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woofmang

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An old, loyal companion passed today. Our family yellow lab, Whiskey, was 15 years old. She was our office dog for a while (until an employee w/ allergies complained). She was a costar in my shoe photos.
R.I.P. sweet girl.
View attachment 1483249

View attachment 1483256
I am so sorry for your loss. Dogs are best friends, totally understanding companions, and proof that God exists. I have lost many over the years, and I feel for you. I will say a prayer for your friend tonight.
 

Rithrin

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Had reason to head into the office today on a nice, casual Friday - Whatever that means in the Bay Area. Really loving the TS 20.1 suede Leeds for pretty much any occasion. Included is the AE Fulton briefcase which was picked up during the Buy More Save More sale, which I was undoubtedly psychologically manipulated into by my SA (No regrets, though)!

IMG_20201023_144808.jpg


Might be October but also 80F today. I’m going for it!
View attachment 1482120
Nice Ridgefields! They look well taken care of. Are you the original owner?

Also — an update on Milhouse the foster kitten. He has just finished his 12-weeks of daily injections and seems to be doing great. His latest blood work came back looking great as well. He now enters a 12-week observation period, with periodic blood tests to monitor his recovery.
View attachment 1482843
Milhouse is just the cutest. I actually made this whole post just for an opportunity to say this, no joke. You are doing the Good Work!

I'm not sure what to tell you because my wife keeps telling me to stop buying the same style and color of shoe.

Why is that she cannot see how different they all are?

View attachment 1483210
"Why are you buying more brown shoes? All your shoes are brown!" is pretty commonly heard around here. One day we will collectively make people understand the incredible difference in personality between Tobacco and Cognac colored shoes!

You just helped prove my point because you were willing to pay more, at a local brick and mortar shop, for an additional service or experience. The shop owner may have given you a 15% discount but that price was still far above what you would have paid for the parts online. The issue is that large online-only sellers get huge discounts from manufacturers for purchasing in bulk so the online-only seller can offer a price to its customers that is well below the cost your local shop pays to get those same parts from the manufacturer.

In this model, the only way the local brick and mortar shop can survive is to charge more for the same part so they can actually make a profit by selling it. So, the local brick and mortar shop must offer the customer a different experience because why else would someone pay more for the same product? Then the issue becomes that the added experience costs time and money so are they really making any profit on that part? And, this is why local bike shops carry very little inventory anymore (or are going out of business).

And to share my expertise, I now only buy parts online because I know how to install them. When I purchased my custom Seven titanium bicycle I went to a bike studio and paid more for the same product than I would have paid at any bike shop that sells Seven because I wanted a better/different experience and was happy to pay for it. Heck, I even drove back and forth 45 minutes each way to get to the bike studio rather than use the bike shop that was a 1 mile walk from my apartment. So, I too paid more for the same product but got a different/better/special experience.

I am not for online-only and against local brick and mortar (and SAs) but companies (big and small) with larger retail spaces need to figure out better strategies or they will not be around much longer.

It's 2020 and the Internet is not going away.
It actually discredits you to not own up to it as a person who has worked in marketing for 20+ years. I worked in advertising for many years, so I know of what I speak. Sales 101 includes personality training so you know how to communicate (aka manipulate) the customer. Let's at least be honest about it. Sales, Marketing, and Advertising are all strategies/tactics/campaigns meant to separate people from their money in trade for stuff they often do not need.

I'll just leave this here for now:

And maybe this one too:

I'm done.
It's good that we're talking about this subject. There are several people I know personally who complain about mom & pop stores going under while simultaneously frequenting Walmart for every product possible and utilizing their Amazon Prime membership for everything else, and then blame Walmart and Amazon for those small businesses going under. Unfortunately a lot of these mom & pop type places were running plain vanilla versions of these stores - a small local grocer or convenience store - and there was very little to distinguish them from the big chains besides a lower product selection at a higher price point.

