Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Warranted Outrage | May 2, 2012

Recently, CNBC ran a special about Costco (The Costco Craze:  Inside the Warehouse Giant), the now-ubiquitous chain that is virtually cornering the big-box retail world.

As part of the special, Costco’s wine buyer, Annette Alvarez-Peters was interviewed.  During the course of the segment, the world’s most powerful buyer was quoted as saying that wine is really no different than toilet paper, spurring outrage from the wine-loving blogosphere.  She suggested that- in such a position- viewing all products as commodities is how an operation like Costco succeeds.

Such vitriol is completely warranted.  We’re talking about a product that comes in so many different styles.  A product that elicits an emotional response; something that comforts us, something we share with our friends when they come to visit.  Something that is infinitely personal.  And Costco’s head buyer has marginalized it.  A thing that many of us cannot live without has been relegated to commodity status.  THIS IS BLASPHEMY, MS. ALVAREZ-PETERS.

Honestly, to say that toilet paper is all one-in-the-same pisses me off to no end.  Yet the Costco buyer has the gall to compare it to a homogenized beverage like wine.  Toilet paper is as varied as the individuals who feel its plushness daily.  It helps frame our emotions.  Toilet paper comforts us in our time of greatest need.

There’s the cheap single-ply stuff.  Takes me back to the college days.  Boy, were those good times. When I feel its coarse, sandpaper-like touch- my fingers ripping through its gossamer structure, I recall a simpler time:  when having plenty of Old Milwaukee in the fridge trumped my need to avoid a chapped butt.

But we’re just scratching the surface (pun intended).  Double-ply, even triple-ply fills the shelves, serving high-rollers with powerful flushing mechanisms.  Do I want my toilet paper quilted?  Maybe with ripples?  I can get it.  From “Over the Hill” to “Shit Happens”, the customized prints of any roll are limited only by one’s ability to get to the mall and pop into Spencer’s Gifts.

When the toilet paper runs out?  When it has fallen off the roll into mystery “water” in a public bathroom?  Even when it’s draped over-the-roll when we prefer it under-the-roll… all these dire situations affect our emotions.  The difference between a tremendous day and utter hell is often dictated by the morning pit stop, and the subsequent T.P. situation.

Point is:  there are millions of toilet paper enthusiasts out there, many of them Costco shoppers (myself included).  If this thoughtless monolith wants to continue to retain our business, I suggest Ms. Alvarez-Peters, et al, choose their words more carefully next time they decide to compare a multi-faceted plethora of personal choice to something as simple and interchangeable as wine.



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