How is this legal? We should get this monopoly broken up.
I have contacted my senators.
Musings and chronicles on life, work, film, culture, politics, etc.
08 Feb 2017 2 Comments
How is this legal? We should get this monopoly broken up.
I have contacted my senators.
09 Nov 2015 1 Comment
While working on a group project for my Digital Library class, I’ve stumbled across Miami University’s Flickr Commons collection of Victorian Trade Cards. Trade cards were first used in France and England in the 17th century to distribute to customers. They became more elaborate in time and later evolved to collectibles. The first baseball trading cards were actually trade cards made by tobacco companies.
Miami University has shared over 1,000 trade card images on Flickr Commons.
21 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
by Kenneth Koch
Leo bends over his desk
Gazing at a memorandum
While Stuart stands beside him
With a smile, saying,
“Leo, the order for those desks
Came in today
From Youngstown Needle and Thread!”
C. Loth Inc., there you are
Like Balboa the conqueror
Of those who want to buy office furniture
Or bar fixtures
In nineteen forty in Cincinnati, Ohio!
Secretaries pound out
Invoices on antique typewriters—
And fingernail biters.
I am sitting on a desk
Looking at my daddy
Who is proud of but feels unsure about
Some aspects of his little laddie.
I will go on to explore
Deep and/or nonsensical themes
While my father’s on the dark hardwood floor
Hit by a couple of Ohio sunbeams.
Kenny, he says, some day you’ll work in the store.
But I felt “never more” or “never ever”
Harvard was far away
World War Two was distant
Psychoanalysis was extremely expensive
All of these saved me from you.
C. Loth you made my father happy
I saw his face shining
He laughed a lot, working in you
He said to Miss Ritter
“Ritt, this is my boy, Kenny!”
“Hello there Kenny,” she said
My heart in an uproar
I loved you but couldn’t think
Of staying with you
I can see the virtues now
That could come from being in you
A sense of balance
Compromise and acceptance—
Not isolated moments of brilliance
Like a girl without a shoe,
But someone that you
Care for every day—
Need for customers and the economy
Don’t go away.
There were little pamphlets
Distributed in you
About success in business
Each about eight to twelve pages long
One whole series of them
All ended with the words
“P.S. He got the job”
One a story about a boy who said,
“I swept up the street, Sir,
Before you got up.” Or
“There were five hundred extra catalogues
So I took them to people in the city who have a dog”—
P.S. He got the job.
I didn’t get the job
I didn’t think that I could do the job
I thought I might go crazy in the job
Staying in you
You whom I could love
But not be part of
The secretaries clicked
Their Smith Coronas closed at five p.m.
And took the streetcars to Kentucky then
And I left too.
04 May 2014 1 Comment
in book review, books, Chicago, commerce, culture Tags: 19th Century, 20th century, business, Chicago history, commerce, department stores, innovation, management, Marshall Field, Retail, shopping, State Street
I thought I knew most of what there was to know about Marshall Field’s the still beloved department store that started in Chicago, but I learned a lot more about how the business started, who Field’s partners were, how big their whole sale business was and how subsequent CEO’s like John G. Shedd, of aquarium fame, behaved at the helm. Seems every descendant of a Chicagoan knows that “the customer is always right” and “give the lady what she wants’ were first said by Marshall Field and we know the various explanations for the naming of Frango mints, but there’s still a lot we don’t know and Gayle Soucek enlightens readers on all aspects of Fields in a pleasant breezy style. It’s a quick read and pleasant till we come to the end when evil Macy’s takes over the store and changes the name.
Field was a good man, and something of a straight arrow. He held true to his credit terms — even after the Chicago Fire in 1871 when creditors wrote him offering to change the terms. He came from Puritan roots and stayed true to them. (His son did not and I for one believe Junior was shot at the Everleigh Club, another interesting Chicago establishment.) The man was a genius with incredible foresight and respect for people. I wish I could have been in the store when it had a library, offered information (to provide tourist information, ship times, railway routes, etc.) and accommodation bureaus (which booked theater tickets,made sleeping car arrangements, checked bags, offered stenographer services, and more). Services didn’t stop there. One anecdote tells how a man told a clerk he was “mourning the accidental estrangement of his brother, who had traveled to Europe and lost contact. The word went out to Field’s foreign buying offices, and in a short amount of time the wayward sibling was located.”