My tailor and I were having a discussion the other day about running a storefront business in the current climate, and we touched on exactly the phenomenon you're describing. Why is a place like Brooks Brothers unable to profit from their huge storefronts packed with product and massive sales volume, whereas Kiton can run a very comfortable profit off two salespeople and a handful of sales per month? Well, Brooks is selling average product to your average middle to upper class family. Brooks has a razor thin profit margin and need huge sales volume to barely stay afloat. Trying to maintain that volume of sales puts pressure on the company to cut corners where possible, and the level of quality doesn't allow for some intimate relationship between Brooks and their customers to customize their experience. Whereas Kiton caters to an ultra niche crowd who are either extreme hobbyists looking to wear a Kiton specifically or the fabulously wealthy who just need a suit and buy Kiton because clearly a $10,000 price tag must mean quality. Kiton's profit margin is also significant compared to the materials and labor going into their product, and just one sale likely pays for all their operating expenses with any additional sales going to pure profit.

I think we are in the process, and have been for a while now, of a "specialization" revolution of the retail marketplace. Online-only and big chains can handle the needs for 99% of the people out there who are just looking for something because they need to check a box (i.e., I need some undershirts because it's getting cold, I need new underwear because mine are fraying, etc). But most people have some sort of hobby or passion where they care more about a certain product or service than your average consumer. Usually when you're an enthusiast, you need specialized products which a general supplier won't stock as they couldn't hope to sell it under normal circumstances. These enthusiasts are going to seek out those specialist shops and keep them in business, and the non-enthusiasts are going to continue to give their business to Amazon and keep them in business. Anyone in between these two extremes will be pushed out of the market. This is something I think we're going to see continue to unfold and businesses definitely need to adapt to it.
 

NYCTechNerd

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Had reason to head into the office today on a nice, casual Friday - Whatever that means in the Bay Area. Really loving the TS 20.1 suede Leeds for pretty much any occasion. Included is the AE Fulton briefcase which was picked up during the Buy More Save More sale, which I was undoubtedly psychologically manipulated into by my SA (No regrets, though)!

View attachment 1483288


Nice Ridgefields! They look well taken care of. Are you the original owner?


Milhouse is just the cutest. I actually made this whole post just for an opportunity to say this, no joke. You are doing the Good Work!


"Why are you buying more brown shoes? All your shoes are brown!" is pretty commonly heard around here. One day we will collectively make people understand the incredible difference in personality between Tobacco and Cognac colored shoes!



It's good that we're talking about this subject. There are several people I know personally who complain about mom & pop stores going under while simultaneously frequenting Walmart for every product possible and utilizing their Amazon Prime membership for everything else, and then blame Walmart and Amazon for those small businesses going under. Unfortunately a lot of these mom & pop type places were running plain vanilla versions of these stores - a small local grocer or convenience store - and there was very little to distinguish them from the big chains besides a lower product selection at a higher price point.

My tailor and I were having a discussion the other day about running a storefront business in the current climate, and we touched on exactly the phenomenon you're describing. Why is a place like Brooks Brothers unable to profit from their huge storefronts packed with product and massive sales volume, whereas Kiton can run a very comfortable profit off two salespeople and a handful of sales per month? Well, Brooks is selling average product to your average middle to upper class family. Brooks has a razor thin profit margin and need huge sales volume to barely stay afloat. Trying to maintain that volume of sales puts pressure on the company to cut corners where possible, and the level of quality doesn't allow for some intimate relationship between Brooks and their customers to customize their experience. Whereas Kiton caters to an ultra niche crowd who are either extreme hobbyists looking to wear a Kiton specifically or the fabulously wealthy who just need a suit and buy Kiton because clearly a $10,000 price tag must mean quality. Kiton's profit margin is also significant compared to the materials and labor going into their product, and just one sale likely pays for all their operating expenses with any additional sales going to pure profit.

