Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Metropolitan Consumers

Wayne and I recently bought a Sleep Number bed. Our old mattress was aging and we wanted to get a king if possible. Of course, with our old house with its 90-degree turn at both the bottom and the top of the staircase, we knew that getting a "normal" king-sized mattress into our bedroom was an impossibility. So we looked at the Sleep Number bed, as the bed arrives in pieces and is assembled in the bedroom.

We kid you not, that was a deciding factor in looking at a Sleep Number bed.

While the girls were away at birthday parties one Saturday afternoon, we had a couple of hours to ourselves so we drove to the nearest Sleep Number store, about 2 miles from our house. We shopped, tried different beds, talked about whether or not we wanted to make this investment, and ultimately signed on the dotted line. A week and a half later a crew of two guys showed up at our house, hauled away our old mattress and assembled the bed for us. By that evening we had a brand new bed for us, and a new "toy" for the girls, who thought that having a remote for a bed was DA BOMB.

The girls putting our new bed to use.
I was talking to my dad about our latest purchase, and he was slightly envious. "We used to have a Sleep Number store in Jonesboro," he said wistfully. That's the closest big city to them, about 25 miles away. There would be no way they would get a bed delivered and set up at their home by Select Comfort employees anytime soon with no store location near them now.

My mom said their customer service stunk, which is why they didn't buy one. She and my step dad drove to Green Bay, WI to shop for a bed, and found out that they do not live in the delivery area. The store would have shipped them the bed in pieces for them to assemble themselves. If they weren't happy with it they could break it back down, put it back into the original boxes (yeah right) and ship it back within 30 days for a full refund. She figured they would lose a week on both ends of that equation just to put the damn bed up, so they never bought one.

I wouldn't say that Select Comfort has poor customer service, I would say that my mom lives too far away from the store to get customer service.

My niece who lives in California was in her hometown of Tracy, Minnesota, visiting over the holidays. She wanted to make a salad and went to the grocery store with her mom to get the ingredients.

"I can't find the cucumbers," she called to her mom as she was looking over the produce department.

"Cucumbers are out of season," her mom calls back, "They don't carry them this time of year." My niece looked at her mom like she was from Mars.

Recently I had an exchange with a high school classmate of mine who sent me a recipe for an Irish soda bread. He recommended using Red Mill flour in this particular recipe, so I went to the store to buy some. I snapped this picture, sent it back to him and wrote, "Which kind?"

Wheat flour? Whole wheat flour? Semolina flour? Soy flour? Oat flour?

These are ALL Red Mill brands of flour. Crazy.
 He assumed I was at a specialty store; I was at my local grocery store. And apparently the answer was "Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour," which wasn't even in the section I was looking in, because it is so "plain."

We take this level of access to choices for granted.

Want to buy an expensive bottle of wine for a special occasion? We've got 3 wine stores near us to choose from, which one did you want to try first?

Did you want to go to a restaurant that only serves vegetarian food from Ethiopia? It's called "Blue Nile," and I drive by it on the way home from work. Or you could have your pick from any one of over a thousand  restaurants in the area, serving cuisine from every corner of the globe.

From clothing to household goods to food, we are lucky. Not only can we afford these purchases (which I am grateful for every day), but we have easy access to these goods and services living where we live.


  1. Oh how I miss my co-op, local neighborhood yarn store, and dozens of favorite restaurants all within a bike ride. Yesterday we ate at Applebees and felt like we've really given up now, but we are so tired of the 4 or 5 non-chain restaurants here...almost all of which are burger places. And this is a city of over 100,000. I could never go smaller.

  2. Yes, small towns do have the inconveniences and require a little more effort for some things. I certainly enjoy visiting Jenny's because of the neighborhood feel it has. However, I live on 10 acres in a log cabin. We do not go out to eat very often. We find most foods that we wish to try. We also have a peace and quiet that is the envy of many. I can walk around my property and feel a sense of security and privacy. Because of where we live my home is not locked, my garage is often left open and my vehicles are never locked. It is a trade off, and I have become accustomed to the tranquility and slow pace life can take on. As far as a sleep bed, depending on what Jenny reports I may very well make the investment. My other daughter Kristi has had one for years and loves it. I've read reviews, researched and think it would be worthwhile. So because of the work involved, which I am capable of doing, I just have to take more time to locate things that I want. I am only a mile from Lowe's and and ACE hardware, they have just about everything that interests me. Plus, internet shopping is very convenient. I'll stay small thank you.

  3. Absolutely, Dad, there are LOTS of perks to small town living. I think those of us living in metro areas focus on the traffic, the cost of living, the busy-ness of life and forget about the perks of where we live, i.e. convenience and choice when it comes to consumerism.

  4. Yes, there are always trade-offs. I look at it this way. We had to drive an hour to look at a Sleep Number bed, which we did once. Mark's commute to work took him 10 min one way which he did 5 days a week for years. Not having a long commute saved days and days over the years, not to mention the stress.
    It's also kind of fun going to a local store (usually grocery) and always seeing someone you know and doing some visiting. What we're really finding out in our retirement years is how little we eat out because we don't want to, how little we shop because our needs AND wants are so few. What we are fortunate to have here is that we still have lots of good art/entertainment opportunities and with easy driving/parking. Guess I've always been a small town girl at heart and very much still am.