Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Liz Claiborne?!?!?!

Best Buy Co Inc. announced yesterday, according to a bizjournals.com story, that they will, beginning in October, debut a line of women's bags and accessory cases designed and manufactured by Liz Claiborne, a well-renowned designer of women's high-end clothing and accessories. According to the story:

Julie Gilbert, Best Buy's senior vice president of training and its Win with Women program, told the paper, "It's a very prominent brand with wide appeal. Where you'll see us go is into other labels that you would typically see as you walk down Fifth Avenue."

The story went on to say that "Best Buy did not immediately return a call seeking comment." Not surprising. Their press department probably closed up shop and went home early-humiliated and embarrassed.

I have to say, I'm curious: first, how did someone as disconnected as Julie Gilbert must be rise to the level of Vice President of Training? Best Buy selling women's high-end handbags is tantamount to Victoria's Secret debuting a bargain line of electric hand tools!

Imagine this, gents:

Wife: "Oh! Honey, let's go into Linens-n-Things!"

Husband: "Uh-Uh! I'm gonna wait in the car."

Wife: "Well, did you know that they now have a line of fishing paraphernalia and hunting equipment?"

Husband: "Oh my goodness! Well let's go in baby! Come get me when you're done!"

I don't think so. For a number of reasons. First, you "manly" men-I don't care HOW much you like hunting or fishing, or how cool you think power tools are, you're not going to go willingly into Linens-n-Things, and happily browse through the fishing lures, while across the aisle, a dignified fifty-something woman browses through the 200 thread count, Egyptian cotton, California King bed sheet sets (one fitted, one top sheet, two king pillowcases). You're not going to rush into Victoria's Secret and compare handsaws and roto-hammers while a gaggle of nineteen year-old college girls (who can't seem to get out an entire sentence without saying "like" or "Oh my God!" at least three times) paws through the "5 Pair for $25" cotton panty table. Nor are you, ladies, going to rush into Best Buy looking for designer handbags, while across the aisle an accountant discusses the pros and cons of non-pixelated LCD vs. wide-perspective, high-intensity, VFD screens, and the diminishing pixel quality in flatscreens with a diagonal size of greater than 42".

But it's more than just that. Ladies, you'd feel, I'll bet, really uncomfortable in Linens-n-Things with that guy shopping the fishing lures and shotgun ammo across the aisle from you. And you'd feel awkward in Victoria's Secret, picking out underclothes with an overweight, sweaty plumber, in an "I'm With Stupid" T-shirt, arguing the merits of a 24V drillset vs. an 18V drillset, out loud, with himself-right across the aisle from you. They're separate worlds. They don't belong together.

And who's going to assist those refined, middle-aged, middle-to-upper class women, in pantsuits and high heels, who come in to browse the exclusive selection of Liz Claiborne bags? Some nineteen year-old guy named Andrew, who has stringy hair down to his shoulders, Airwalk sneakers, a silver post through his right nostril, and thinks GED is a band? Nope. Not going to happen.

And, finally, what about guys like me? I'm the antithesis of a "manly" man. I don't like to get dirty; I know nothing about working on engines or motors; my idea of "roughing it" is staying in the Marriott instead of the Four Seasons; I detest firearms, and don't know that I could kill an animal if I had to; I am terrible at virtually every sport (in fact, in fourth grade, when they picked baseball teams, they picked a guy in a wheelchair before they picked me); and I play the piano. All in all, not incredibly manly. So Best Buy is one of the few places that I can go with the guys and browse through things that are interesting to me-and feel manly doing it! And it's flat wrong that they're going to ruin that for me! It's a man place!

In my mind, "Win with Women" is synonymous with "Alienate Men." I'm sorry, but it just feels weird. And I don't know if I'll be able to go in there, and feel the same level of excitement, knowing that they're playing Barbra Streisand song on the Musak across the aisle.

How about you, dear readers? Do you feel the same? Is this a terrible faux pas on Best Buy's part? Or am I in the minority?


Katie Booker said...

I have to say, this is probably THE FUNNIEST post I've seen on here. I was laughing so hard imagining the sweaty guy in VS.
And your comment about not being athletic...I do remember days of TTCS and PE...but dont worry..There were guys worse than you, NOT MANY, but there were! lol jk!
But yeah I do agree that I don't quite see the purpose of Liz Claiborne being brought into Best Buy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Katie this post is very funny.