I think we are in the process, and have been for a while now, of a "specialization" revolution of the retail marketplace. Online-only and big chains can handle the needs for 99% of the people out there who are just looking for something because they need to check a box (i.e., I need some undershirts because it's getting cold, I need new underwear because mine are fraying, etc). But most people have some sort of hobby or passion where they care more about a certain product or service than your average consumer. Usually when you're an enthusiast, you need specialized products which a general supplier won't stock as they couldn't hope to sell it under normal circumstances. These enthusiasts are going to seek out those specialist shops and keep them in business, and the non-enthusiasts are going to continue to give their business to Amazon and keep them in business. Anyone in between these two extremes will be pushed out of the market. This is something I think we're going to see continue to unfold and businesses definitely need to adapt to it.

Unfortunately many of the mom and pop shops that were on the edge have closed due to the pandemic yet Amazon/Target/Walmart/etc. have enjoyed record profits the past few months. What is interesting to me, is the actual lockdown was very short in most places and non-existent in others yet consumers continue to shop at Amazon and the big box stores rather than at the local mom and pop retailer. To my earlier point, we have either been trained to chase the lowest price or most people are barely getting by and cannot afford to spend more money than is absolutely necessary but ultimately it leads to the same result; the local mom and pop shop may be gone forever.

It a viscous cycle in that we all want cheaper cost goods but companies want to maintain profits so outsourcing to other countries with cheaper labor costs occurs and then "average" people loose their jobs and can't afford to buy what they need even at the cheaper big box store. They only people winning are the ultra wealthy like Bezos who has doubled his net worth during the pandemic. The country is turning into a two class society which is really bad; you are either poor or very wealthy and the dream of the upwardly mobile middle class is a thing of the past unless we do something about it very very soon (and no, this is not a political statement in any way as both the democrat and republican middle class are getting screwed and often are becoming poorer).

As to specialization and hobbyists, that is mostly going to cater to the wealthy as how many people can really afford a $6000 bike, a $10,000 suit, several pair of high quality shoes, and all the (unnecessary) luxury goods we all aspire to own in our consumer spend driven economy since we no longer make anything. Heck, we can't even manufacture PPE (FFS) in this country.

I also think social media is not helping as it has taken "keeping up with the johnses" to a whole new level. We are all chasing these manufactured lives on social media that are not real yet we want them to be our own and we are willing to put ourselves in massive debt to do it.
 
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audog

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I find it interesting, that during the "lockdown" due to COVID in my state, I couldn't go to a local Mom&Pop type of store (which I have done business with for 30 yrs) due to them being "non-essential" to buy jeans. I would have bought them from that store, even if more expensive, as I know the people, like the service, etc. HOWEVER, I could go to Wal*Mart (essential??? business) and buy jeans or other apparel, as they were not shut down by the state. It seems to me, an unfair political move...prompting me to oppose those currently in office and vote for the "other guys".
 

audog

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All of this circles back to my comments yesterday about a RELATIONSHIP being important in sales. Case in point...I have had a deposit on a pair of another companies shoes out there for a couple of months. Recently found out that I can't/shouldn't wear shoes w/o orthotics. The shoes on pre-order won't accommodate the orthotics. Because of my relationship with the retailer, I managed to apply the pre-order deposit to a pair of boots (which do work with the orthotics) and solved two problems. 1) my foot issues 2) his desire to sell a pair of boots. This would not have been possible unless I had a relationship with the retailer and contacted him to see if it was possible. It was possible "Because you are a good customer, we can do it for you"....My point, cultivate a relationship with a SA and a store, be loyal, even if you may pay a bit more initially, it will pay off in the long run (and keep smaller businesses open).
 

