Categories
Aesthetics

Day 701 and Frozen Goods

My Black Friday purchases are slowly making their way from warehouses in Denver or St Louis or other parts unknown to me in Montana. When I placed the orders I was so excited for the good deals.

But instead I’m just finding new disappointments. Four out of six items I ordered from Splendid will have to be returned. A pair of pants from Lunya is simply made for someone taller than me. And the remaining pieces of the order from Nadaam still hasn’t shipped yet. I hope my new negligees from Skims don’t disappoint as my track record on soft goods isn’t looking so great. Failures all around.

I’ve also had a few issues with trying to order cosmetics. I do a big order with Briogeo once a year. It’s in transit during a very chilly day. It was 10 degrees when I woke up. And I’ll admit I’m concerned about receiving a complete frozen bottle of shampoo. And it is expensive shampoo too.

We’ve had this issue before. Ipsy and Allure monthly boxes show up half frozen in the mailbox for a day. A Sephora order went straight to our mailbox where it sat for two hours before I got the alert it has arrived. It was cold but not fully frozen. I am afraid to look up how much efficacy is lost if retinol is frozen. What about vitamin C? How bad is it to freeze your cosmetics?

Because we live out on country roads and outside the town limits, we find our packages are often delivered by men in pickup trucks doing piece work contracts. They are nice folks but there isn’t much they can do about an expensive skin cream freezing solid in their open pickup truck bed. I would try to buy things in person but we don’t have a Sephora here so that catalog order life remains how people get stuff in rural America.

I used to have concerns about melting cosmetics when I was in Colorado. So perhaps freezing is an improvement. But I’m definitely wondering if we will need climate controlled options for certain kinds of deliveries in future for items that need a moderate temperature band. It could be a brand issue to have your product not work because the chemical bonds got wrecked by extreme weather. And we are all about to get more extreme weather as a normal feature of daily life.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 694 and Buy Everything Day

When I was a hippie kid growing up in Colorado I was a fervent believer in a “holiday” called Buy Nothing Day. It was a campaign heavily promoted by a magazine called Adbusters which saw itself a culture jamming organization.

It felt cool and hip and maybe even a bit new to protest excess consumption in the era when globalization hadn’t yet experienced the bitch slap that are the last twenty years of history not actually ending. Teenagers are obviously a bit prone to over simplifying the world and I was no exception.

Now as a jaded veteran of the retail and luxury wars, I think it was the height of white girl naïveté that not shopping one day of the year meant shit. Now I pile all of my shopping into Black Friday. Instead of it being “Buy Nothing Day” it has become “Buy Everything Day” for me. I know how much brands are riding on my choosing to spend and I hold out the bulk of my shopping to extract maximum value.

I bought 2 tee shirts, one cardigan, 3 cashmere sweaters, one pair of silk pants, one cotton robe, 2 slips, 2 bras, and 3 pairs of tights. I bought a jumbo size shampoo and conditioner as well as travel sets. I also bought a luxury face cream, highlighter and other sundry cosmetics even though most of the cosmetics I prefer aren’t even on sale today. We also bought 4 scented candles for the house. Alex bought a pair of Chelsea boots, a new gun safe and a hunting jacket. In other words, we shopped till we dropped. We went full American on the day.

We’d hoped to buy new dishes and a few pieces of furniture as this has also been the year of outfitting the house but alas we just couldn’t figure out enough deals ahead of time. Black Friday is often a mess of confusing offers and marketing bullshit. It’s been made dramatically worse by the wave of direct to consumer brands who claim to give you better deals but often do little more than obfuscate where you are getting ripped off. It’s lowering trust by insisting that you are getting something better when you know you are not.

It’s with that knowledge in mind that I’ve come to terms with the reality of American consumption. I’ve come full circle on Buy Nothing Day. I recognize that shopping is the full contact sport that drives everything else around us. And so long as I’m embedded in that system it serves little purpose to be obstinate or contrary. But equally it serves no purpose to be taken advantage of by these brands either. Getting a deal is a very American kind of battle I’d rather win. As of yet there is no option to remain off the battlefield. But one day it may be gone for good. Until then I’ll buy my cashmere in discount.

Categories
Culture

Day 690 and Status Games

Noblesse oblige. Literally translated from the French as nobility obligates. It’s commonly understood to mean that aristocracy has a responsibility to act graciously towards the civilization which has granted them status.

