Thursday, November 13, 2008

Drams.


I got this email today. Thought I would throw it out there. Read it, then my comments following, and let me know what you think. Especially if your name is Glen Senk.



Dear Decorno,

I've never emailed you before, but I am an avid reader of your blog. I'm a fellow Seattleite, and I don't know where I was going with that...but your blog rocks. Anyway, I'm writing you because I don't know where else to turn to, and we need to do a MAJOR expose on the evil empire known as Anthro. I have a friend (totally reliable source) who used to be a manager there, and here is his horrifying tale: After the store had had furniture and accessories for a long time, and after they had been slightly marked down on sale and not sold, he had to take the merchandise and mark it down to "ten cents" (I'm assuming for bookkeeping purposes). After that, he had to take it in the back room and DESTROY it. He says: "I've literally taken a hammer to plates, thousand-dollar chandeliers and more." Even the vintage stuff. If he had taken it home without destroying it, he would have been fired. If he had given it to a co-worker, he would have been fired. Do you want to know why they have this outrageous policy? Two words (their words): "Brand Integrity." They couldn't mark it down so low that people could "expect to walk in to Anthropologie and find a deal."

I nearly died when I heard this story. Can you freakin' believe that? Perhaps we (or you, via your blog) can get the word out to boycott stupid Anthro. Or...to maybe buy everything that's on sale so that it doesn't get destroyed? Ha, I'm not sure what would be the better method. I promise I'm not a crazy...so...hopefully this doesn't make me one by being really upset at this bit of inside info.

Sincerely,

One of your loyal bitches,

S


Decorno says: Hmm. Well, here's the thing. I can totally understand not wanting to turn my Anthropologie store into Clearance Mart. Every retailer sets a lowest-price threshold and won't have merchandise on the floor under that price because (a) it's skanky for your brand... unless you are Dollar Tree and (b) every square foot of your floor space should generate a certain amount of money, so at some point, you should liquidate items. Everyone knows this is why some brands have outlet stores. Anthro isn't an outlet store kind of place, though, I imagine. I mean, once you see a crocheted Christmas ornament at an Anthro Outlet, the jig is up, right? Because you would be standing there thinking, "Oh fuck, did I really pay $14 for this? Because it's a piece of shit, just like that lame Mexican tunic from last spring."

Anyhoo, I am not sure how Anthro handles clearance items, except to say that I hope they let a manager take home a roughed-up sofa. For what little retail managers & hourly workers are paid, the least they should get is a free bent-wood chair or weird Swedish armoire that never sold, right?

If anyone from Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters is reading this, let us know your thoughts on the Great Chandelier Destruction Controversy of 2008. Let's hope sad managers aren't destroying shit in the backroom when your Conner Oberst-listening employees could use said items to trick out their pads.

-Decorno

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

its a tax write-off if merch. is 'damaged' , which is why the hammer is most likely implemented. sad, you know they could get the same tax deduction for donating that stuff to charities like habitat for humanity.
another company that is all image, zero substance.....sigh.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of this practice going on a retail clothing stores and even fast food. For example - McDonalds must throw away (in a locked dumpster) all their unused food and can not give it away to a shelter or anything. I think I heard of this going on at Abercrombie as well. I think Decorno's point is valid.. it's not the best thing to do as far as avoided waste goes but I understand the practice of "protecting the brand"

Anonymous said...

That's horrible. I know someone that worked at one of the Walgreen's chains and they would also discard old stock. Imagine my friend watching kids toys go in a dumpster at holiday time. Now this may be just one of the store managers that authorized this, but I think this could be an interesting topic for Dateline or something. Bring this shit out in the open. There are too many people struggling right now and could use any freebies/discards.

Jessica Claire said...

i agree with anon- they should donate it away to people in need, not destroy it!

If corporate stands proud than perhaps a covert operation transporting said crocheted ornaments and other more useful items to a good will is in this manager's future?

bkhdesign blog said...

love the chair

mamacita said...

Question: If they "destroyed" the furniture at Anthro, how would anyone know the difference?

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised by this story but totally disappointed nonetheless.

I was an Anthro vendor for many years till I closed my company 3 years. Things really changed with them when they went public. Answering to shareholders creates strange internal policies.

Paris Hotel Boutique said...

