We're Sears People - Spinning Straw Into Gold Blog at Allrecipes.com - 310183

Spinning Straw Into Gold

We're Sears people 
Sep. 4, 2013 12:36 pm 
Updated: Sep. 17, 2013 11:16 am

I was adopted. For some reason, my mother had a hard time not reminding me of that in oh so many ways. She seemed upset that I like the finer things, and was bent on letting me know that was not OK with her.

When I was 16, I was out shopping in one of our Philadelphia suburban strip malls, and came upon the Bonwit Teller’s, a very fashionable department store in that decade. I went in and drooled over a $35 blouse, which, of course, I knew I could not afford. This was the ‘60s, and a $10 blouse was pushing it.

I made the mistake of telling my mom I had seen a beautiful blouse at the little shop and she literally spent about fifteen minutes telling me in no uncertain terms I was not to even imagine such a purchase from such a shop.

I guess I didn’t learn this lesson, because when my girlfriend Grace bought a beautiful cardigan from Strawbridge & Clothier for $12, I saw how good it continued to look for as many times as it was laundered. My cardigans cost around $5 and I got three for Grace’s finer Garland one.  




When I told my mom I would be happy to have the better one, that didn’t “pill” after one machine wash, and that I didn’t need three that did “pill” after only one wash, she was very indignant at her recalcitrant daughter.

“We’re Sears people,” she pontificated, with the hidden, but not really well-hidden, message that if I were to be “one of them” I would stop my “highfalutin’” ways, sooner, rather than later.

My internal response was, “WELL, YOU may be a Sears person, but I am not.”

I now realize I should have agreed. “Yes, you are.” And. left it at that.

When I had a discussion with my girlfriends recently about the wisdom of paying $100 for a Coach purse, one of them responded much like I did, that her cheaper purses wore out and showed wear after a few months, where her Coach purse, which she now buys one of annually, looks great after the year.

So, now I realize, there are Sears people, and there are Strawbridge & Clothier, Bonwit Teller, Coach people.

Now I am not trying to be snobbish. I still maintain it is a matter of enjoying quality vs. quanity. Someone who buys a $15 Walmart purse three times a year, and has to throw them away after use, isn’t really saving much over the person who waits for the Coach outlet savings, and purchases a beautifully made purse for $65 that will still be in style and look good the next year. But, there really are people who pride themselves on preferring the cheaper product, and they would rather have quantity than quality.

This seems to be true in so many ways. I marvel that some people open a restaurant or a gift shop or a yogurt shop or any kind of business, and know how to make it look really “classy.” Other people seem to go out of their way to keep things as mundane and non-descript and undistinctive as possible.

When I owned and managed a Christian bookstore, I found beautiful Christmas cards from Abbey Press. They were very sophisticated, and had a clean design. I still purchased some “regular” greeting cards from American Greetings, which looked so much less attractive. Guess which ones were more popular? Right!

Is it that some people really prefer that? Or are they afraid to “look” richer? Or is it just what they are used to? Or is it a lack of a sense of value?” I really don’t know. Maybe I am a snob.

Suffice to say, I AM STILL NOT a Sears person. I almost hyperventilate just walking into Sears, reliving the humiliation of my Bonwit Teller lecture experience. I realize I am over-reacting a tad. And, I know it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. But, I ask you, wouldn’t you prefer a better, higher quality item if you could have it? And, should a girl get a lecture and feel punished for “just looking” at that better quality?

These and other things my inquiring mind wants to know.