It’s a turn of phrase I’ve written about before, specifically how in our post modern times, we are challenged to understand who is pursuing a life of virtue and what their obligations may be to the rest of us.

No one is sure if they are nobility or peasantry. No one is noble or good. Which means nobody deserves anything they get. Which is about as close to the war of all against all as I can imagine. Hobbes would be pleased.

JFredrickson.com Day 45

Humanity has always been rather clever at inventing new classes. We need fresh blood from the bottom to keep revolutionary sentiment in church. Every century we are finding new ways to fight it out for new types of status and virtue.

Business values money. Old money values class. The intelligentsia values intellect. Hipsters value taste. The religious value faith. And around we go with status games as we trade social capital for actual capital just so we can get something to eat.

There is always an emerging new game that upsets the underlying order. The printing press destabilized the church and its priestly cast. The internet destabilized the media and it’s editor cast. You know the drill.

Right now there is a massive internecine fight over which order rules over Twitter. And depending on whose camp you fall into you are probably signaling different things. And that lack of shared cultural values is leading to some pretty silly reactions. A lot of dickriding is happening across every major faction.

Which if you take away the reactionary specifics, is totally understandable. If one class of person values money but the competing group values taste than you aren’t really fighting for the same things. Different values are different.

But you’ve got to be careful with your own reactions. Ask yourself if you are responding out of some shared cultural loyalty that is overshadowing your own common sense. Your attention is valuable and powerful people recognize your attention for the commodity that it has become.

Don’t buy into bullshit just because it’s your team. The chance that someone is making a buck off of your attention sure ain’t zero. And America being a free country and all means you shouldn’t be living enthralled to someone else’s priorities.

Categories
Aesthetics Startups

Day 659 and E-commerce Returns

It’s been a minute since I posted about the mild annoyances of shopping to outfit a new house. Because we have upgraded the amount of space we live in by two or three times and we are hoping to use some of the space for hospitality we’ve bought a lot of shit recently.

I have shopped a large assortment of direct to consumer retail brands. Included in the list is Brooklinen, Havenly, Italic and Merit in the last month or so. And the varied state of quality and service in the venture funded retail space is such a mixed bag. The most pleasant experiences have been from older brands and retailers like Carharrt, Ariat and Sephora.

I would entirely recommend Havenly as an intermediary service for both design and furniture shopping as the returns are relatively simple and they consolidate a ton of retailers into the interface. But they are so good at their jobs you mostly don’t need to return stuff. We bought a cheap fake antler chandelier to see if it could be pulled off (against the advice of the designer) and were promptly told by everyone to return it. Which lets be honest was good advice all around. We did have to dismantle it which I’m told was quite the IKEA style effort.

A fake antler chandelier acquired from Wayfare. It was still $500 so we returned it.

I cannot say I have the same praise for direct to consumer brands that are still attempting to make margins happen in the middle market. I’ve had some amusing fails on that front and it again reminds me of the danger consumers are beginning to feel when they shop brands with less social awareness. This is a real issue for direct to consumer brands as they fight it out with less venture dollars compared to the past. It’s going to hurt their lifetime customer values.

Merit is a much covered cosmetics brand which has some star products I liked (their foundation is terrific) but some really low rent packaging. So I wanted to return a couple items. Merit made returns so challenging I might just eat the cost of half the products that I don’t want to use. Merit’s customer care team literally wanted me to write reviews of each product I wanted to return to begin the process. Damn girl but ain’t nobody has time for that.

An assortment of Merit Cosmetics including foundation, blush, mascara and a brush. I wanted to return about half of them for being a poor value.

Ironically I had already done that on their Yotpo product review prompts a week earlier but didn’t save them (why would I) so when it came time for returns I just said fuck it as I didn’t want to retype my 500 word a piece reviews again just to return the items. It’s been sitting in my inbox for so long I’m afraid they won’t accept it. A huge and amusing fail to integrate basic customer retention tactics and your order options. I expect it will hit their lifetime customer value and require a fix soon. I literally haven’t overcome the inertia just to get my $70 back and perhaps they know that. Which is a dick move.