Okay guys/gals, theses stories are making me so upset that I just went to the Dateline site and submitted a copy of the letter, as well as some of my own commentary. Let's see if Chris Hansen picks it up. The waste is appalling!

Anonymous said...

It IS appalling, and morally nauseating. And yet... The only thing that distinguishes this story is that it happens in secret. Corporations have hundreds of ways of being uncharitable, and most are quite public.

Every day, corporations make choices, very public choices, to not be charitable when they could be. Think of all the wasteful corporate "sponsorship" out there: huge signs in sports arenas, to name just one small-scale example. That's money that could be going to a charity, right?

lisa said...

i used to work for urban outfitters. same company as anthropologie. so this is how it works. once an item is not selling it goes to a first markdown. still not selling... second markdown. after that, "dimeout". it doesn't mean it's 10 cents, its just the term for it. once an item is dimed out, it is either boxed up and shipped back to the company and/or vendor or donated to charity.
BUT some items aren't really worth shipping, i.e. a couch or chandelier. typically these items are auctioned off to the staff. and when no one wants it... hammers, dumpsters, etc.

it's really not the tragedy you think it is. i've seen a lot of really nice couches be given away to some really deserving starving sales associates.

JJ said...

Is there an employee discount at Anthro and UO?

Anonymous said...

The procedure at UO you describe sounds acceptible, but just destroying merch seems an utter waste. I've heard before about McDonalds throwing away burgers that have been made more than X minutes ago... That's one of the things that are at the basis of the very low esteem I have of them. I don't eat there.
But now - even Anthro?!? I think there's nothing wrong with selling your old merch in an outlet store. People who buy there usually won't buy items in the regular store and if they do - they're just happy with there bargain. I am, at least. I know that at the A&F outlet I won't find the best pieces, but when I find a nice leather belt for $5, hey - I'm happy. And I associate happy with A&F which means I also feel happy walking into the normal A&F store and buying a shirt full-price.

Anonymous said...

You'd think Habitat would be the way to go. It's not like Anthro's brand is obvious or known. A fixture or chair would go nameless into a new habitat home.
I wonder if Chanel and Hermes are destroying old lipsticks and ties.
"Well Clarice, have the Hermes Ties stopped screaming, err, I mean lambs?"

ArchitectDesign said...

Back in college I worked at a Pier one and we were SUPPOSED to destroy the items that were deemed 'unsellable' -however...I generally would hide them and take them home with me as would all my coworkers. The manager allowed this and turned a blind eye (of course she was fired 1/2 way through my time there for nor following corporate policy!).

Anonymous said...

I understand why a company might not want to be associated with outlet-style retailing.

But what does that have to do with quietly offering unsellable items at a discount to store staff? THAT practice is small-scale and private.How does it injure "brand integrity"?

Anonymous said...

That sounds horrible. I have however bought things there for under $3. Like soap dishes, not chandeliers. But still, seems like a deal.

Anonymous said...

Also - sounds kind of like what they do with books @ major retailers, where they rip off the back covers and throw them away. I've heard that they can't donate those for legal reasons either. Something is wrong with the way we consume when so much waste is built into the system.

Anonymous said...

@Lisa: Maybe some stores are different...though I do hope that more than not they offer the staff the option of taking pieces home.

I used to work at Banana Republic and when old artwork was switched out with new for the season, what wasn't shipped back or put in storage had to be destroyed. It was company policy to destroy it. This often included the frames and/or prop accessories. We had these amazing, huge, framed canvases in the hallway to our bathroom that one manager saved because he didn't have the heart to throw them out. He says they still might make him take them down. It's supposedly for copyright purposes, which is kind of understandable, but still.

Ayse said...

If you think about it, the reason why they don't offer these things to employees at discount or free is that it would set up a market for employees to compete with their employer.

Once the item becomes property of the employee they could do what they wanted with it, including re-selling it. So a smart employee would discourage customers from buying various items from the store, so they would be cleared out. He or she could then get the item for free and sell it. The store loses the sale, slides into bankruptcy, and so on.

As for the idea (in another comment) that McDonald's should hold onto old cooked food, I find that puzzling. Is the suggestion that they should sell clearance-priced food that is old? Or they should give food away for free? How is a business like McDonald's going to make any money at all if they give away their product? What is the motivation for them to do anything other than throw this food away? It's not like a charity can do much with day-old hamburgers, and it would be a significant hit to business if they had a line of people waiting for free stuff at the back door.