Sep. 4, 2013 7:28 pm
wow! gal you have a lot to get off your chest. i buy quality, not because i want to spend more or to one-up folks...it's because of experience with a better product and i can afford it, my preference. rock on gal. i'm in your corner. no reason to justify what you want, no matter the cost. i still want a ferrari.
Sep. 5, 2013 3:23 am
I say go for quality and get the best you can afford. Some things don't need to be super-high quality if they are a one-time or minimal use item. But, I for one want quality food, quality shoes and clothes, and quality people around me; especially quality people as I expect them to last me a life-time. As far as the WalMart purse vs Coach... I am not an "accessory" person so my WalMart purse lasts me several years. LOL (That would be one of those times quality is not important to me...)
Sep. 5, 2013 4:40 am
Yep, some things I want the best I can afford and other things it just doesn't matter. I think the main thing to TRY to remember is not to judge others for their choices. There are so many reasons for the choosing and using different things. Maybe a woman carrying a "cheap" bag is proud to be carrying a gift from a beloved grandchild, for example.
Sep. 5, 2013 9:48 am
Good point Indiana. I wasn't really wanting to be judgmental, even though it may sneak in from the trauma. :( Thanks to you all for reading and commenting.
Sep. 5, 2013 10:08 am
I got the best when I married my wife. The rest doesn't matter.
Sep. 5, 2013 10:09 am
Oh, BTW I'll take my pickup truck over a Ferrari any day.
Sep. 5, 2013 12:04 pm
Hi Marjorie I know what you mean. I am a very thrifty (cheap?) person , but my daughter wouldn't be caught dead in anything from Sears or Walmart! I love her, and try and teach her how to save, but she has also taught me some things...like how to appreciate the better things in life. I think being flexible is important for a long and happy life. I learned early to accept people for the way they are and not try and change them to fit the way you think. I'm an old hippie, and this philosophy has kept me close to my two daughters. We never went through the "Mom doesn't understand me" phase. It's neat to see this attitude being passed to the next generation...my grandkids!! I never wanted my girls to feel the way I did about my Mom, and they don't!!
Sep. 5, 2013 7:04 pm
You mean your a K-Mart person, since they Own Sears.
Sep. 6, 2013 8:23 am
Twenty years ago I would have been solidly in your camp. Age and experience have changed that perspective though. From the time I had my own hard earned babysitting money to about age 40 I was a devout Nordstrom girl. We bought new cars at the drop of a hat and didn't mind the never ending car payments or the price tags at Nordy's. I have since learned that a new and overly expensive car is not a wise investment. Actually, it is not an investment at all. As long as we have reliable (paid cash for) vehicles that are kept immaculate, we are happy campers. I used to think that flying first class was a great treat. Sadly, first class has shrunk their seat sizes and all the amenities that used to exist there over the years and although I still fly first class alot, (Through my son in law's work benefits) it no longer feels like anything special. Just a little more leg room and a little more attention and some crappy plane food. I used to buy designer bags, but I am the proud owner of some spectacular knock offs that hold up beautifully and I get so many compliments on my $25 dollar one. Go figure. I have done dozens of homes/kitchens/baths and I have found that many of the high end appliances and furniture just ain't what they used to be. The house I gutted and now live in is a great example. I bought a higher end residential appliance name. They are all made by the same lousy manufacturer (poorly I might add) in some third world nation. They look gorgeous though and I am sure they will dazzle the next buyer of this house. I swear I would give my eye teeth if I could find a used good working old dishwasher that I could spiff up with a new panel to replace the problematic (thank God I bought the extended warranty) very expensive POC I have now, I would. I also bought very expensive cherry cabinets from a top of the line manufacturer for this house. Worst cabinets I have ever bought in my years....and I have bought many cabinets from many manufacturers. My fav so far were a mid range that I put in my Maui condo. They still look fab! I wish I would have skipped the beautiful flawless and way too expensive travertine floors I have in my house. They are a pain to care for and I have discovered amazing porcelain that is a fraction of the cost with cheaper install and and easy maintenance. My GF Mir in Maui has a home that most people would die for yet she shops yard sales every weekend and actually scored a $100,000 painting on one of her "shopping" trip for a few bucks. We....hell I, would give my right arm to have her spectacular home. I would go on but I am short on body parts and long on examples so I will quit. The best wisdom I can share is to save like hell for retirement cuz one illness can wipe out a million+ in short order. Best of luck in your shopping.
Sep. 6, 2013 8:28 am
Like bd weld above.....I married the best and I am so grateful to have him 42 years and I hope many more :)
Sep. 6, 2013 8:35 am
Don't get me wrong folks, I am the most frugal person you will ever know. I am just like Maui girl in getting good stuff for less. I NEVER like buying retail. I make my own granola, yogurt, energy balls, and pride myself on finding the best bargain when I do have to buy something. I have become a big Amazon shopper, even for food. I need some Clark's shoes because they are best for my feet, but I haven't found them cheap enough yet, so I will keep wearing my worn out ones till I see under $80. :) But this was about NOT BEING ALLOWED to even LOOK at the finer things that were really higher quality. I am a conservative in every sense, and I really, really hate spending even $1 more than necessary. I just like the quality of Coach, and truthfully, I don't like shopping at Walmart. I am pretty much an online shopper. I so agree that many of the so-called high-end items are not really a good deal. I don't shop in Nordstrom's or Bloomingdale's anymore. I go to even the COACH outlet and get the $300 purse for $79. But I am saying it is a matter of CHOICE and I didn't like being persecuted for considering my choices a right. So I agree with you all. Sometimes it is worth it, sometimes it is not. Thanks so much for your comments.
Sep. 6, 2013 9:48 am
My parents and grandparents were fiscally conservative in purchasing (when they NEEDED things and in the stock market. I should have listened to them way more intently. I should have been more like them in fact. I have wasted way too much money in my life....
