Monday, August 18, 2008

What’s in the Bag?

Mark heard recently that JC Penny carries organic clothes and we stopped by our local store this weekend. A few feet within the front door, I saw that JC Penny sells a colorful cloth bag for $1.99 at check-out.

Or, at least, the theory is that they sell these bags.

I watched as a line of people moved through one register. The cloth bags were on the other side of the counter and not once did the JC Penny associate ask if a customer would like a cloth bag for $1.99, and not once did a customer ask for one.


Stay with me for a moment: I’ve noticed that TJX stores have a ridiculous new policy. If a store associate doesn’t ask you if you’d like to sign up for a TJX credit card, you receive a HUGE bottle of soda for free. Um, I don’t want the card or the soda. But this got me thinking . . .

Stores that carry their own cloth bags—like JC Penny and Hannaford Supermarkets—should start a policy where they ask customers if they’d like to buy a cloth bag with their purchase. Or, better yet, start giving away the cloth bags (using them in place of plastic) and instituting a policy where a customer gets a small percentage off all future purchases when he or she reuses the bag.

I mean, really, the JC Penny cloth bag costs $1.99 (which has to be just pennies wholesale). And, to JC Penny, each bag is a walking billboard as—presumably—the shopper will carry the bag around town.

In this scenario, the shopper wins, JC Penny wins, and Mother Nature wins. My work here is done.

Question of the blog: Have you noticed any big chain retailers successfully promoting their cloth bags?

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