S said...

Ok guys, I'm glad you're all as incensed as I was! I wrote the email (thank you, Decorno, for posting) and I am going do some more investigative reporting. I'll ask my friend for more deets on this scandal and perhaps check the dumpsters behind my local Anthro. Well, maybe. Anyway, I'm glad people brought up other company's wasteful practices. Maybe Dateline could bundle them! I'm not some sort of hippie dippie environmentalist...but perfectly good things going to waste kind of irk me. Especially when it's furniture.

Anonymous said...

Nooo...not the vintage!

This is maddening. I am not an anthropologie shopper, but I'm even less likely to be one because of this wasteful and thoughtless practice.

There should be a list of companies that are too greedy to donate overstock merchandise to charity.

Anonymous said...

oh jeesh, when you all run a company YOU decide how you want to dispose of YOUR mechandise. let them run their company their way. they are successful for a reason.

kelly

Anonymous said...

I used to work at the local Anthropologie and whatever was dimed-out was usually given to the local woman's shelter around here.

So um, not quite as horrifying as you all seem to think.

thevintagechair said...

okay here's what anthropologie/urban outfitters needs to do: send all the crap you don't want to me. We don't even have those stores here, and it KILLS me...I'll give you my address, Antrho... hit me up.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't meet the definition of "scandal."

It's uncharitable, and wasteful, but no one is getting cheated. No one is being denied something he was promised.

Also, from other comments, I'm starting to wonder if it's a store- or district-specific practice, rather than a corporate policy.

Anonymous said...

The unfortunately reality is that there are many legal reasons why stores can't easily donate their unsold merch. Restaurants cannot give away unused food because if it were spoiled and someone in a shelter got sick, they could be sued. And so could the shelter, which is why they won't take any opened food.

As for furniture stores, while it makes no sense to destroy perfectly useable merch, the cost of donating - both in terms of staff time, shipping, storage, etc - is often prohibitive. So, while Anthro as a big retailer may have deep pockets on their corporate side, the individual store front probably has a very limited budget and the are the ones who soak up all the costs. Unfortunately, it is a total waste to destroy usable goods, but it seems like it would be the work of a non-profit or some kind of consortium to organize some way for the stores to offload the overstock without burdening their budgets (more than the unsold merch already has) and providing good corporate PR in the process.

Decorina said...

This is very convoluted. That said, some of the "off rack" resellers started by taking unsold merchandise from retailers REMOVING THE LABELS and reselling it. Loehmanns comes to mind. Why can't they do that?

Books are remaindered and sold at discount (some do have their covers removed and are destroyed).

I've worked retail (Ethan Allen)and the unsold stuff was marked down, then we got 50% off on it. We bought a great deal of it.

There has to be a better way than just destroying things. To the poster that said it was their corporate right to do whatever they wanted I can only say that having a social conscience wouldn't hurt and would go toward a global way of thinking that promotes caring for others instead of only yourself.

Leslie/Miss Havisham said...

I have a story about this issue! I was trying to fly from Philly to New Orleans after visiting a friend. I was in college in N.O. at the time and I HAD to get back to take an exam. This was an exam with a very strict professor and I knew there was no way I would be allowed to make it up if I was stranded in Philly in what turned out to be a massive blizzard.

My original flight got cancelled and they were unable to put me on the final flight of the night. I was told there was an open seat in business class. I asked how much that ticket would be. The difference between my ticket voucher for my missed flight and the business class seat was simply more money than I had in my checking account at the time (I was 21 freaking years old)

I asked about using my miles to upgrade so I could get on the flight and get home FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I had more miles than the monetary value that was being asked of me.

I was told it was the policy of Continental Airlines to not accept miles for this particular class of seats. How would the other people who paid money for these tickets feel if I were allowed to fly with them. I wanted to ask them how they would feel if I had to repeat a year of college.

So I asked for absolutely no service associated with business class. I wouldn't eat drink or do anything other than sit there and fly to New Orleans. I would give them all of my miles. I would have my parents pay them the money later. ANYTHING. They said it would be better to fly the plane with the seat empty to protect the "integrity of the product"

At the end of the day, I couldn't afford the ticket. I don't have a right to complain I guess but COME ON.

By the way the professor ended up letting me make up the exam later.

L said...

