Tag Archive 'Uncategorized'

Oct 30 2014

#EveryDayShouldFeelThisGood, If You Buy Our Tote

Published by under The Shopping Blog

I am not a purse girl. My wristlet is years old and falling apart, and it’s only lasted this long because I prefer to slide my student ID into my phone case and eliminate carrying anything extra. It’s a little inconvenient, even though I do own a fairly pricey Longchamp purse. My grandparents noticed that my every day items (cell phone, keys, wallet, etc.) were always misplaced, and took it upon themselves to fix it. My grandfather discovered that we both liked Vineyard Vines products, and gave me the Vineyard Vines Classic Whale Tote for Christmas last year.

The bag comes in a variety of patterns, with more novelty designs available for $105. The most reliable places to buy them are Vineyard Vines stores, which are most prominent in Massachusetts. However, they can be found online in places such as eBay. According to Google Shopping, however, they can only be purchased through Vineyard Vines. My grandfather is older, and opted to go the easiest route of purchasing from their official site for $95.

Every time a purchase is made from the retailer directly, one of the classic whale bumper stickers is included in the package. This is a great method of brand promotion, and makes customers feel like their purchase is “special.” It also makes up for the fact that a nearly perfectly plain canvas tote bag costs approximately $100. L.L. Bean’s rival bag, the Boat and Tote, is the most comparable bag on the market, and comes in various sizes at less than half the cost. Admittedly, the VV designs are a bit more fun and feminine, and each Vineyard tote has a light blue gingham insert with a zippered compartment and three deep pockets to hold keys and cell phones. The Boat and Tote, while it has a lifetime, no-questions-asked warranty, is merely a large canvas hole.

Vineyard Vines was founded in 1998 by brothers Shep and Ian, who are so passionate and confident in their products that they publish reviews directly onto the site. The Classic Whale Tote earned a 5/5, with 5 reviews. Buzzwords like “classy, convenient, sturdy,” are bulleted at the top of paragraph long reviews, with notable usages ranging from “office/computer” to “beach/yoga.” And to keep up with their growing college demographic, Shep and Ian have remodeled VV a bit to fit social media. They run an active tumblr page, and are quick to “favorite” or “reblog” their fan posts. They’ve also jumped on the hashtag trend, creating #EverydayShouldFeelThisGood or #EDSFTG. I was upset by this, because I’ve always considered Shep and Ian as leaders of their industry. However, this could also be a marketing “defensive” tool, as several lesser known “prep” brands have tried to imitate the original canvas tote, insert included. In fact, Salmon Cove, a brand I had never heard of before, asked lifestyle blogger The College Prepster to review their version. One of the most recent comments on her post was the the insert looked “exactly like Vineyard Vines.”

I chose to post about this tote bag because it was not something I would have purchased for myself on a college budget. However, since acquiring it, I’ve taken it to both class and the beach. The worst that’s happened to it is a stain, which would wash out if I bothered to try cleaning it. Mine has the most “basic” design, making it versatile enough to match any casual outfit. If I were to purchase another bag, I would likely spring for the Americana themed one, despite the fact that it is no longer 4th of July season.

For those looking for a reasonably sized bag that is fashionable and well organized, I highly recommend the Classic Whale Tote. While it may not have the backing of L.L. Bean, the inside pockets and design beat the Boat and Tote… or at least in my opinion. After having my own Classic Whale, and growing up with a Boat and Tote in my family, I would never go back to L.L. Bean’s bag unless I needed a very large size.


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Nov 05 2012

Sharkweek ain’t got nothing on this

Published by under The Shopping Blog

The Remote Controlled Zombie Shark Air Swimmer, or flying robot zombie shark, can be obtained from a number of retailers both online and in ‘real’ life, but I first heard about it on ThinkGeek. This is the not only place the shark toy can be obtained; it’s not available in stores, as it’s marketed by the company AIRSWIMMERS, by William Mark, but you can get it in a number of places, such as ThinkGeek–as mentioned–or Amazon, or even in-person in hobby shops On ThinkGeek, the toy goes for 29.99 plus shipping, and on Amazon, you’re able to find it for a few dollars cheaper, around 25.00 on sale down from 39.99.

