Thursday, September 17, 2009

Smart/Dumb Like a Fox (in Faux Fur)?

My friend Laura Benedict has lost her mind. Or has she? You may know Laura from her novels,
Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts and Isabella Moon, or the anthology she edited, Surreal South, or her blog, Notes From the Handbasket. How do I know her? From MySpace, of course.

As I learned today, however, she's got a brand new bag, so to speak. She's decided, as she explains, "to spend a year shopping exclusively at one of the world's most reviled but also most innovative retailers--Wal-Mart (including and Sam's Club)--for all of my clothes, accessories, makeup, jewelry, lingerie and shoes. This is a personal challenge for me." Amen, sister.

She'll chronicle her experience at her new-new blog, Wardrobe by Sam, where she'll seek the answer to the question, "Can a Self-Confessed Clothing Snob Find a Year's Worth of Fashion Happiness at the World's Biggest Discount Store?" I don't know, Laura, can you? Let's all find out together. Personally, I can't wait for the post in which she's forced to ask for a bra fitting, but that's just the way I am.


Arthur Brock said...

Hi Jody,

Since you're promotion of Laura's blog is how I found out about it, I'd like to share with you a comment that I posted there. I just posted it, so there's been no response yet.


I'm curious why you would spend so much of your time, attention and energy in the course of a year to give free advertising and promotion to this multi-national behemoth.

I'd wager that there are small, local clothiers who would die for the marketing exposure you are going to provide for Wal-Mart. And I do mean this literally.
Within the next year, locally-owned businesses in your area will die. And the dollars, promotion, attention and awareness that you are sending to Wal-Mart (apparently for free?) would have been enough to keep them in business.

It sounds like this scheme of yours was concocted as a bit of a lark. And maybe it isn't your responsibility to keep our locally-owned businesses afloat. But then again, if we don't, who will?

I'd prefer a world with some local flavor and character, but it is certainly within your rights to help paint the world a bit more corporate and uniform.

Your plan stirs a vision within me of the impact that another writer has made through a self-created challenge that she undertook for one year. Barbara Kingsolver wrote the story of her decision, for herself and her family, to eat only food produced within 100 miles. Her book has been an inspiration and helped thousands of people move away from corporate, processed, nutritionless food toward habits which sustain their health, their lives and their communities.

I challenge you to be similarly responsible for the impact of your actions and words. Rather than helping create a world where every article of clothing available is an echo of faded glory from a Chinese sweat shop, you could tell a story of local artists & designers. You could weave new connections among your neighbors and friends.

What if a self-professed clothing snob eschewed EVERY national brand and corporate label for apparel which let you look into the eyes of the person who designed or created it.

What story do you really want to tell?

The pen is in your hands.

Jody Reale said...

Art, I love the kind of conversation, exploration, and discovery that the Interwebz affords us. Thanks for your comment. I don't know what will come of Laura's experiment--and that's what I like it. Maybe the results will turn out to be just as important as Kingsolver's, or as unexpected as other "larkish" dares. Or not. I, too, look forward to Laura's reply.

Laura Benedict said...

Thanks for mentioning my new venture, sweetie! We suffer the vagaries of Verizon out here in the boonies, so our internet has been hinky all day. I've responded to everyone, though, in various places.

You'll be relieved to know that I don't own any fur--except for something on a collar that I got as a gift long ago and an ancient stole from grandmama that the kids use for costumes. xo