Many restaurants donate their unused food at the end of the night, from fast food to four star places. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some states or counties in which this is not legal, though.

Jewelry stores (I worked for one of the largest jewelry chains for 8 years) have been known to damage out merchandise that just won't sell. Technically, it's fraud. They're either lessening their tax liability for on-hand inventory or receiving insurance payments for merchandise.

Anonymous said...

This is not true...What "Lisa" (Urban Outfitters)ex-employee said is true. They do in fact "dime out" the items and a lot of time the items are taken for donation.

-current Urban Outfitters Inc. employee

Anonymous said...

I'm a former manager at Anthro. Yes on the discount, JJ. 40% of clothing (at all urban brands), 25% off home items, nada off sale.

The company policy as of last year was to zero non-moving items out in the system and send it to a collection center, presumably to be donated in bulk. Prior to 2007 our store (can't speak for others) donated the zeroed out items, and destroyed those that were damaged beyond use or to the point of danger (glasses, ceramic, etc.) With the newer policy, if something is too large to ship to the collection center, it gets trashed. We ALWAYS tried to repair something, mark it down ridiculously, whatever it took, because the loss affected our profit. I have many qualms with the company (not environmentally minded, far from progressive in their treatment of employees, basically your typical retailer) but this "diming out" issue was not one of them.

Holly @ Maison James said...

It sounds like a policy that varies based on the unit.

My local Target donates all of their damaged & unsold stuff to Goodwill. It's not the elite anthro brand but I actually think more highly of Target for doing this. It boosts their brand in my eyes.

We all know that Anthro stuff is mostly crap. But it's expensive and pretty and destroying it is just wrong on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Anthro for close to 5 years the damage policy described is entirely true I saw so much waste and destruction it would curl your toes. Did you ever wonder what happened to all the display items?? one word TRASH!! I think its time to take Anthro
off their pedestal and remember they are a retail store in business to make MONEY.

Ayse said...

By the way, for those who think food donations risk liability, there has been a federal law in the US since 1996 protecting donors from such lawsuits. Since federal law on such issues trumps state/local laws, nowhere in the US is there any legal reason why a restaurant cannot donate food.

However, most food banks prefer food that is edible, which pretty much excludes McDonald's, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I have personally taken the hammer to the Anthro merch! Told to do so by my store manager! Not everything that was dimeout but some amazing beautiful items!!

Anonymous said...

in fact...once in a blue moon we'd receive something in shipment that was already dimeout. Guess what? Yep hammer time before anyone even got a chance to see the items!

Anonymous said...

i used to work for Chanel, and we used to cut the buttons off and send the clothes through a wood chipper. i used to want to cry.

Anonymous said...

All of these examples are very disturbing. I'm not really sure if I can even put my finger on, or articulate why. But i think it has something to do with our patterns of consumption, and our taken-for-granted ideas about what consitutes "good business" and "protecting the brand."

The trouble is, as we all know, underneath it all, too often "the brand" is a sham. All smoke and mirrors, artifically inflated prices, fake "scarcity' and, so, not suprisingly, we feel cheated.

It is doubly disturbing to see 21st century "brands" who espouse care for the environment, etc., routinely engaged in these wasteful practices.

If something is truly unique, innovative, hand-made, of real quality, I am more than willing to pay a fair price to honor those authentic qualities.

But the artificiality and carnival-like tacics of consumer manipulation piss me off. Personally, I don't pay homage or bow before the alter of "brands."

Anonymous said...

All of these examples are very disturbing. I'm not really sure if I can even put my finger on, or articulate why. But i think it has something to do with our patterns of consumption, and our taken-for-granted ideas about what consitutes "good business" and "protecting the brand."

The trouble is, as we all know, underneath it all, too often "the brand" is a sham. All smoke and mirrors, artifically inflated prices, fake "scarcity' and, so, not suprisingly, we feel cheated.

It is doubly disturbing to see 21st century "brands" who espouse care for the environment, etc., routinely engaged in these wasteful practices.

If something is truly unique, innovative, hand-made, of real quality, I am more than willing to pay a fair price to honor those authentic qualities.

But the artificiality and carnival-like tacics of consumer manipulation piss me off. Personally, I don't pay homage or bow before the alter of "brands."

happy for an opportunity to be heard said...

I agree with this comment exactly:

Something is wrong with the way we consume when so much waste is built into the system.

