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December 09, 2008

Final sale? Shminal shmale! And, an aesthetic manifesto!

December 9. Day 162.

The scene at Empire Beauty Supply in La Jolla at 3:30 on a sunny Tuesday:

Woman in a snappy suit and a beautiful knotted strand of pearls has a few items on the counter. She's looking in her purse for a frequent buyer card, so she can collect another stamp. Then, she exclaims, "You know what? I'm not going to get these. I can't find my card, and frankly, I've seen these products for less at other stores. I don't need them now. Sorry to have wasted your time."
And leaves.

She's not at all reproachful or rude. Simply, states the fact that she's not willing to shell out the extra bucks, and she's sorry to have imposed. Buh-bye.

After she leaves, I ask if sales have been slow lately. There are good days and bad, the cashier replies, but overall -- yes, things have slowed down considerably.

Well... I'm kind of hoping this economy will lead to a new aesthetic. I've heard theories about hemlines adjusting to stock prices and read about "recessionista" fashion -- codeword for pleather, according to the NYT.

But what about a simpler, less self-conscious or -- no offense -- offensive look? Celebrating the natural? Opting for grey hair in the salon chair? Wrinkles over restylane? Verity and clarity over vulgarity? (As long as people still invest in deodorant and steer clear of grunge. Just think Paris, not Paris. These examples are from Easy Fashion, Creole in DC, and Facehunter, top to bottom. At the same time, I realize even a natural or "romantically undone" look can cost big bucks... just ask Marcel, that hairgod who made me look almost the same, yet so much better, for 130 euros, that year in France...)

Even as I praise natural and affordable beauty to you, resplendent reader, I confess that I'm as much a slave to, er, facades as the next hypocrite. I shelled out $21 for a new skincare item.

But when I got to my car, it occurred to me to check a few reviews online. It was immediately apparent I made the wrong choice! Terrible reviews. Didn't seem at all like a good match.
Empire has a "final purchase" policy, which they reminded me of with a red stamp on my receipt. And especially these days, I doubted they'd be flexible. But it was worth a try.

"I know you don't accept returns," I blurted, back at the counter, "but could I just exchange this for my normal product? I just looked online and it seems to be a bad match."

Gained: $8 price difference since I got a cheaper item -- and a product I trust.

PS: The word "gained" is a misnomer of sorts. In this case, it's an offset loss. But eventually, I hope to shift gears from merely minimizing looses to boldly boosting earnings. A goal for 2009!

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