On Coupons and Lost Sales

Who the hell has time to clip and save coupons?

While I was away this summer, my dear husband neglected to water most of my plants. As a result, most of them died.

The plants in question lined a high “plant shelf” in my dining room and the tops of kitchen cabinets. They looked kind of nice up there and helped deaden the echo of our high-ceilinged kitchen/dining area. Once they’d dried to dust, the only thing left up there were the empty flower pots and decorative baskets.

Although I absolutely hate fake plants, I realized that if I wanted permanent green up there, I’d have to go with decent quality silk replacements. As an experiment, I went to Michael’s, a “craft” store that sells these things, and picked out three large, realistic-looking replacements. They weren’t cheap: they cost $9.99 each. I brought them home, stuck their pointed bases into the dirt remaining in the flower pots, arranged their leaves, and put them into position.

I stepped back. One of them — the fake spider plant — actually looked pretty darn good. The ivy didn’t look bad. The other one…well, it needed some work.

But, in general, I considered the experiment a success. I figured I’d need about five more to complete the project on top of the cabinets.

Now, there is no Michael’s in Wickenburg. And there’s no place to get quality fake plants. So phase 2 would have to wait until I was back in the valley.

I got my chance on Monday, while waiting for the helicopter mechanic to do his magic on a 100-hour inspection in Scottsdale. I rented a car and, after a very pleasant lunch at Kierland Commons, hit the road, looking for a Michael’s.

I didn’t find one. But I did find a JoAnn. JoAnn is Michael’s competitor. Same stuff.

I do need to step back and insert some opinion here. Apparently there are quite a few women out there with nothing better to do with their time than put together scrapbooks and decorate their homes for the various seasons and holidays and spend money on crafty crap that they likely throw out within a few months anyway. (After all, a home can only stand so much clutter.) These places — Michael’s and JoAnn — are filled with these women, who wander the aisles with shopping baskets, looking for ideas on how to waste their time and money.

When I go into these places, I’m on a mission. Go in, get what I need, and get out.

Part of me wishes I had the time and money to waste — believe me, I wouldn’t be wasting it in a craft shop.

Anyway, I went into JoAnn and zeroed in on the fake plant aisle. I soon found what I was looking for, but the per plant price was $15.99, which I thought was really excessive. I picked out just two Boston Ferns (which would never survive in my desert home had they been real) and brought them to the checkout counter.

I waited behind a woman who was buying fabric and Halloween junk and being quizzed by the cashier about what she was going to do with it.

“I’m making a pillow for my mother,” the customer said.

“Oh, how nice,” the cashier responded. “Mothers always like that kind of thing.”

She’d obviously never met my mother.

The woman went away and I plopped my two Boston Ferns down on the counter. The following conversation began:

Cashier: “Did you find everything you need?”

Me: “Yep.”

Cashier: “Do you have any coupons?”

Me: “Nope.”

Cashier: “Are you on our mailing list to get coupons?”

Me: “Nope.”

My short, one-word answers were definitely unnerving her, but she went on.

Cashier: “Do you want — ”

Me: “Nope. I get enough junk in the mail.”

I could tell that my rudeness — and let’s face it, I was being pretty rude — had bothered the cashier. Her script was bugging me. But she decided to retaliate.

Cashier: “You know, if you had a coupon, you could save 40% on these.”

Me: “If I went to Michael’s, I could save 40% without a coupon.”

That shut her up. She rang up my fake plants.

Cashier: “That’ll be $34.54.”

I gave that some thought as she began putting the fake greenery into a bag. Her 40% challenge had put me into an interesting position. If I paid up without the discount, I’d be agreeing that their outrageous price was fine with me and that I didn’t mind being forced to pay full price when a piece of paper could have saved me 40%. I decided that I didn’t want to be in that position.

Me: “You’re right. That’s too much money. You can keep them. I’ll go to Michael’s.”

And I walked out the door.

Yeah, I know. I can be a real bitch sometimes.

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