Why are we able to rationalize that such practices are justified in order to protect a "brand image"? Our society's culture really needs to re-prioritize the characteristics it attributes to a "good brand image."

My own "codes" have evolved in recent years - education has a tendency to make that happen - we all know things now that we didn't know a few years back, so let's stop behaving in the same ways, as if we're not responsible.

Stop making the surface appearance of things the only attribute that counts - life is so much richer than that.

Pretty ends do not justify ugly means.

nick said...

all i know is my old roommate spent a pretty penny on dining chair from anthro and they are the biggest pieces of crap i have ever seen and every single one of them is falling apart. i am sure it doesn't take much effort to break their stuff.

Anonymous said...

I worked for an exclusive french bakery years ago. They would chuck out the left-overs at the end of the day or let employees buy it for very cheap. I asked if I could call the Little Sisters of the Poor so they could use it to feed the poor. Instead of letting me do that, they called a local pig farmer who paid them to take it all away. I quit soon thereafter.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting us know what kind of ridiculous policies these stores have. Knowing that, I vow to never buy anything from any of them. To be so wasteful is a crime. Things could go to charity or they could have an auction or something like that. They won't get any of my money!

ita darling. said...

THank you so much Decorno for bringing to light this small portion of the shallowness of the Anthropologie empire- so many style blogs continue to highlight Anthropologie every single season for their innovative displays, merchandise etc. Yes, their kool-aid is very very seductive.

As a former Home manager with Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (and having also been a long term manager with Williams Sonoma- Ill get to them later...) all of the above is true. I slashed clothing, gave some to charity, i had to hammer quite a lot of pieces (for "safety" reasons, tried to repair defective low quality pieces, I did it all.

Some of it gets donated to a charity of each stores' choosing, all item's recorded so that and submitted to corporate so that teh number crunchers can make massive tax deductions on it, i'm sure.

One time, a beautiful necklace of semi precious stones broke, with no RTV (return to vendor) policy. I was told to throw it all away. I couldn't do it and smuggled the loose beads out in a starbucks coffee cup (as managers and associates alike were searched for stolen merchandise)... it is still with me as i restrung the beads.. why waste to follow rules? though i followed them SOOOO many times, my beautiful topaz beads were the least of their worries, and accounting still got the report that they were destroyed.

I truly despise Anthropologie on so many levels (like Anonymous 12:40pm), theyhave no appreciation for their employees, unethical practices in manufacturing, and steal many many designs from other artists and designers.

Thank you Decorno for publishing this letter, I wrote a similar letter to another Blog based out of Philadelphia, and my comments were denied. I brought light that Anthropologie's new concept store based out an old and established botanical nursery- the company then ousted and let go 25 yr veteran contributors to the horticultural majesty they had created... and I guess the blog owner was too scared of retribution because she also currently designs a stationary line that anthropolgie bought. anyhoo.

At Williams Sonoma I had to destroy a lot less, and got to donate a lot more- even food stuffs. WS also regularly congratulates great performance with hefty gift certificates and prizes from their vendors. my kitchen is beautiful and well stocked from my time there. It was a decent, morally thoguhtful, and rewarding experience working there.

Unlike anthropologie that would only give us measly $5 "anthro bucks" to reward one or two associates every 6 months. what are you going to buy at Anthro for $5??? Retail is a business that I don't miss, but UO/Anthro had the highest turnover I have ever seen, no loyalty, no corporate culture and that includes corporate offices and higher up designer/buyer/production jobs. I have had friends at every level of the company.

*sigh* it's a shame that they don't include more inclusive brand ownership into their company from top to bottom, because its a sad sad place to work and has soured the company from me forever. though i still walk in and look at their seasonal displays in awe, i know what lies behind the curtain.

ita darling. said...

THank you so much Decorno for bringing to light this small portion of the shallowness of the Anthropologie empire- so many style blogs continue to highlight Anthropologie every single season for their innovative displays, merchandise etc. Yes, their kool-aid is very very seductive.

As a former Home manager with Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (and having also been a long term manager with Williams Sonoma- Ill get to them later...) all of the above is true. I slashed clothing, gave some to charity, i had to hammer quite a lot of pieces (for "safety" reasons, tried to repair defective low quality pieces, I did it all.

Some of it gets donated to a charity of each stores' choosing, all item's recorded so that and submitted to corporate so that teh number crunchers can make massive tax deductions on it, i'm sure.