Sep. 6, 2013 11:00 am
My $15 Wal-Mart purse lasted five years. But, most cheap clothing doesn't last. I won't pay for designer names, though.
Sep. 6, 2013 11:04 am
I'm all about quality. And quite frankly, Sears carries a number of high quality items (clothing NOT being one of them lol). Their tools and appliances are not bad at all and the one time I did require it, they stood behind their warranty promptly and without any unnecessary fuss or delay. I believe common sense needs to prevail. I discovered that I was going thru cheap vacuum cleaners on an average of one a year, so I bit the bullet and forked out $500 for a nice one with a 5 year warranty. Well worth the money and certainly a much wiser financial bargain in the end run (7 years and still running).
Sep. 6, 2013 12:15 pm
There is a shoe store in Cherry Hill that carries clarks. I got my sandals for 100. but they will last more then one year so I don't mind the cost so much.
Sep. 6, 2013 12:37 pm
This is a conversation I've had with my sister many times. I very rarely ever pay full price for anything but I do buy quality. Believe it or not, you can find QUALITY at Sears, K-Mart or WalMart. You just have to look at what you're buying. But I do shop elsewhere. My sis does not. She will spend huge $ on her son's clothes but she will only buy her clothes at WalMart type stores. Every now and then, I get her to go shopping with me and show her that when buying things on sale, she can get just as good a price but on better quality at other places. Now with that being said, I will not wear anything that has a designer brand name that shows. They are not paying me to be a model and I won't be free advertisement. Also, just because it has a well known name on it, doesn't make it quality. I used to love Coach purses. Now it's difficult to find one that doesn't have Cs all over it. Also difficult to find quality leather from them anymore. Some of my friends pay too much money on Thirty One products. I do not think they are worth the price. I don't go for the "in" name at the moment. My sis thinks I'm snooty. I think she doesn't feel herself worthy of nice things. We're tyring to meet in the middle.
Sep. 6, 2013 5:19 pm
This reads like you have a lot to work through. Wish you all the best.
Sep. 6, 2013 8:19 pm
Marjorie, i hear ya girl. buying a pair of Levi's was a major purchase back in the day for my Mother, so i had to wear Lee's. But, it's all good. What doesn't break you, makes you stronger. right?
Sep. 7, 2013 6:55 am
Mauigirl and I have discovered the same path. Do we know each other? I was a Nordy girl, had the $300 handbags, the German car with high payments and it got me nowhere but in debt. That was twenty years ago also. I'm so much happier now paying cash, shopping estate sales, etc. I still love quality, but not at the expense of breaking the bank account. BTW, I love Walmart. I also love Sears because I get the best price on name brand appliances. I believe you can have quality without being a snob. Quality is also in the eye of the beholder. I've learned to respect everyone's values, not just my own. And I won't judge anyone for having something of lesser quality than I might have. That's my two cents.
Sep. 7, 2013 7:22 am
It was so hard for me being married to an unmovable K-Mart man and me being brought up living with a higher standard. We were not extravagant, just had a discerning taste for the best quality at a reasonable price. That marriage lasted 18 years while I tried to up his game and he tried to downsize me. We never met in the middle!
Sep. 7, 2013 8:56 am
YOU GUYS ARE GREAT!! I do agree that Sears has good appliances and tools. I should tell you my Sears story sometime though, because it is hilarious. I am the biggest cheapskate on consumable items. Interesting info on the Coach update quality though. I will have to look at them closer. And, Lisa, I try to write with some emotion to make it relatable, but I guess I am still not over being ridiculed for liking seeing I could have a pretty sweater and blouse. I certainly never look down on anyone for anything, and just was relating a childhood story.
Sep. 7, 2013 11:51 am
I loved your post, and I understand what you're saying. I try not to get into labels. I don't define myself that way. I do own a Coach purse and they are good quality. I'd rather have a Coach purse with $3,000 in it, than a Louis Vuitton bag (that is made of canvas coated with plastic, by the way.) I lived abroad for several years. We had an Italian oven. You couldn't adjust the oven temperature. It was either "off" or "on." When "on" the temperature was hotter than HELL. I still have a scar on my arm where I burned myself on that darn stove. Now, I'm back in America. I'm happy with my stove. It pre-heats quickly and holds the correct temperature. It's a Kenmore. Which I think... is the brand you buy... at Sears. But I'm NOT a Sears person, either. ;)
Sep. 8, 2013 6:25 am
Enjoyed reading your blog, Marjorie. Childhood stings resonate long and loud.
Sep. 8, 2013 9:21 am
Totally get it...and Bibi, isn't it something how those memories can never just disappear....
Sep. 8, 2013 12:04 pm
Mauigirl, "The best wisdom I can share is to save like hell for retirement cuz one illness can wipe out a million+" I have to agree. I'm still on the learning curve that type of situation. 18 months ago, my husband who was out on a walk got hit by a car while he was in the cross walk 2 blocks away from hone, in our quite peaceful suburb. 2 months later we had racked up 21k emergency room,7k in ambulance bills, 305k in hospital, 16k in doctors, & 17k in nursing home bills. By the time we hit the one year mark, his medical bills were over $600,000.00. Save like heck, spend wisely and buy insurance! You make think that insurance is a luxury, but you can't get through s situation like this without good insurance! I also can be thankful for one thing, and that his part of the health care reform bill. It removed the 1 million lifetime limit in health insurance benefits. Only God knows how much insurance companies have paid out in health insurance benefits over my husbands prior 54 years, but at 600k in one year, we could start having problems in the next few years. I
Sep. 9, 2013 12:36 pm
Oh dear Maui girl. I am so sorry for all of that heartache and expense that wiped out so much of your savings. I will say a prayer for you. It makes my whining about a purse sound really trivial. Thanks for your heartfelt comments.
Sep. 17, 2013 11:16 am
Oh I was wrong--it was Pmaas, not Maui girl who had the horrible med bills. So Maui girl got prayers too. LOL. I will put you on my list though Pmaas, and thanks for reading and commenting.
Click to Change your Profile Picture

