Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Things Considered

I am not a shopper. Really what I mean is that I am not much of a recreational shopper. I don’t like walking the mall “just for fun”. (Surfing the Internet is a whole different story, but we won’t go there right now.) My attitude about shopping is fueled by the realization that the stores are filled with tons of stuff that nobody needs – gadgets that claim to make tasks that most of us never do easier, clothes that don’t look good on anyone, even the size 2 models, books about stupid stuff that only some delusional editor finds interesting, and still more stuff that you look at and wonder “what the heck is that”? My desire for retail therapy can most often be satisfied by cutting coupons, surveying the weekly grocery store flyers, and finding 2 liter bottles of Diet Coke on sale for 99 cents.

My tolerance for shopping has been tested and retested over the past few months as we have shopped for both the wedding and the remodeling project. I have found myself walking the aisles of stores I have never been in and shopping for things in which I never knew I had an interest. Actually, I didn’t have an interest – until now.

Have you shopped for a kitchen faucet lately? If not, here are some things to think about should you suddenly find yourself in your local home improvement store contemplating a kitchen faucet as an impulse buy.Do you want individual controls for the hot and cold water or one control for both?

  • Do you want a separate sprayer or one that pulls from the spigot?
  • Do you want one that comes with a soap dispenser?
  • Do you want stainless, brass, copper, black, chrome, white, or oil rubbed bronze?
  • Do you want to spend $50 or $500, or more?
  • We haven’t even gotten to style yet. What do you want it to actually look like? The choices seem endless and overwhelming . . . probably because they are.

And then is shopping for toilets . . .Yes, here too the choices seem endless.

  • Round or oblong?
  • Single or dual flush?
  • 14”, 15”. 16”, or 17” high?
  • Number of gallons of water per flush?
  • Self cleaning?

Oh, wait. Sorry that is not an option on toilets. I think that is on the list of considerations for ovens. In all of my recent shopping experiences, I have not seen a self cleaning toilet – and that would be so much more useful than the ambiance lighting for your shower that I have seen.

Despite the fact that self cleaning is not an option on toilets, as you can see, there are many other details that do demand thoughtful consideration. Can you imagine being the marketing agent that gets stuck with trying to persuade you to buy his toilet instead of the other guy’s? To be successful at that, you must know what the consumer is really looking for in his or her toilet. Again, how often do you consider the unique features of your commode? I realized the difficulty of this particular marketing dilemma the other day when we were indeed shopping for toilets.

We made several decisions easily. We chose bowl shapes based on the physical space in each bathroom, water usage based on our willingness to spend a little more upfront to save in the long run, and height based on, well, the fact that we are getting older and the higher the seat the less your knees snap, crackle and pop when you stand. Even narrowing things down this much, still there were many choices. It was time to read the very fine print on the couple of toilets still in the running (no pun intended) realizing that we would ultimately succumb to the power of marketing. We eventually made our selections. I must say that the “information” on the various toilets was not always useful.

On one of the toilets, we discovered that the manufacturer actually paid some marketing agency to promote their product by saying that it would flush a whole bucket of golf balls. The box had a drawing showing a bucket of golf balls being poured into the bowl. Who knew that we needed a commode that would accomplish such a fete! Wait. Who really needs to flush a basket of golf balls down their toilet? I suspect no one. And I also think that if you have a need to flush anything that even resembles a basket of golf balls you have bigger problems than any toilet can handle . . .even one that is self cleaning, if there were such a thing.

Some days I feel kind of guilty for spending so much time thinking about these things that I have never thought about, or felt the need to think about, before. Then I step back and remember that we must live in the present. And at this moment, kitchen faucets and toilets are the present. And so are wedding cakes, napkins, tuxes, and punch recipes, but the tales of shopping for these things will have to be tomorrow’s present.