Thursday, March 19, 2009

Virgin Megastore Union Square

Union Square in San Francisco, that is.

This is the front of the store as of this morning. The signs have been changed from "Up to 40% off" to "Up to 50% off."

When I was there on Sunday, the only things that were 40% off were magazines. CDs and DVDs were 25% off, and Blu-ray discs were 20% off.

I hate to sound unfeeling, but I don't see the loss of Virgin as nearly the tragedy that losing Tower Records was. Virgin's prices have always been too high for my tastes, even for sale items. At Tower, I often saw sale prices that were on a par with Amazon's prices (with shipping). But whenever I've shopped at Virgin, my first thought upon seeing their sale prices has always been, "I bet I could find that significantly cheaper online."
When Tower was around, I would buy something there on impulse during about half of my visits. At Virgin, I have bought things on impulse on fewer than one visit out of ten. And the reason has been their "MSRP or close to it" pricing structure.

One thing you need to remember about all "Everything must go" sales is that the first thing that happens is that everything is raised back to Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price before the "10-40% off" is applied, so the deals are not always such good deals. Virgin has never been the land of bargains, and it won't be one until the closing sale exceeds 25% off.

Here's another reason I have never liked shopping at Virgin:

Several months ago, I bought a DVD on the second floor. On my way out of the store, I noticed a CD that I wanted, so I picked it up and got in line. When I got to the register, the goth chick behind the counter started to ring me up and said, "Oh, did you get caught?"

I asked what she meant. She pointed to the Virgin Megastore bag in my hand, held up the CD she was ringing up for me and said, "Did they catch you sneaking out the door with this in your bag and make you come back to pay for it?"

I would like to say that I drew myself up, haughty and indignant, and said firmly, "How DARE you accuse me of shoplifting! I demand to see your manager NOW!"

Instead, I just looked at her like I barely understood what she said, and I said, "Erm...No."

But (as Bertie Wooster would say) I meant it to sting.

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