1. Sears!

    As you know,  this past weekend a lot of folks were hoping to get an iPad from Sears for $69.

    And while you may be heartened to know that public opinion is largely on Sears’ side rather than on that of those who ordered the item in question (and who most have labeled as “greedy” or “stupid,” or “incredibly greedy and enormously stupid”) I’d like to offer some evidence that may in fact change your mind:

    Sears pulled this little stunt once before! Oh yes!

    Back at the turn of the century – the real turn of the century, not that lame one we just had less than a dozen years ago, my Great Great Grand Uncle – oh, let’s say, Zebediah—sure, it’s a little cliché but why not? – Great Great Grand Uncle Zebediah Parsnips was fascinated by the latest in state-of-the-art moving-picture technology. Sure, he had a Magic Lantern, but those were so 1890s. So when he’d seen a crazy good deal in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. Fall 1900 catalog – $34.00 for an Optigraph – he of course jumped at it:

    Now, bear in mind, this price wasn’t for the already outdated 1899 model, oh no. For thirty-four bucks, Sears was promising you the next generation Optigraph. Too good to be true? Uncle, eh, what was it?, Zeke? Zeb!, he didn’t wait around to find out:

    As you can well imagine, there was no way Sears was going to actually let the 1900 Optigraph go for that price. Turns out $34.00 was a so-called “typo.” The real price? A significantly steeper thirty-four and a quarter.

    Well, Uncle What’s-His-Name was pissed, especially since Sears refused to honor their advertised price. Instead they sent him a couple upright parlor grand pianos, a pump organ, a houseful of furniture, a four-seater enclosed surrey, six bushels of oysters and a credit for the balance, $18.35, which they put on his Discover Card.

    Just so you know, I spent a goddamn hour and a half in the garage looking for that stupid retro catalog.

    Posted by on July 19, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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