By far the most clever return mechanic I’ve seen is from Italic. I’ve loved their cashmere and their sheets but some of their other odds and ends were just bad fits. And it turns out they know it. They offered a 50% store credit on an item if I just gave it to a friend. Alas it is a dress that doesn’t work if you have breasts. Which is clearly a challenge to hand off to anyone.

Text messages between Alex and I about returning a dress from Italic that does not fit my upper body

The other irritant that Italic had though is that it shipped in four separate orders and insisted that we ship it back in four separate orders which is wildly wasteful even by e-commerce standards. And it has the unexpected effect of me accidentally returning a pair of cashmere pants I didn’t even try on as I forgot I bought two different cuts and ended up returning both as they came in separate orders over the space of a week. Oops! That’s $150 they won’t get from me. I frantically texted my Alex asking if he had them still but nope I might try to rebuy them but now I don’t trust I’ll be able to even figure it out.

Shopping is going to get extremely weird over this holiday season as brands have significant depths to overcome come past supply chain issues. But as the economy struggles with inflation I’d expect to see more tricks like Merit on the negative end and clever loyalty gambits like Italic on the positive. So keep that in mind as Black Friday approaches.

Categories
Medical Politics

Day 656 and Genetic Material Storage

What feels like a lifetime ago, my husband and I pursued fertility treatments. I didn’t have any known issues but we wanted to freeze eggs and embryos while I was still young. At the time we didn’t feel stable or wealthy enough to predict when having children would be feasible. It seemed like the responsible choice to have a backup plan. Everyone we knew was doing it too.

I remember a gynecologist telling me off for considering freezing eggs as she managed medical school with a toddler so surely an easier career like startup CEO would have no trouble with resources for becoming a mother. I never saw her again after that incident. But knowing me the shame I felt from her judgement simply cemented my decision to free my eggs.

But I was equally poorly served by the fancy fertility clinic that glossed over risks and side effects. In hindsight I wish I’d been more concerned about ramifications. I also which I’d listened to my gut which was screaming that this felt more like a luxury shopping experience than a major life decision. The ease with which I was being sold a life where I could buy an insurance policy about a decision that I was ambivalent is almost shocking.

Now I’m faced with another choice. The genetic material needs to be moved to a safe state. In the wake of Roe v Wade being overturned, there is concern that fertilized eggs (embryos) might not be fully under our control as red states pursue stricter and stricter control policies. No one is quite sure how embryos will be treated. And frankly no one wants to find out.

Embryos that were stored in states like Texas and Florida are on the move. Clinics and storage facilities cannot guarantee their safety and usage as too much is still uncertain. Of the storage options we have, only two are in safe states unlikely to be impacted. Minnesota and Connecticut.

We picked Connecticut. Even if Republicans take it over we are banking they will be of the WASPy moderate types who see value in family planning for nice white married couples. Our privilege is at maximum there and that’s worth a premium.

I am so conflicted on even addressing the issue of what we are supposed to do with our generic material. Is this the moment we give up and admit it’s not a life path that we want? The chances of Alex and I have children together are getting slimmer. It’s not impossible but it’s also not looking likely.

My health is stable but I use several pharmaceuticals that shouldn’t be used during a pregnancy. I’d need to be on bed rest and dosed off everything to proceed with a pregnancy. I’ve been warned I could lose my progress on controlling my autoimmune disorder, the worst case scenario is I’d have to repeat the last four years of stabilizing treatment. I would be in a lot pain that couldn’t be treated for the duration.

Needless to say I’d not be able to work during the pregnancy and possibly for an extended time after. It feels perilously close to a choice between living my life and organizing my entire life and healthcare for a child I don’t even know if I want. It might be a permanent off ramp from work as the recovery would be significant. Everyone says you will regret not having children but I’ve only ever met people who regret having children.

At which point I have to admit to myself I don’t want children so badly that I am willing to be physically debilitated for another five years. I am so excited to be living a semi-normal life where I can pursue my personal and professional goals. The last few were hard. Perhaps we could pursue surrogacy but that suggests a level of wanting children that I just don’t think either Alex or I have. Because neither one of us strongly desires children this additional effort and cost simply to preserve our own genetic material isn’t under consideration. If later on in life we find our preferences changed we are both comfortable adopting or raising children not related to us genetically.