The massive (almost person-sized!) toys are popular, gathering attention on sites such as ZombieGift and GeekAlerts . ThinkGeek, is a purely online retailer sells to a main audience of the “geeky” crowd; fans of computers, robots, Star Wars, lasers, Doctor Who, and other seemingly nerdy hobbies and pastimes. It was founded more than twenty years ago in ’99, in Fairfax VA, and is owned by Geeknet, I chose to post this particular item because it is, in a word, badass. I’m a fan of quirky, nerdy toys, as I said at the beginning of our semester, and if a flying robot undead shark doesn’t fit the bill, I don’t know what does. The toy is appealing for a number of reasons, including the following, taken from ThinkGeeks own advertising page:
• Hours of flying shark attack fun for the whole family
• Durable, high-quality nylon material will stay inflated for weeks
• Simply refill with new helium when the shark doesn’t fly anymore
• Remote functions: Climb, descend, and tail fin control for turning
• Range: Up to 40 feet

The producer of the toy, Airswimmers, takes a similar approach as the retailer ThinkGeek in advertising for its flying fish. They detail their products, though they don’t seem to sell their products themselves; however, they do have lists of legitimate retailrs–one of which is ThinkGeek–and advise customers on how to avoid knock offs.
The idea of a refillable, battery powered flying shark is really appealing, at least to me and anyone who’s still a child at heart. A child who is entertained by flying undead carnivorous fish, anyways.


Check it out, and go buy a flying shark. You know you want one.

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Apr 23 2012

Voluntary Simplicity

Published by under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

A life of voluntary simplicity seems to be the exact opposite of conspicuous consumption that we discussed in our first week. We have come full circle from upper middle class competitive consumption to hippie-ish ideas about conservation and simple living. I appreciated the misconceptions about voluntary simplicity that the author provided, because I had those same assumptions when I began reading. I was surprised how age-old the hippy ideas were, dating back to ancient Greece. I thought reading about this lifestyle in all the different cultures at different times was very interesting. While this life of voluntary simplicity seems to be a good idea, I feel like it would only work on a smaller scale or in technology free environments. Even the ancient Greeks didn’t fully abide by the Golden Mean though, I’m sure, that many believed in it and thought it was right.

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Apr 22 2012


Published by under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

On Friday, April 20th, I visited the Springfield Mall at 11:30 in the morning. I was supposed to get there by 11:00 but I got help back in traffic and then a little lost. I finally saw the mall and pulled in, parking outside the Belk. I was surprised that the parking lot seemed quite full for what I was expecting on a weekday at 11:00. While I easily found a spot and not too far from the entrance either, I had half expected the mall to be empty at this time. The weather was nice and I suppose that always seems to get people out of the house. I didn’t see how anybody could have gotten to the mall without driving as the area was much more commercial as opposed to residential.

I went into the Belk entrance which had a table set up with young girls. I thought that maybe it was a girl scout table but wasn’t sure and because I was short on time, did not have the opportunity to speak with them. The Belk looked much like the many I have been in: clean and organized, though this one seemed to be a little bigger than the one I am used to. I walked through the Belk and went out into the main hallway of the mall. That particular entrance had about three young boys who seemed to be handing out pamphlets, though they did not approach me, so I cannot be sure what they were doing there.

Once in the main hallway (I don’t know what else to call it) of the mall I was surprised by the amount of people who seemed to be there at this time of the day. I walked up toward the Costco and the closer I got the Costco, the less crowded the mall seemed. Most of the stores at this end of the mall seemed to target children. The Build-a-Bear Workshop, the ‘Wiggle Worms’ (which seemed to be a play area where mothers can leave their children supervised while they shop), a store called Crazy 8 and the Choo Choo train. I spoke with the girl who ran the train and she talked about how they get really busy during holidays (which wasn’t surprising). I went into the ‘As-Seen-On-TV’ Store where a guy with a Jamaican accent was sitting at the cash register. I always enjoy looking through these types of stores and at all the ridiculous trinkets mixed in with subtly brilliant inventions.