EZB

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I find it interesting, that during the "lockdown" due to COVID in my state, I couldn't go to a local Mom&Pop type of store (which I have done business with for 30 yrs) due to them being "non-essential" to buy jeans. I would have bought them from that store, even if more expensive, as I know the people, like the service, etc. HOWEVER, I could go to Wal*Mart (essential??? business) and buy jeans or other apparel, as they were not shut down by the state. It seems to me, an unfair political move...prompting me to oppose those currently in office and vote for the "other guys".
It was likely more circumstance than politics. Stores that sold essential items were deemed essential and thus could sell anything in their inventory. The alternative would have been to only allow the essential stores to sell essential items.
 

audog

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It was likely more circumstance than politics. Stores that sold essential items were deemed essential and thus could sell anything in their inventory. The alternative would have been to only allow the essential stores to sell essential items.
All I can tell is my friends, who have owned a clothing store for 3 generations, are going out of business due to the Governments edict that they were "not essential", good business, great product, perhaps a little more expensive than online, but a small business. 2 owner/employee and 4 others employed. That is 5 families out of a job, due to not being "essential". I realize that COVID changed things, but these folks were careful, demanded masks before the government did, limited people in the store, appointment only, all to keep open during COVID, but our state government killed their business...makes me sick.
 

JFWR

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All I can tell is my friends, who have owned a clothing store for 3 generations, are going out of business due to the Governments edict that they were "not essential", good business, great product, perhaps a little more expensive than online, but a small business. 2 owner/employee and 4 others employed. That is 5 families out of a job, due to not being "essential". I realize that COVID changed things, but these folks were careful, demanded masks before the government did, limited people in the store, appointment only, all to keep open during COVID, but our state government killed their business...makes me sick.
Me too.

The government has ruined the livelihoods of millions of Americans while allowing big businesses to stay open whilst endangering their workers.

We will never fully recover from this because of the damage we have wrought.
 

audog

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Me too.

The government has ruined the livelihoods of millions of Americans while allowing big businesses to stay open whilst endangering their workers.

We will never fully recover from this because of the damage we have wrought.
Late Antiquity, it killed Rome. History repeats itself????
 

Lionel Hutz

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Serious question: Which AE do I keep (or return)? I can keep both, one, or none but can't seem make a decision for myself. I am new to all of this as I only had the two Alden up until about 18 months ago.

(L to R, formal to casual)
  • Alden black (keep)
  • Alden walnut (keep)
  • Strand coffee (keep or return)
  • Carmina brown suede (keep)
  • Wilbert brown (keep)
  • Wilbert dark brown (keep or return)
My issues are:
  • Apartment living leaves minimal space for shoes
  • I still need a Chukka
  • The Strand is not like the others, out of my usual comfort zone, and I'm not sure how much use it will get in my more casual lifestyle. What goes best with a coffee Strand anyway?
  • The Wilbert Dark brown is MUSA and took some time to find, is great and functional for casual weekend wear especially in the Northeast but is it too boring since I already have a MUSA brown one.

So, do I keep both, one, or none knowing that if I keep both it limits what other shoes I may get to round out the collection knowing that 8 total would be a lot and I doubt I could go to 10. Thoughts, opinions, and conjecture all welcome.

View attachment 1483245
Keep strand, return dark wilbert (your dark wilbert is better than the light wilbert but you don’t need 2 Wilberts (many would say 1 is too many))
 
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tcbinnc

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Had reason to head into the office today on a nice, casual Friday - Whatever that means in the Bay Area. Really loving the TS 20.1 suede Leeds for pretty much any occasion. Included is the AE Fulton briefcase which was picked up during the Buy More Save More sale, which I was undoubtedly psychologically manipulated into by my SA (No regrets, though)!

View attachment 1483288


Nice Ridgefields! They look well taken care of. Are you the original owner?


Milhouse is just the cutest. I actually made this whole post just for an opportunity to say this, no joke. You are doing the Good Work!


"Why are you buying more brown shoes? All your shoes are brown!" is pretty commonly heard around here. One day we will collectively make people understand the incredible difference in personality between Tobacco and Cognac colored shoes!



It's good that we're talking about this subject. There are several people I know personally who complain about mom & pop stores going under while simultaneously frequenting Walmart for every product possible and utilizing their Amazon Prime membership for everything else, and then blame Walmart and Amazon for those small businesses going under. Unfortunately a lot of these mom & pop type places were running plain vanilla versions of these stores - a small local grocer or convenience store - and there was very little to distinguish them from the big chains besides a lower product selection at a higher price point.

