Optimism or Greed?

For the last couple of months, I’ve been hearing financial experts mutter about “frustrated money sitting on the sidelines, waiting to get back into the game.”   I was not convinced – most of the market behavior since the banks started melting down, has been sheer monkey-screeching panic.

And then, I saw this (click to blow up to full size – it is about 6000 pixels wide, so you’re gonna get the full panoramic effect)

Apparently, these people were under the impression that the store was "giving away" free plasma TVs.

Apparently, these people were under the impression that the store was "giving away" free plasma TVs.

I stitched this together in Photoshop CS3 (thanks for the review copy, Adobe!), which is why there’s a bifurcated car in the middle foreground.  Still, I kinda like the effect.

Now, either the pundits were right, and there is tremendous pent-up consumer buying demand … or the impending inauguration of Barack Obama has made sudden optimists out of the justifiably depressed residents of gritty South La Cienaga …

…or some of these knuckleheads didn’t really read the Saturday LA Times story all that closely.  Look folks, the discounts right now are at – what? – maybe 10%?  You can do better than that shopping online.  The 90% off sales aren’t gonna kick in until March, when they’re pretty much yanking up the carpet pad & selling it.  But you couldn’t tell that to the people anxiously waiting in line, some of whom told me that they were there because they had heard that Circuit City was going out of business and they were having to “give” their merch away.

Nothing like a chance to screw the other guy when he’s down, to bring out the avaricious nature of the average Americano.  I guess the economy can’t be doing that bad … or maybe, as a people, we are still addicted to the greedy, consumerist lifestyle, and the much-vaunted “New Frugality” is a thin, thin veneer on a generation of people still stuck in instant gratification mode.  I wonder if the “Going Out of Business” sale is actually just a really clever marketing trick. It’s been the best driver of foot traffic into the stores that I’ve seen lately.


It seems some of the commenters on the LA Times site have finally clued in.

I was at the CC in Santa Monica today and it was busy but the “discounts” were the same ones that have been there since after Christmas. I spoke to an employee and he told me that the liquidators had not come to their store yet to flag merchandise for further discounts. Wait a little longer, folks…

This is all starting to remind me of the sleazy hi-fi store that polluted the airwaves in my hometown when I was growing up.  Every week for eight years, you’d hear his bleating voice on Z-100 radio: “Lost our lease! Everything has to go! Going out of business!”  And yet … somehow he hung in there, month after month, year after year.  Well, until he got caught shipping weed across country in hollowed-out stereo speakers…

I do find it heartening that many of the commenters are referring to the price-check power offered by the internet.  The more consumers are armed with the power to fact-check advertiser claims, the more they will be able to spurn the scammers.