Walking through the mall, I noticed two security guards walking about. They were both elderly men who I figured wouldn’t put up much of a fight, but their presence was still calming. I didn’t understand why the mall needed two GameStops, and the stores weren’t even at opposite ends of the mall, one was closed to the middle and the other near the Costco end. I kept myself from going into the very tempting ‘Sweet Factory’ which was colorful and inviting and also near the Costco end with all the other children’s stores.

I saw many stations set up in the center of the hallway much like every other mall I have been in. One station was selling hair curlers and strengtheners and would do your hair for you, another few stations were selling the typical cell phone accessories and the jewelry station that pierces ears. As I passed by one store, a woman with a tray approached me and asked me to try some tea. Of the few stores that I found the time to go into, most of the employees seemed to be helpful and upbeat. I went into Journey’s to look at the converse shoes as I desperately need a new pair and immediately upon entering the store I was offered help, though I refused the help, it was appreciated nonetheless. I went into Claire’s to look for a cheap pair of stud earrings and the employee working in there was rushing around, though she was kind and upbeat and greeted me nicely. I went into Icing to look for the same thing I was looking for in Claire’s and the employee did not greet me, she only kept looking down at her book. I commented to her on my surprise that they sold flasks and she only grunted in response. I went into Papaya only because it looked like an interesting store, I had never been in one. I felt that there were far too many employees working in there at the time, though they seemed to be friendly. I ended up buying a dress off the sale rack for seven dollars.

After going into the stores I rushed to walk through the rest of the mall before having to leave and saw many stores that I was expecting to see. An Abercrombie, and American Eagle, Finish Line, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, J.C. Penny’s, and many more that are typical for malls. I had been looking for a mall directory since I had gotten there and couldn’t find one until I got to the other end of the mall toward the end of my visit. It may have been that I wasn’t looking close enough and missed some on my walk through but I was surprised that I had only seen one throughout my visit. The food court was also pretty typical except for the Chick-fil-A cow walking around, another thing I wasn’t expecting for this time of day.

I didn’t have any particular connection or disconnection with this mall. It is a mall, much like any other. What I didn’t like was the layout, I thought it was annoying how many side-hallways there were with dead ends. I would have preferred to be able to walk through without walking up and down each side aisle to see what was down there.

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Apr 14 2012

Purchasing Power

Published by under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

This book was really interesting, though I wish she had had more of a variety in the ages of the children observed as well as in the areas in which she observed. My favorite part that I found most interesting was the part in which the children shopped with their twenty dollars. I was touched by the decisions they made, knowing that I would have bought something for myself without a second though makes me feel ashamed of myself. This book definitely challenges stereotypes about race and consumer culture and also influenced my own ideas. Whether I like to admit it or not, I stereotype people based on what I see or hear in the media, something we are all guilty of at times. We need more books like these to challenge those stereotypes and reveal the truth.

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Apr 05 2012

Hunger Games Archery

Published by under The Shopping Blog,Uncategorized

I recently went to see the Hunger Games in theaters, a movie I would recommend to anyone. Having seen it twice, each time I left the theater I had the desire to learn more about archery. I would love to get a traditional archery set and become as good as the main character Katniss Everdeen. Looking up an archery set for this shopping blog, I also researched the movie and how it effected archery sales. According to this article from ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/hunger-games-sparks-archerys-pop-culture-moment/story?id=16011857#.T34SNa6ftVo) the movie sparked an archery pop culture movement. This article was one of many I found about the same subject.

This video shows why:



I’ve learned quite a bit about archery in my simple research for this blog post. There are many different types of bows ranging from modern ones with pulleys to the more traditional kinds. Even among these two very different styles are many more substyles such as the crossbow, the long bow, the recurve bow. The one used in the Hunger Games is the recurve style bow.

On a fansite, I found the popular silver bow which was created by the fans. I found it for sale on Ebay for $57.00 but it was already sold out.


I found some wooden bows for sale on Ebay ranging from $23.50 to about $50.00. I also found much more expensive bows selling for up to $1000 but most of the ones I was interested in ranged from about $250 to $35. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=20837&_nkw=bow%20recurve&_sop=12

I was one of many fans of the movie to be inspired to really try archery. I’ve had a cheap bow at home and shoot it every once and a while. Every time I get it out, I have such a fun time trying to hit my home-made target on a cardboard box. This movie has made me interested in getting a real bow. I know I would have fun as well as challenge myself with a more traditional bow.



