When Did We Become Shoppers?

Who would have thought that the elevator helped us become shoppers! In Made in America, Bill Bryson tells us that the safety elevator enabled stores to expand upward. And having multiple floors meant we could have department stores. We have…

Green Signals

When “green” is valued, hybrid car sales will be high. But here is the interesting part. When green is valued, looking “green” sometimes can be more important than being “green.” As a result, people buy more Priuses than Honda Civic…

Conspicuous Consumption

I once read that Thorstein Veblen let his dirty dishes accumulate until his cupboard was bare, then sprayed them with a hose and started all over again. Maybe a good idea, but unusual. This early 20th century scholar (1857-1929) was…

Conspicuous (Coffee) Consumption

How can you show your friends that you have ascended to your country’s middle class? Starbucks. A recent BusinessWeek article on the world’s most caffeinated countries cited a connection between an emerging middle class and coffee consumption. With the demand for instant…