Passing on Traits – The Good and the Bad

I had a fascinating experience recently when I introduced my five year old son to online role-playing games, specifically World of Warcraft. For the uninitiated, World of Warcraft is an online, Dungeons and Dragons, sword and sorcery type of game in which you play a character who can be human, dwarf, elf, etc. Since there are other players online at the same time as you, you can chat and form groups to fight monsters.
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Beware of Walmart’s Back to School lists

Apparently Walmart (or at least Kelby Carr’s local Walmart) is providing back to school shopping lists that not only leave out items that the schools suggest (one can only assume they don’t stock them) but also include items that the school banned. Caveat emptor, for sure.

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The Gap doesn’t get it

I was listening to yesterday’s podcast of Marketplace this morning. They mentioned in the story “Narrowing The Gap” that The Gap’s sales have declined for over fifteen straight quarters. No surprise to me.

I’ve been buying clothes at The Gap for about twenty years. I like the classic, slightly preppy look, which I used to be able to find there and at J. Crew. I’d be willing to bet that at least half of my wardrobe used to be from there.

But somewhere along the way we parted company. I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint when that was. It was about the time that The Gap decided to concentrate on clothing young, thin bodies, and I decided that I was too old to be showing my bare midriff.

I was in a Gap store a few years ago, browsing near another woman about my age. Neither one of us was what you would call overweight, but we weren’t stick thin. We each looked through a few racks and ultimately glanced around, shrugging, at the same time. We caught each other’s eye. I said, “Well, there’s nothing here for me.” She burst out laughing and said, “I know what you mean. I don’t think we’re their target market.”

A few months later I heard that The Gap was going to start making clothes for older women again. I said “Hallelujah” and waited eagerly for their collections to start moving back in my direction.

It didn’t really happen. Sure, they started making more tailored shirts. But they continued to focus on low and ultra low waisted pants. I can’t wear those, for crying out loud! Even before having my son, I felt that my midriff was no longer tight enough to be displayed. After having him, forget it. And how do you go to work with a bared midriff? Not where I work, that’s for sure. Even young, thin women in their twenties are unlikely to work somewhere that allows it.

And hello – baby boomers? The fastest growing segment of the population, right? Ignore them at your peril, retailers.

What’s especially weird is that The Gap is going for youngsters in complete defiance of what you would think is part of their strategy. They have Gap Baby and Gap Kids, right? So who do they think are buying those clothes? Parents and grandparents. Well, since you have them in the store already, shouldn’t you have some clothes that they might want to buy? Yes, I know that their clothes for men and women are targeted towards teenagers, and they’re the hot market, but let’s get real. Teenagers have those bodies for maybe ten, fifteen years. Adults have their post-perfect bodies for a lot longer.

What’s really ironic is that The Gap’s mission statement says that they want to “make it easy for you to express your personal style throughout your life.” Sure, as long as your life ends at thirty.

So now, according to the Marketplace story, they’re going to return to their roots this year – modern basics. All I can say is, if you don’t change over at least half of your bottoms to items that hit the natural waist instead of the hipbones, you can count me, and many other women, out of your stores.

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Nightmare Zen

Lawrence told me this morning about a nightmare he had last night about Transformers coming to his school and killing him and his friends. He paused and added, “But I’m trying to move past it.”

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“We’re rich!”

I was waiting in Lawrence’s room tonight, as he was supposed to go get his favorite stuffed animals, Monkey and Blue, when I heard him say, “We’re rich!” It took a few seconds for me to realize what in the world he was talking about. I had just brought out from the garage the gold-plated silverware that I inherited from my grandparents. I guess to Lawrence, it looked like pirate treasure. He said, “We’re rich, all of us! You and me and Daddy.” I explained to him that it was really just “painted” with gold, but didn’t belabor the point, so he could pretend to himself that we had struck it rich.

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