Tag Archives: Shopping

Person: Ralph Lauren


Ralph Lauren started out selling neckties to his classmates in high school. Today he's the world's 173rd richest person according to Forbes, with personal wealth estimated at $4.6 billion. Uploaded by dapperq.com.

Some people struggle through their lives, never finding what they’re meant to do, never experiencing more than a regular paycheck. Then there are those, like Ralph Lauren, who seem to understand their destiny from an early age. While still in high school, Ralph Lauren was known by his classmates as the guy who sold them neckties. In the yearbook he wrote that he wanted to be a millionaire.

Uploaded by examiner.com.

In the ensuing years, he’s sold neckties and every other piece of casual clothing that goes on the human body under his “Polo Ralph Lauren” brand. And he’s expanded into fragrances, bedding and bath products, furniture, and home decor. He now presides over one of the largest retail empires in the world, with annual sales in 2009 of just over five billion dollars.

Lauren has mastered the art of selling in tiers – the purple label for high rollers, the black label just below that, down to Polo, Polo Denim, Polo Golf, Polo Sport, etc. He’s ridden that polo pony to riches and fame. So how did the dream of the boy born Ralph Lifshitz do on his dream of becoming a millionaire? Pretty good, I’d say — Forbes named him the 173rd richest person in the world with a personal fortune estimated at $4.6 billion. Buddy, that’s a lot of neckties.

Americana: Warehouse Club Stores


Costco is the largest of the warehouse club chains by sales, Sam's Club has the most domestic locations. Uploaded by besenretail.wordpress.com.

Personally, I love the warehouse stores. Of course, you don’t go to the warehouse store for a pack of gum. You go for a 24-pack. And if you want a can of green beans, it’s going to be a 6-lb. can. But that’s part of the attraction, even part of the fun, of shopping there.

Uploaded by heraldtimesonline.com.

The major competitors in this retail segment are, in order of market share, Costco, Sam’s Club, and B.J.’s Wholesale Club. Sam’s Club actually has the most stores operating in the U.S., but Costco earns more per store.

And what stores they are! Selling to small businesses as well as individuals, the stores carry merchandise across a wide spectrum of categories. Food, electronics, jewelry, office supplies, eyeglasses, medicine, appliances, furniture, clothing, books, sporting goods, auto supplies.

I’ve gone in my local Sam’s, bought maybe $40 of merchandise, and realized I was the only person in sight who wasn’t spending at least a C note. The average sale at these stores is breathtaking. Oh, and I forgot to mention one attraction: food samples. Get a half-slice of pizza, a couple of crackers with cheese and luncheon meat, maybe a piece of sausage – you never know what’s going to be there, but it’s like trick or treating without having to dress up.

Americana: Mall of America

Inside Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. Uploaded to Flickr by Poppyseed Bandits.

Inside Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. Uploaded to Flickr by Poppyseed Bandits.

It’s a basic element of American culture. We like our stuff supersized. First there was the strip shopping center. Then the mall. Then the regional mall. Finally (?) we got ourselves the big ol’ honking mall on steroids, aka the Mall of America.

Okay, you can’t tell this story without some factoids, so here they are. This Bloomington, Minnesota behemoth encompasses 4.2 million square feet. It has 4.3 miles of storefront footage. It has more than 520 stores. Up to 13,000 people are employed there. There are 12,550 parking spaces. And each year, some 40 million folks visit the mall.

Uploaded to Flickr by auntbub55.

Uploaded to Flickr by auntbub55.

One of the things that sets MOA apart is its non-shopping attractions. Nickelodeon Universe, with its two roller coasters, is the country’s largest indoor theme park. Underwater Adventures Aquarium has more than 4,500 sea creatures. And a four-story LEGO world is a children’s favorite. This is in addition to 14 movie theaters, 18 full service restaurants, and the 350 events hosted annually.

And here’s the most amazing part: They’re expanding the thing. A new 306,000-square-foot IKEA store has opened, and that’s just part of the 5.2 million-square-foot new phase that will include a branch of the Mayo Clinic, hotels, a water park, and the new home of the Statue of Liberty.

Just kidding about the statue. Probably.