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Apr 02 2012

A Year Without ‘Made in China’

Published by under Uncategorized

This book was really interesting to read. The idea of how regularly Americans consume Chinese goods is no secret to anyone, and there are plenty of people out there who do try to only buy American made goods, at least when it’s convenient. You can find their websites or their bumper stickers quite easily. There are also ‘Made in the USA’ stores, I believe there is one in downtown Fredericksburg, where you can spend all the money you like on good old fashioned American (novelty) goods.
In the book, Bongiorni doesn’t rule out all products that aren’t American, just ones from China. At the beginning of the project I don’t think she had a realistic idea of what that meant, as she comes to realize when she gets gifts from friends and family that are made in China, and has to succumb to using some products with parts from China that were ‘made’ in the USA. I think the book really proves that it’s nearly impossible to live without products from China in this country, as illustrated by the husband’s subversive shopping techniques and even the author’s exploiting of the idea of ‘gifts’, for example when she asks her sister in law to buy her husband an inflatable pool for his birthday. She is purposely obtaining products from China, and she knows it — just not buying it herself. I do give the author credit for trying the boycott, and for documenting the struggles her family went through and all of the research that went into the book that made it interesting and educational. I also think that a middle class American family on a moderate budget could not afford to live without ‘Made in China.’ I personally can live without Wal-Mart and K-Mart, but I could never like the idea of buying a four year old $70 shoes that they will tear up within months, or give up my collection of cheap sunglasses. There are just too many things that I refuse to spend too much money on, and Chinese products make it easy for me to be that way.

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Apr 01 2012

A Year Without…

Published by under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

This book was interesting and comical. It makes you think about how many of your own products are from China and when you do realize just how much you are surrounded by Chinese products it is overwhelming. That was my personal reaction. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of Chinese products I surround myself with. This book was an eye-opener for me. Like Bongiorni, I don’t have any particular feelings for or against Chinese products or products from any other country. I would just feel better about myself to be more conscious of where my material goods are coming from and I would also feel better to support my own economy a little more, on a local level as well as a national level.

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Mar 25 2012

Overspent American

Published by under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

This reading really shows how much Americans get pulled into a certain lifestyle. I was surprised by how many factors really go into this vortex of consumerism. Not only is it TV and commercials that invent needs, trends and desires but it is the community we live in or the schools we attend that decide what we need and buy. This book reminded me of my aunt who lives in an upper/middle class subdivision. She constantly competes with her neighborhood housewives to have the best front lawn, the best car, and even worse they compete with their children. If your children aren’t on the honor roll and if they aren’t on the travel soccer team, then your status is threatened. It seems exhausting to me, coming from a small town where extravagance is frowned upon, or maybe its not the place I live, its just my own personal outlook. I have my iPod, my car, my phone and my Mac, but with the exception of the iPod these are practical items. I commute to school in my dust covered car which has no handle (I have to climb through the back and open it from the inside). I didn’t get a phone until I was in high school and I didn’t get a personal laptop until I went to college and kind of needed one. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t get caught up in that kind of thought or lifestyle, but I can’t be sure of that, there are simply too many traps.

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Mar 18 2012

Nickle and Dimed

Published by under Uncategorized

This experiment reminded me of those documentaries on fast food and healthcare. Taking yourself out of your familiar, comfortable lifestyle and plunging into a low-wage lifestyle can me a humbling experience as well as open your eyes to what is wrong with much of society. I myself worked at a restaurant for two summers and though I made pretty good money for a college student, I can’t imagine having to live off of what I made though many of the servers did make a living off of tips. One girl in particular is still there, at the age of 20, supporting herself and her husband. They live in a basement and live week to week; it is a sad life. I was unable to go back to the waitressing job as I was already suffering from a bad back, two more back surgeries made that type of work of lifting heavy trays and being on my feet all day impossible for me to do. I thought this book was really interesting and enlightening, though not very surprising… The fact that low-wage work is impractical and unfair is no surprise to me.

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