Living In
Enfield, Connecticut, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2009

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Slow Cooking, Asian, Nouvelle, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Gourmet

Reading Books, Music, Charity Work

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Grilled Burgers For the 4th
Grilled Burgers For the 4th

Check out our collection of almost 200 grilled burger recipes.

Potato Salad On the Side
Potato Salad On the Side

A cookout isn't complete without a big bowl of potato salad. We have hundreds for you.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
As a freelancer, I write about food, travel, entertainment and health. Publishing began as business/health writer for Orange County Business Journal, drama critic for Orange County Register, LA Times, and Irvine World News, and food critic for Orange County Register's 13 city papers. I follow hubby around the country, so next destination in IL/WI was freelancing for Stateline Business and Rock River Times (my Lunch with Marjorie column is still online there). Now in CT, I write about life in New England, travel, continue Lunch with Marjorie, and have other ventures happening. I have consolidated all my writings at www.readmstradinger.com. Click on MENU for the growing list. Please leave comments! Thank you so much for reading. Marjorie
My favorite things to cook
breakfast scones, Grand Marnier soufflé, zucchini pancakes, spiralized anything, but especially carrot Thai salad, a myriad of stuffed peppers, frittatas, and lately Grouper.
My favorite family cooking traditions
sharing meals with family and friends, small group fellowships with a meal, (kitchen) island cooking. I suppose I would also enjoy that other kind of "island" cooking.
My cooking triumphs
grand marnier souffle, which my husband and I make together.
My cooking tragedies
kidney lasagne...hey, we were trying to save $$. lol
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States