One time, a beautiful necklace of semi precious stones broke, with no RTV (return to vendor) policy. I was told to throw it all away. I couldn't do it and smuggled the loose beads out in a starbucks coffee cup (as managers and associates alike were searched for stolen merchandise)... it is still with me as i restrung the beads.. why waste to follow rules? though i followed them SOOOO many times, my beautiful topaz beads were the least of their worries, and accounting still got the report that they were destroyed.

I truly despise Anthropologie on so many levels (like Anonymous 12:40pm), theyhave no appreciation for their employees, unethical practices in manufacturing, and steal many many designs from other artists and designers.

Thank you Decorno for publishing this letter, I wrote a similar letter to another Blog based out of Philadelphia, and my comments were denied. I brought light that Anthropologie's new concept store based out an old and established botanical nursery- the company then ousted and let go 25 yr veteran contributors to the horticultural majesty they had created... and I guess the blog owner was too scared of retribution because she also currently designs a stationary line that anthropolgie bought. anyhoo.

At Williams Sonoma I had to destroy a lot less, and got to donate a lot more- even food stuffs. WS also regularly congratulates great performance with hefty gift certificates and prizes from their vendors. my kitchen is beautiful and well stocked from my time there. It was a decent, morally thoguhtful, and rewarding experience working there.

Unlike anthropologie that would only give us measly $5 "anthro bucks" to reward one or two associates every 6 months. what are you going to buy at Anthro for $5??? Retail is a business that I don't miss, but UO/Anthro had the highest turnover I have ever seen, no loyalty, no corporate culture and that includes corporate offices and higher up designer/buyer/production jobs. I have had friends at every level of the company.

*sigh* it's a shame that they don't include more inclusive brand ownership into their company from top to bottom, because its a sad sad place to work and has soured the company from me forever. though i still walk in and look at their seasonal displays in awe, i know what lies behind the curtain.

...love Maegan said...

Anthropologie is a total rip off for mediocre shit. They're over priced to say the least. I already would NEVER shop there and this just proves my point. What assholes. Talk about bad for the environment. I hate them. :)

beSmart beGreen said...

anyone interested should check out http://www.storyofstuff.com/ ...it's an eye-opening short about "stuff"

Anonymous said...

I agree about Williams Sonoma. I worked at a charity that helped very low-income families and WS had a program that gave "dimed-out" items to these families. Now, most didn't have a use for a 12' long damask table cloth, but the fact that WS made the effort to do this won them customers (from the staff) for life. Interestingly, Talbots was also very generous.

Anonymous said...

ita darling: bottom line is you stole the "jewels". Ain't no way around it. Anyone that shops Anthropologie need to have his head examined. Their stuff is JUNK and cheaply made.

ita darling. said...

yeah. i know i stole the jewels.
what would you have done?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to share my experience in retail work.

I have worked at both Restoration Hardware and (currently at) Crate and Barrel. At Restoration Hardware we had a similar policy to Anthro that we should destroy anything that was returned and used, even linens in good condition. These were very nice towels, sheets and toys (at christmas time) that could have easily gone to charity. I hated taking a marker and a scissors to these items. In my time at the store the employees who were bothered by this policy tried ruthlessly to get our store and our company to notice what a waste this is. I couldn't stand the company long enough to stay to find out what happened. I believe the policy is still the same.

But here is the good news. In contrast, Crate and Barrel is a store you can feel good about. It's a company I feel good about working for. They are good to their employees (we have a relatively low turn over rate at my store) and they donate damaged and returned items if they cannot be sold. We help local charities by giving them furniture and houseware items. We do not give them anything so damaged as to be non-functional. Those items are destroyed for safety reasons. We also do not donate any liquor glassware or candles (apparently also for safety/legal reasons) but these items are usually marked down, destroyed or given to staff.

I never intended to work in retail so long, but it's easier when you feel good about the company you work for.

I'm bummed about Anthro. I like their style. I nearly took a job there- now I'm so glad I didn't.

alis said...

I'm so grossed out. Fuck "protecting their brand". They are filling MY planet with junk, wasting MY resources. Damn these greedy bastards. I am through with buying and consuming.

Anonymous said...

this policy is totally true. I worked in the home office for a number of years.

Anonymous said...