I do have to STRONGLY disagree with you though! Not about you being terrible in sports - about Best Buy. I do not think your comparisons to VS and Linens -N- Things are comparing apples to apples. I have been in retail for 10 years now and I am currently a Sales Manager for Staples and we do sale a ton of electronics. I am not streching it by any means when I say that I would "guesstamate" that 7 out of 10 of the laptops, desktops, printers, networking, monitors and digital cameras are purchased by business women! Maybe even 75%! My District Manager is a very smart and talented female and there are alot like her in the world. There are a lot of women in high corporate positions in a lot of fields that come through my store daily. I wish Staples had thought of this first! I sale on average, $6k-$8k per week in laptops at my store. How much of that is profit do you think? 20%? 15%? No... Try 1%... Even less if they are a advertised deal. Alot of times we lose $100+ on a laptop sale. We make our profit dollars by selling the attachments that go with the laptops. Wireless routers, Wireless mouse, ESP's (Extended Service Plans) and oh yeah, a laptop bag! Its really hard to sell a Swiss Gear laptop bag to the 7 out 10 female shoppers buying laptops. Same goes for the digital cameras. I sale the little tiny camera bags that fit really tight around the camera 4 to 1 compared to the one that has a pocket for the memory card, a pocket for the battery charger, a pocket for the lens cleaner, a pocket for a can of beer and a 3" wide beltloop. Why? Because those will not fit in her purse.

So I guess my point is - I would consider buying stock in Best Buy, except Staples gives me a 15% discount on its stock.

SheGazelle said...

I'm going to venture a guess that they're not gonna bring the purses and shoes in right across from the video games. How many of these purchases have we seen, scratched our heads and said "What are they thinking?"- only to find that our favorite store doesn't change at all.

Since I don't bet, I'll make a Christian wager that your "manly" corner of the world will remain as is. And the pant suit wearing women will still have to find their Liz sport jackets at the department store.

(Disclaimer: The world does get more strange everyday- so I am prepared to accept that I am dead wrong!)

PJ said...

Ok Shane: First, I didn't mean to imply that women were incapable of excelling in the business world; many do quite well, I'm sure. This one, though-this Julie-is downright foolish though!

And, I understand your point about the bags being higher margin, "add-on" items, but you've got to understand where I'm coming from. It's not so much that "women are going to be invading our 'man space'"-because, obviously, women shop there already. It's that women "stuff" will be mingled in with "man" stuff, in a manner that is unnatural!

True, my analogies were a little extreme, but I did that on purpose, to try and prove my point! Because I AM going to feel uncomfortable shopping in that "man" environment, with the "woman" environment in such close proximity. It's kind of like a culture shock. So, yeah, they'll probably sell plenty of them to their women shoppers, but I KNOW that they're going to alienate some men shoppers (like me)! Cuz it feels foreign!

And, c'mon-really: can you honestly imagine Barry Manilow playing softly in Best Buy as women quitly compare the linen weave shoulder bag with the mongolian leather (in burgandy) handbag-directly accross from a group of college guys, cranking up "Independance Day" on the 52" widescreen, just to see if they can blow the subwoofer on the Bose surround sound? Sorry-no.

PJ said...

And, gazelle: How objective can you really be-being a female and all? You have no perspective here!

You just like it because it'll give you an excuse to keep a frugal eye on hegazelle while he shops for that new laptop (you being the "nerd" that you are-isn't that what Dave Ramsey calls it?).

SheGazelle said...

Funny you should say that- truth be told, it would be HIM keeping me away from the laptops!
While I am the "nerd" with my Excel spreadsheet budget, I tend to be the spender too. He's a better saver than me.

Aaaaand, Best Buy ain't a MAN'S store anyway! :-P

PJ said...

You're not getting my point (can you hear the exasperation?)!

I'm not saying that Best Buy is a "man's" store! Women, obviously, shop there all the time! And I shop at Victoria's Secret (for my wife of course...I've found their stuff to be a little...uncomfortable (and ill-fitting) personally). My point is that the ENVIRONMENTS clash! And it's particularly painful for ME, because that's one of the places that enable me to feel MANLY! And when you incorporate this alternative WOMAN ORIENTED environment into this environment that I (and many other men) associate with manliness, it spoils the experience!

Does that make sense?

SheGazelle said...

Yeah, I know, I just thought I was getting the boot from the conversation since I was female. I do understand that should they throw in linen dresses in the same store I go get electronics from, it would certainly clash.

Nonetheless, my original point was only that I think you have nothing to worry about- your environment is not likely to be infringed upon.

Katie Booker said...

I don't want to imagine you and purple and pink frillies!!!
lol...Now I'm going to have nightmares tonite. =D

Anonymous said...

Robert Stephens was the owner of Geek squad who sold out to bestbuy and became the President of that branch of the company who brought along in the deal Julie Gilbert under the stipulation that she was made vice president of another branch of the company. I believe this is how she got the VP spot. Another case of not what you know but who you know.