Perhaps the problem was that we never strongly wanted children in the first place. Maybe that shitty gynecologist was right. If we’d wanted kids we would have found a way. Instead we bought an insurance policy. And now that insurance policy is a scary liability with an uncertain political future.

With the way America is headed if we don’t move the embryos to a safe state now it’s entirely possible the government will decide we actually already have children. Unborn children. Who might have more right to life than I do. To be honest that’s an ethical question I don’t have an answer to. All I know is that I am absolutely not willing to let the government decide if it is my life or the embryos. That’s between Alex, myself and God.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 637 and Loyalty

I was discussing with a friend their planned to trip to London to capitalize on sterling parity. The pound and the dollar being worth the same amount is an opportunity for American travelers. The conversation turned to optimizing for travel points structures, maintaining status, and other loyalty programs. I suppose anyone who finds traveling opportunities during a currency crisis almost certainly enjoys a good deal and being rewarded for consumption during hard times.

The pandemic upset so many consumer patterns that it’s a little bit hard to remember why we bought some of the things we did in the past. We’ve got vague positive memories and we are attempting to recreate them. Travel is inarguably one of the most confused spaces in the wake of those upheavals. Status got rolled over so when travel opened back up stuff got weird. Lounges got more crowded just as business travelers were being removed from the financial base of the space. It led to a lot of chaos this summer as the economics got reliance’s.

The most loyal travelers got back on the proverbial road in the aftermath and were met with materially worse products despite paying just as much as the remembered in the past. For all of the rich yuppies who showed up to say Italy or other Mediterranean vacations, they were reminded that travel wasn’t so glamorous without the perks. And it certainly made more than a few of us consider the economics of being on the road.

There are other industries where loyalty is being rewarded with worse producers and shittier user experiences. I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of disappointment with the offerings in cosmetics recently. I’ve complained endlessly about shittier packaging and lower grade formulations even though I haven’t really cut down my spending any. Like the loyal travelers, I am putting up with less quality as I don’t really want to simply stop a hobby I enjoy.

But how long will residual loyalty and affection remain? If travel to London must be combined with currency debasement and travel rewards perhaps our loyalty is not endless. Consumers often underestimate our power with industry because it takes them some time to adapt. But if we don’t change our behaviors in response to dwindling quality or service the incentive structures don’t force improvements. The balance is cost of loyalty.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 611 and Consumer Packaged Goods

As Ive mentioned, I’m in a heavy “bitches be shopping” mode as I’m settling into a new home that is 5x larger than anything I’ve ever lived in.

I’ve purchased furniture, home decor, sheets & towels, work boots, denim, dry goods, storage bins & racks, paint, curtains, toiletries, vitamins, over the counter medications, and cosmetics. I’ve really “enjoyed” the full spectrum of American retail in all its consumer glory. Makes me feel all patriotic.

I’m lucky that I have several decades of experience in the dark arts of consumption studies and consumer marketing to guide me through. And even with that knowledge, I feel like I keep getting ripped off.

What is wrong with shopping in America?

Most folks are keenly aware of rising costs and supply chain troubles coming out of a pandemic that was treated with stimulus and zero interest monetary policy. Stimmy checks & a society wide health scare had all kinds of unintended consequences on everything. But the end result is everything feels more expensive. And also shittier.

One argument is that shrinkflation has come for America.

Shrinkflation, also known as the grocery shrink ray, deflation, or package downsizing, is the process of items shrinking in size or quantity, or even sometimes reformulating or reducing quality.

Wikipedia

It’s a maddening phenomenon as brands and retailers do their best to hide the basic fact that you are paying the same amount for less. We are a nation being gaslighted by an array of institutions that we’ve been raised to consider our pride and joy. It’s part of our national myth that supermarkets won the Cold War. American brands can be trusted. American brands are the best.

American brands are subject to market forces not central planning. And those forces are choppy at best. Which is how we ended up with our favorite popsicle letting us down.

Welch’s juice ice bars popsicles shown side by side. One is 1.5 oz and one is 2oz. Both cost the same at Costco but the 2oz is from 2020 before shrinkflation.

The otter pop’s my husband favors have gone from 2oz to 1.5oz but have stayed the same price at Costco. It’s not a huge change. We probably wouldn’t have noticed it except we had a couple older ones we bought early in the pandemic and were able to compare. It was a small betrayal but at least we knew it and could accept the increased cost.

