Low Price Is An End And A Victory In Itself

Wednesday, August 12, 2009, AM | Leave Comment

Ellen Ruppel Shell, a journalism professor at Boston University, once enjoyed a bargain as much as the rest of us, maybe more.

“Low price is an end and a victory in itself, a way to wrestle control from the baffling mystery that is retail,” she writes in her introduction to “Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture” (Penguin, 320 pages, $25.95).

With many consumers trying to reduce expenses, Ms. Shell’s broad message – bargains aren’t what they seem – appears to be much different than the opinion of the majority.

But her argument that Americans need to be more insightful and understanding about what they acquire, has a broader appeal.

The book has generated some good reviews, including this from the New York Times: “A first-rate job of reporting and analysis. Pay full price for this book, if you can stand to.”

In a Nutshell
In the book she seems annoyed with merchants like Whole Foods, the pricey supermarket, for charging $7.50 for a loaf of bread.

But the consumer would have thought they would be a favorite, since they charge more for what they consider a superior product.

Ellen believes that’s part of the problem. Consumers think they have to pay for quality. They don’t know they are being overcharged.

She says her kids called it Whole Paycheck because it’s so expensive. She thinks we can make quality affordable to the vast majority of Americans.

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