I actually worked for Anthro for many years and although this practice may be true in some stores, we did not ruin the "damaged" or old merchandise. The stores in our region saved all clothing marked as "ten cents" and donated it to goodwill or homeless shelters.
As for home furnishings, they let the employees buy the items at discounted prices...

Bangs said...

Anthropologie donates a lot of old stock to Circle Thrift in Philly. There's one in Fishtown and another in South Philly. It's pretty hit or miss, but sometimes you can find great stuff (mostly clothes, small housewares). Too bad about bigger things like the couches, etc.

Anonymous said...

I had an experience sort of like this at Banana Republic. There was a lovely bracelet with semi-precious stones on sale that I wanted, but it had no tag. They couldn't find it in the system; they found the matching earrings but not the bracelet. I remembered what the price should be, but that wasn't good enough-- they simply WOULD NOT sell it to me. I asked the manager what he was going to do with it then and he told me he would have to THROW IT AWAY. At that point I really wished I had stolen the stupid thing, which would have been super easy to do since it HAD NO TAG!

I was sooooo angry when I left, I didn't shop there again for a full year. I finally gave in because the store is next to my office and the sales are fantastic, but I lost so much respect for the brand through that experience. Being seen as wasteful isn't good for brand image either!

Anonymous said...

I am really not surprised at all. Anthropologie pretends to be hip and different in its atmosphere, like these are cherished heirlooms, but it's a heap of junk coming and going. The clothes are really cheap-looking to sell for as much as they're priced, so no wonder they have so many left over. It's not magic, they are trying to create a lust for pretend thrift shop savvy. Their displays are assemblies of trash, some sort of wow factor making a wall of garbage seem "inspirational."

I am just not surprised about this policy, I only wish they'd hand out hammers at the door one day and let the customers have at it. Faddish trendy garbage, you know you will put this stuff out by the curb when you move to your next apartment. It just doesn't rate highly enough to pack and take with you. Consider letting it go to the curb before you put your dollars in their pockets and stop shopping there.

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard about similar practices, I almost fell over. What waste! However, retail companies do exist to make profit and provide value to their shareholders. The risk and cost to track, handle, and transport marked-down or slightly damaged items is unbelievable, particularly in a hyper-litigious environment. When you look at the cost of dealing with penny/dime stock versus the value of the item, it's a no-brainer to just toss it.

Gifts In Kind (giftsinkind.org) is one solution - they pre-screen charitable organizations to make sure that items are being donated to a legitimate organization. They work with major retailers such as Home Depot to match products to organizations in the store's local community.

Anonymous said...

Reading the post above (Anon 4:27) again I have to say - how can we rationalize this just to please shareholders? This is why I say none of us should cry too hard about the stock market's behavior, when we are all complicit in sanctioning and enabling such practices!!! (in fact, expecting and hoping for such practices if it means that our investments show profit!!!)

How can we expect this model to sustain itself? If it's cheaper to toss out old stock, what does that mean about the original production cost & origin of that stock? How much did it cost to put it on display on the front end?

Once again, the pursuit of money justifies everything, hence the ugly world we live in.

I'm glad to see this conversation as we begin to enter "holiday shopping season" (whatever that will mean in this year's economy). This is a good discussion to have fresh in our minds as we enter malls and merchant districts...

Anonymous said...

I'm reading this days and weeks later than it was published so I doubt my opinion will really be heard but, I do have mixed thoughts about the whole ordeal. It is completely wasteful to just throw the stuff out or to destroy it.

But if it makes anyone feel a little better about the vintage pieces that are destroyed. Most of that stuff is "crap" to begin with. I have a friend who has been a visual merchandiser for the UO/Anthro company for a long time. She once told me about how they acquire such "vintage" pieces. They send out employes or other people who are great at finding stuff that will sell. They buy from flea markets and most of the stuff is in horrible shape and really cheap. Then they send the pieces to upholstery companies and places that revamp the furniture. Put a WHOPPING price tag on it and people buy it because its VINTAGE.
The best thing we can do is take this in as inspiration. If everyone could have a little more imagination and spend a little more time thrifting and shopping at flea markets we could all have those wonderful vintage pieces for our ourselves. AND at HALF the price or even less. I know from some of your blogs Decorno you have done the same. Its just the best way to go, and you end up loving your furniture more, because it is custom and created to fit your needs.