But imagine if you weren’t aware of the macroeconomic forces at play. Or if you weren’t a careful observer of consumption and shopping. What if you were just a kid that got duped by a popsicles?

The compounding effect of lower standards of living is making us all go a bit stir crazy.

I suspect we are all experiencing a little bit of crazy-making from the subtle ways in which we can no longer trust our brands and retailers. It feels downright un-American. And I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s a contributing factor to the general sense of unease and institutional distrust. If you can’t trust American consumerism, well we don’t really have much left.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 605 and Inventory

I like to be prepared. It’s my personal opinion that this winter is going to be a bit rough. There is no single issue but rather a patchwork of intersecting crisis points that make me a little edgy.

You’ve got crop yields all over the place from another wild climate change year. You’ve got the rising costs of fertilizers. You’ve got an energy crisis brought on by the war Russia is waging against Ukraine. You’ve got whatever China is up to with its Covid policies. And then of course you’ve got our lingering economic fuckery and well you can see why I’m worried.

I went through our emergency food stores today and did some turnover and replenishment. We didn’t opt to move some things with us to Montana (some items had expiration dates necessitating donation) so it’s been on my to do list.

I’ve got a spreadsheet that includes fats, starches, sweeteners and less glamorous proteins like beans and canned fish. It theoretically calculates our our caloric needs and what is provided for in our supplies so we can more easily assess if we have enough on hand for different scenarios. In reality, I’ve never actually had full inputs clean enough to generate an output I trust. So I kind of wing it with this basic level of precision.

I’ve tried to abide by basic best practices for emergencies. Ready.gov is a surprisingly decent resource even if it might shock you what you should have in hand. You need supplies for a three day disaster like a snowstorm or hurricane. You need three weeks of supplies for an interruption that takes a bit of resolve. And you ideally three months of food on hand if something goes really wrong. The Mormon Church says you should keep a year of food on hand.

I don’t think we’ve quite got a year of food on hand but I have taken a lot of tips from the LDS suggestions for food storage. We’ve got pounds of wheat (and a hand crank grinder). We’ve got 25lbs sacks of rice. We’ve got big jugs of cooking oils. We’ve got sugars. We’ve got spices. I’ve got quite the collection of dried legumes.

I feel like I basically have what is necessary for a bad winter in Montana. I hope we’ve got enough for any supply chain constraints that might make it harder to get things to our modestly more rural homestead. But in truth I’m just following lists and hoping if something happens I didn’t fuck up too badly. And I’d we did well we’ve got shotguns and ammunition and the local deer are a little too cavalier about their safety. For now.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 552 and Consumption

When I was emerging into my teens and early adulthood in the aughts I was fascinated by style. Coming from a small town in the Rocky Mountains, populated by hippies and techies, I’d had little exposure to fashion or cosmetics. Gore-Tex jackets, rainbow sarongs and Tevas had more purchase on the imagination than twin sets or pearls.

I didn’t chose a university known for its style either. I chose one known for crunching the numbers on our economy. My abiding interest in why we consume what we do never quite got around to being taste based. I followed fashion through export deficits, balance sheets and purchase orders. More back page of the Economist than Thursday Styles.

It was all an intellectual exercise for me. And it was mostly a numbers game. The cost of cotton and the trading flows of finished goods were much more legible to me than why a WASP enjoyed salmon colored pants.

I didn’t let an utter lack of taste, hell even exposure to taste, get in my way. I used a personal style blog hosted on WordPress (sound familiar) to comment on runway looks that were slowly emerging onto trade publications online. I used my comment sections to hold conversations with other enthusiasts. I was quite sure my opinion mattered. I guess I still am.

I very presumptuously emailed academic and authors like Valerie Steele and Virginia Postrel to share my enthusiasm. Much to my astonishment they wrote back. Eventually I stumbled into being their nominal peers, blending into the milieu of Balthazar breakfasts once I moved to Manhattan. Talk about peaking early. I’d achieved my life’s goals at 23.