My tailor and I were having a discussion the other day about running a storefront business in the current climate, and we touched on exactly the phenomenon you're describing. Why is a place like Brooks Brothers unable to profit from their huge storefronts packed with product and massive sales volume, whereas Kiton can run a very comfortable profit off two salespeople and a handful of sales per month? Well, Brooks is selling average product to your average middle to upper class family. Brooks has a razor thin profit margin and need huge sales volume to barely stay afloat. Trying to maintain that volume of sales puts pressure on the company to cut corners where possible, and the level of quality doesn't allow for some intimate relationship between Brooks and their customers to customize their experience. Whereas Kiton caters to an ultra niche crowd who are either extreme hobbyists looking to wear a Kiton specifically or the fabulously wealthy who just need a suit and buy Kiton because clearly a $10,000 price tag must mean quality. Kiton's profit margin is also significant compared to the materials and labor going into their product, and just one sale likely pays for all their operating expenses with any additional sales going to pure profit.

I think we are in the process, and have been for a while now, of a "specialization" revolution of the retail marketplace. Online-only and big chains can handle the needs for 99% of the people out there who are just looking for something because they need to check a box (i.e., I need some undershirts because it's getting cold, I need new underwear because mine are fraying, etc). But most people have some sort of hobby or passion where they care more about a certain product or service than your average consumer. Usually when you're an enthusiast, you need specialized products which a general supplier won't stock as they couldn't hope to sell it under normal circumstances. These enthusiasts are going to seek out those specialist shops and keep them in business, and the non-enthusiasts are going to continue to give their business to Amazon and keep them in business. Anyone in between these two extremes will be pushed out of the market. This is something I think we're going to see continue to unfold and businesses definitely need to adapt to it.
The Brooks Brothers store nearest to me reduced their store size by about a third due to decreasing foot traffic and that was before covid. As it happens, I received a big box from them today with online purchases I made during their latest sale. The pricing amounted to half off, less 35% and another 15% off that with a coupon code I seem able to reuse about every year or so. (try BC1818). Tomorrow I'll be going through the box of seven shirts, two pair of pants, two cashmere sweaters and my first pair of cashmere socks. All delivered for just under $650... and by BB standards a very good value, imho. The pants I can tell already are going back though (too thin for wool, imho) and the rest look to have their usual better quality fabric and detail so are keepers as long as the fit is good. I tend to have problems with arm length in "xl" sized sport shirts (a bit too long) such as BB offers and I am trying the regent fit which I hope works out in the body. If not then I am already eyeing Spier and Mackay who I notice offers them, as with dress shirts, in specific neck size/arm lengths. And yes, even with just "clicking" this process is still work, for sure.

A few doors down from BB is a nice looking Allen Edmonds store from which I only ever purchased one pair of shoes, with the other 16 all acquired online and with no issues. Also from them online, I recently received two sport coats, two pants and a few shirts which I'll be deciding on tomorrow, too. The jackets I know already look very good.
Once a holdout, even BB now offers free postage-paid returns. I've got both Neiman Marcus and Peter Millar purchases to be returned, too, and also which will be free and postage paid.

So while always a gamble on sizing and actual quality, online purchasing has made me lazy (and covid, leary) about frequenting the stores as I'm not going to visit them all every time their offerings change when I can do so from home with just a few clicks. At the same time, if internet purchasing went away tomorrow, I'd be happy with visiting the stores as mall shopping used to be an "event" and I've always enjoyed viewing the displays and actually getting to feel and try on the product before purchase. Except for in BB and AE, I'm not one to talk to sales people so I'm really not missing out there, especially with AE and all the up-to-the-minute "intel" I receive from all of you. And, as I think about it, AE is the brand I feel closest to, (besides that they're shoes, so... ) and which is also due to my interactions made here. Perhaps I should seek out forums for the other sources but I'm not that motivated to do so.
Anyway, if nothing else, all the above is one man's (long-winded but still condensed) experience and outlook on shopping these brands. Thanks.​
 
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