Two Brothers Swimming Against the Amazon: Rochester’s Village Lamp Shop

Don’t tell me you haven’t done it–found something in a store, then guiltily taken out your phone to find a better deal on Amazon, Craig’s List or eBay.

You could argue with your guilty ol’ self and say that in the days before apps, it was similar to heading into the tire store with a newspaper add of a competitor’s price and asking them to beat it.  But now, you just have to click the little button and the … Read More…

Garage Sale Ethics: Lessons Learned Over 40 Years


It’s like a slow-motion drive-by shooting, only less friendly.  They are the dealers—the arch-enemy of the true garage-saler.

You’re sitting on your lawn-chair beside three coffee makers, two toaster ovens and half an illegal lawn jart set. Your garage sale just opened at 9 AM. You know it’s 9 AM because the dealers … Read More…

Making People Feel Like Dummies: Swimming the Treacherous Waters of Sheldons

I’ve had some pretty memorable conversations at the checkout counter at Radio Shack:

  • “So you need a male-to-male connector…” (I was fourteen, buying some cables for my stereo–a bit startled by this apparent pickup line.)
  • “Can I please have your address?” (Perhaps another line, but I was just paying cash.)

And my favorite, when I was buying a 25-foot audio cable…

  • “May I ask what you’ll be using this for?”

The … Read More…

Micro Toy, Big Disappointment

I go into FedEx a lot. At every FedEx in the country, they place these really unhealthy snacks at the counter. Namely, those really good-looking but surely-disappointing white chocolate covered pretzels, Flipz, are always sitting at the counter for purchase. They are strategically placed, of course, so that when a busy businessman or woman waiting in line at FedEx sees those bags of Flipz he or she will say to him or herself: “Damn. I … Read More…

Perhaps the “F” and “Y” stand for something else…


I might as well have said, “The crow flies at midnight.”

It felt that cloak-and-dagger.

“Can I help you, sir?” asked the manager.

“Hi.  I just want to cancel my membership.”

She frowned, nodded, walked behind the counter, grabbed a coupon and wrote on the back of it, handed it to me … Read More…

Amazon, My Guilty Conscience and the Decline of Detroit Shopping


I was waiting for some photos to get developed at Meijer–a Michigan-based store where I had done my shopping since they opened in 1977, a short bike ride from my house. It was an enormous place–“Thrifty Acres” they called themselves.

Even now, when I walk through the produce area, … Read More…