The book mentions Harry Selfridge, the brash man, who worked his way up to partner, a position Field’s was surprise Selfridge had the audacity to ask for (Field’s planned to offer it and was just a more reserved man). It mentions Selfridge as originating the bargain basement and later buying his own store, where he always kept a portrait of Marshall Field in his office. So much of Selfridge’s store is an homage to Field, which is why the book connects with the PBS program.
The book ends with an appendix of famous Field’s recipes.
I still can’t stomach that and haven’t made a purchase in Macy’s since they took over. Marshall Field’s, State Street, was a store you could love in a way current stores just aren’t. We’ve got smart phones so we can make our own travel arrangements or notes on the fly and we can shop online or in person in countless stores, but this personal touch is largely gone or on the way out.
17 Feb 2012 2 Comments
in books, China, commerce, customer service Tags: business, China, economics, export, factories, global economy, greed, import, narrative, nonfiction, Paul Midland, quality erosion, quality fade, quality manipulation, slip shod, trade
Peter Midland studied Chinese language and history in college before moving to China. After a few years there he returned to the US to get his MBA at Wharton. While many of his peers went into finance, Midland took the path not taken and headed for Guangzhou to consult for US companies keen to find a manufacturer in China.Poorly Made in China chronicles Midland’s experiences helping US companies navigate these uncertain, often turbulent waters. It’s an engaging must-read for business people and consumers. It’ll make you think differently about China and Chinese goods.
I learned so much from this book that begins with an unforgettable anecdote. Midland is outside with a Chinese client and the industrial stench is unbearable. Reflexively, he exclaims in Chinese, “It stinks.” Calmly, the Chinese man exhales from his cigarette and slowly responds. “I don’t get you foreigners. To me this smells like money.”
Well, right, but the N.Y. Times reported that as many as 700,000 Chinese each year die prematurely due to pollution. So it also smells like death.
I learned new terms like quality fade, quality erosion and quality manipulation, that are all rather self-explanatory, but scary that it’s actually a business tactic in China. Dealings with a shampoo and body wash importer reveal how this works. The first order or so that Midland’s client made were fine. All according to spec. Then, gradually, things changed. The shampoo’s ingredients were modified little by little till eventually, there was a problem because the shampoo would freeze when it got a bit cold.
As time went on the molds for the plastic bottles got thinner and thinner, till when squeezed they broke releasing the shampoo all over. The cardboard for the shipment got cheaper and cheaper till it would break in transit. With the shoddy bottles this could lead to a major mess. Retailers like Walgreen’s and CVS sure wouldn’t tolerate much of these hassles so the importer is sure to lose orders. Yet the factory management couldn’t see that the poor quality might effect their own business.
Once Midland went to tour a factory and everything seemed nice. Clean environment, busy bee workers. A few were rather clumsy like they were very new to the job. When Midland asked a few questions he was whisked out. Then they had him waiting. When he got bored he got up and walked around. Through the window he saw that the factory was completely empty. He’d asked about breaks and this wasn’t a break time. When the woman in charge saw him looking out the window, she freaked. It turned out that this was a big charade and that many new factories have showplace factories for the foreign clients. Some old ones do this too and the foreigners never see the real factory.
Every chapter is engaging and revealing. You’ll laugh, cry and think twice about buying so much from China. Interestingly, Midland points out how China is not learning to value quality as Japan and Korea did when they were at this stage of development. Something to ponder.
After working for a US community college in Guangzhou, I could see so many parallels. Chilling parallels.
N.B. As my colleagues and I settle into China, note that two of us have broken toilets. We’re in newly renovated apartments and the plumbing just isn’t up to par. Today I had an agreement with my colleague that I could use her bathroom if need be. I’m happy to report that a plumber came today, but this is an example of the low quality of manufactured goods. It’s not just the items that are imported. It’s pervasive.