000's, one of the 365-day Christmas towns that have taken over American suburbia. It lies an easy drive across the lake from Seattle, WA.

Forgetting what day it was, I trekked over to Bellevue on the Friday after Thanksgiving to see a few of John Grade's creations. While looking for coffee, I came across "The Container Store." The Container Store uses 3200 square feet of space to sell containers. The place is full of them. In fact, their primary product appears to be a large red and green plastic box, selling for $49.99, advertised as storage for Christmas decorations.

Now, back when people like Henry Paulson were telling us that the economy is strong, most of us stored our Christmas stuff in medium to large cardboard boxes. Those boxes were free.

If this store's marketing people are correct, and they actually sell hundreds, thousands of red-green monstrosities, then we have pretty strong evidence that we are going to be just fine.

Think about it. You buy food. You buy some shelter. You pay the heating bill. You down 3 or 4 chai lattes per day. Christmas time comes around so you buy some nice things for friends and family. After all that you have $50 left over to buy a container.

That last paragraph certainly doesn't apply to everybody, but our society has found it worthwhile to devote 3200 square feet of prime retail space to a container store. This is not something one expects to see in a depressionary world.

Of course, I call this bit of data evidence, not proof. Maybe hard times and container stores can coexist. Maybe, just maybe, our economic priorities are a little hard for me to grasp.

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