And to stick to it Anthro, I'm apart of the friends and family for the company and I make big shopping sprees around the holidays because you can buy merchandise at 40% even sale! So I buy as much as I can afford then and give all my friends and family wonderful gifts.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for Coach for 6 years. They do the same thing. It's brand integrity people. Deal with it! I think that writer was wanting sympathy. None here!

Tracee said...

grocery stores lock the garbage cans to refuse day old bread and fruit to the homeless.

consumer culture.

Anonymous said...

I would do the same if i was in Anthro's shoes. You sell product to a certain demographic, a certain wealth bracket. Why would you suddenly make your 2000$ item available for 50$? It does nothing but damage your brand. Would Hermes or Louis Vuitton sell of their old products for a discount price? No of course not, they have integrity and an image to protect.

ita darling. said...

muchas gracias for whomever suggested the web video storyofstuff.com. It really is a great mindset to be in before the holidays- everything from eyeing those $1 gift bags in the dollar shop at target to getting catalogs in the mail, it all takes resources, energy and cheap labor to make happen.

the video even discusses the industrial design journals from the 50s & 60s discussing how to make items useless and break fairly quickly after buying without losing the so called "brand integrity" It was during this time period that our current "consumer buy and toss" culture was created.

amazing how we throw stuff out instead of repairing.

i spent 6 hours this week researching how to get my ceramic flat iron repaired instead of throwing it away. and come up with nothing.

Don't get me wrong... I LOOOVE me some designer shit. I "get" the brand loyalty arguement. But as Urban does you can cut out labels, and slightly alter usable items to ensure that they can't be resold but are still usable. there are WAYS to go about it! just brainstorming for three minutes about this i just realized how COOL it would be if Chanel boxed up all of their unsold purses, warehoused them and then re-released them as vintage in 5-10 years instead of putting them in a WOODCHIPPER. Or how about a big PSA about gifting beautiful bags to battered women in a back to work program? GORGEOUS! It just takes some imagination and creativity for companies to be seen as reasonable and conscientious of their behavior.

Congrats Anon 11:13 for working for Crate & Barrel- they are privately held- they DO do nice things for their employees (like auction off pieces to their employees so that everyone can advantage from unsold merch) I actually interviewed with them once too and ended up at Anthro- funny!

I am not going to "get over" this. I am not going on a one woman crusade, but I am also not going to just stick my proverbial tail between my legs and just say "alright" we wont change. ever. and neither should they. thats just silly. be creative people! recycling and problem solving is much better for brand integrity!

I will get off my highhorse now and go back to searching for my new ceramic flat iron on ebay.

watch me! said...

Knowing Coach employs such people has turned me off to them forever - oops, I think Anon 5:37 ruined their brand integrity (what I would consider integrity anyhow)

I too wholeheartedly endorse watching "The Story of Stuff" -- after I saw it I immediately sent links to everyone I know

Eye opening

Anonymous said...

WTF? give this to charity.
this is greed + waste + a clear example of the foolish one sided economic paradigm that has gotten us into the current economic state where we find ourselves today.
ridiculous.
+ yes, 'understandable' for brand identity, but that in no way makes it right!

Anonymous said...

So late, but for what it's worth...
I'm currently a manager at Anthropologie and despite the image this tipster may have painted for you, our stockroom is not a bloodbath of "damaged" items. Once an item reaches it's lowest selling price, it's eventually taken out of the system. If you enter the SKU the price shows up as $.10, a dime out. The item is no longer sellable. You can only sell the summer's hottest dress or swimsuit for so long, eventually it's time to make room for wool sweaters and peacoats. We do not then go throw the unsellable item to a pit of wolves with sledgehammers though. We bag the item up and put it in a box marked "dime outs" and eventually mail it back to our distribution center or to a local charity (scandalous!).
As for damages... If a customer or employee breaks anything in the store we ring it up and damage it out, for inventory purposes. We remove all stickers from the item so no one goes dumpster diving and tries to return anything. Anything dangerous and breakable does get destroyed on the store level.
I hope I've explained the process somewhat helpfully. I enjoy my job, of course there are ups and downs. What job doesn't? Please listen to actual employees who take part in these practices regularly. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

ok so this is a really old post, but this is a totally real practice, for any doubters. I have worked at several major department stores- and yes, the managers destroy "unsaleable" items. It's sickening.

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