Hobby Lobby, Who Exactly Are You Trying To Fool?
Anyone who reads Wise Bread regularly knows that I love a deal. I’m a deal hound — I sniff them out and save a lot of money every year. (See also: Get a Deal Every Time You Shop)
So, when I was strolling through a local Hobby Lobby today looking for a new sketch pad and some empty boxes, I happened upon this sign:
Wow, 90% off home accents, including pillows. Sweet! Our current pillows have begun to fray and have definitely seen better days. This was serendipitous. I abandoned my search for a sketch pad in favor of some pillow hunting instead.
With most accent pillows being between $20 and $40, I figured I would find something that suited our home for between $2–$4. Hey, maybe less if they had originally been $10-$15, like the ones Target often sells. The plethora of pillows that greeted me was great. I knew I’d find something.
Within a minute, I had found several that I liked. I picked up one, checked the price tag, and felt my jaw drop to the cold floor. After I picked it up, I checked the price again.
Here’s the cause of my nasty surprise:
Yes, you read that right. These pillows had an “original price” of between $90 and $120! Did I walk into the wrong store? Was I actually in an upscale boutique in New York.
No, I was in the clearance aisle of a Hobby Lobby in Colorado.
What was the explanation?
Well, perhaps the pillows were made of exotic fabrics, hand-woven by monks who ate only elderberries. A peek at the label showed that the exotic fabrics included polyester, rayon, and sometimes, cotton.
Maybe the brand was something I had never heard of. One that stands for very high quality. Borgata. Sounds pretty fancy. I did a web search and found plenty of Borgata pillows at prices ranging from $30-$55. Most were around $40.
I have to ask myself, were these pillows ever sold for the original price? Did they even get close to it? Or was this some ploy to bring people into the clearance aisle to grab pillows, only to give them sticker shock and have a good laugh. I would have asked a store clerk, but it was lunch time and the only two that were around were dealing with lines 6-people deep. No one had any pillows by the way.
I’m not saying $9-$12 is a lot to pay for a pillow. Not at all — it’s decent. That’s not the point. It’s the whole “90% OFF” thing that bothers me. Look again, and you'll notice the full sign reads "90% Off Our Everyday Low Prices." Really? $120 for a throw pillow is an everyday low price? Maybe for the Sultan of Brunei, but for an average family on an average income, it's not even in the same ballpark.
It’s almost a bait and switch, because people have a good idea of what pillows cost, and what 90% off that price is. If I said “90% off cappuccinos!” and then you discovered that my sale prices were $2-$4, you'd feel cheated. And rightly so. 90% off cappuccinos would mean 50 cents, tops (unless you're usually buying $18-$36 coffees, in which case, seek help immediately).
Is Hobby Lobby just blissfully unaware of how insane the original prices are for very ordinary pillows? Are they fooling anyone? And have you had similar experiences of vastly inflated prices to keep the sales prices high? Please, share your stories.