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Selling dirt cheap isn't always such a good thing

Lissa Wyman Rug editorLissa Wyman Rug editor
I get a big thrill out of taking joy rides to the suburbs to visit the big mass market stores that aren't easily accessible in New York City. A couple weeks ago, my outing included an off-price chain that has grown and prospered in the past few years. I had high expectations for the rug department.
     The last time I wrote about the company, I was accused of being too mean. But I had heard only good things about the store, so I went with the best intentions of not hurting any buyer's delicate feelings. I would take a few pictures, write a rave review, and get a nice holiday glow. Heck, maybe I'd even buy a rug.
     The rug department was easy to find. I just followed the aroma of mothballs to the nether reaches of the store. There, dangling from a 40-arm rack were about 60 brown and beige rugs, 10 gray rugs and 10 rugs of unknown color provenance.
     These were some of the most tired old pieces of dreck I had seen this side of a G.O.B. sale. I looked at one famous-maker rug - I think it might have been beige in its youth - and recalled when that entire line had been dumped as a bad experiment. There were a few machine-made rugs, rigid as boards and a couple of shags that hadn't even made it to the grungiest dorm rooms. There were fat loopy hand-tufted rugs that sagged alarmingly from their clips. On the plus side, everything was dirt cheap.
     Come to think of it, maybe being dirt cheap ISN'T such a good thing. If the merchandise is ugly and shoddy, no one wants it.
     But this chain is doing well, so consumers must buy some rugs along the way; otherwise the company wouldn't bother with them.
     But why give the customer cheap, ugly, old rugs when there are so many nice looking value priced new ones available? Just think how much more they could sell.
     There are plenty of good looking rugs around that cost as little as $159 in 5 by 8. There are also elegant hand-knotted rugs available for $2,000, which is still a great value.
      Any store that embraces a cynical policy of buying and selling cheap is telling the consumer he or she has no taste and no intelligence. These companies obviously believe that passing off crummy merchandise is okay and that the customer is on her own in every sense. (I'm not even going to go into the woeful lack of service in these stores.)
After working up a good steaming hissy-fit, I didn't want to leave the store empty-handed. So I bought a nice china teacup for $3.99. When I got home, I discovered a big chip. I guess it serves me right.

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