But somewhere along the way it didn’t matter anymore that I lacked taste. No one had taste anymore. Our entire aesthetics stalled out sometime in the wake of the Great Recession. As I partied with the rest of Indie Sleeze crowd in my American Apparel deep v-necks, the end of distinct trends and looks was at hand. We just didn’t know it yet

Globalization and the internet gave us an amalgamation of tastes I’ve come to refer to the “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” aesthetic. It’s all the same and it’s always been the same as long as our forever End of History Fukuyama moment continued. We’d reached terminal fashion. As the media class fractured into the creative class and struck gold in startup land, the center of gravity of taste didn’t just shift. It disappeared entirely. It was chaos and boring all at once.

No one sets agendas for style, or taste, or top down, or even bottom up aesthetic movements anymore. It’s just a stream of consumables made by fast fashion factories and sold out through Instagram and TikTok as the data miners and algorithms predetermined your desires before you’d even thought them up. Dystopian looks like getting exactly what you want.

It turned out that fashion blogs, once a nemesis for showing taste before it was ready, had been too slow. Blogging is so 2000 and late. The Everything Everywhere All At Once aesthetic is done with a look even before it starts. Because it has no beginning or end or middle.

Maybe we should have called it non-linear fashion. There are no early adopters or taste laggards any longer. It’s all very much a kind of quantum of sameness. Which is somehow even less exciting than a James Bond movie in the Daniel Craig era.

I stumbled onto a styles section piece about the disappearance of the fashion Czarinas in the wake of the Ukraine war. Global taste has collided with the brutal reality of kleptocracy. We’d ignored it for a decade or two but now it appears history has reasserted itself. Maybe that means fashion might come back? But as inflation runs rampant and supply chains crack we might be edging towards a new austerity. Which might make for a pleasant pre-war historic period.

I for one would love to know who the Neu-Weimar Coco Channel of the Boogaloo/World War 3 conflicts will be. I bet she’s an anorexic TradCath living in Dimes Square. And like her predecessor she’s definitely fucking a Nazi. Let’s pray she has taste that is more interesting than her sex life.

Categories
Finance

Day 163 and Favors

Some professional arenas are driven by the favor trading of social capital.

I’ve got a gut sense that this is true on the two poles of commodity products and services. The middle ground has a lot more nuance and is thus less susceptible to favor trading, as it’s clear what drives price and value of service. With complete commodities (identical replacement value) and the non-fungible (not interchangeable or replaceable) there are not simple price or value anchors. This makes it more likely your purchase or choice will be driven by the perception of social capital. We will do favors for those with higher status or by the recommendation of those we trust.

Interchangeable commodity products trade on price, which means favors from across the ecosystem act as the grease in otherwise equivalent deals. Think suppliers of everything from lumber to textiles. If the price is the same maybe you buy from someone you like who took you out to dinner. Or you buy because that person has a good reputation in the community so you use the person your neighbor recommended. This seems intuitively true of commodity services like accounting, plumbing or roofing. Within certain bounds of quality, a 2×4 or a roofing bid should fall into the same bucket so it’s ok to pick whoever feels best. That’s why it’s susceptible to favors and social capital exchange.

On the other end, extremely differentiated non commodity products are equally prone to being tipped by favors. Think professional services like public relations that are very hard to compare. A publicist with favors to trade gets their clients the best coverage. A reporter who has a lot of sources can trade them in to get a quote for a story. Venture capital is one of the least commodified types of capital, a founder will pick one firm over another not just based on the price of a term sheet but whether others recommend them. Reputation matters a lot. Social capital is what gets a deal done, a nudge to consider someone will push you into a cap table.

Not convinced? Think about a product that exists in the middle like clothing from a brand you know but isn’t connected to you in any other way. This is the least susceptible to favor trading or the pressures of social capital.

We can intuit a dress made from quality fabrics and a recognizable brand has a set cost because the brand of the designer is not interchangeable (maybe with others in their category but Prada isn’t the same as Old Navy) and the cost of the fabric is transparent. A silk blouse can’t ever get too cheap on a one off basis. Both the brand and the fabrics set the bounds of the prices.

I didn’t really have a point in writing this other than being curious about what impacts how we pick what to purchase and what sets the bounds of our pricing. We are in a narrative cycle around inflation and work shortages which is having an impact on how willingness to to spend or hire.

So be careful if something seems too expensive but comes highly recommended. Be equally wary if something is particularly cheap even if a friend likes it. Look for the sweet spot of pricing and reputation that is based on market price beyond your in-group.