MONEY money well spent

How a $300 Sewing Machine Gave Me 30 Years of Warmth

illustration of woman using sewing machine to make quilt
Gary Musgrave

My simple and reliable machine always did what I needed, so I saw no reason to upgrade to a fancier new model.

I learned to sew in high school, but I’d barely touched a needle and thread by the time I landed in Germany in 1983 as a 24-year-old American soldier. One day while shopping on the military base, I saw a Pfaff sewing machine for $300, almost half of a month’s pay. I decided on the spot to splurge. I hoped to take lessons from my grandmother, an avid quilter, when I returned to the States. Besides, I was getting married, and I figured a sewing machine might come in handy.

My husband was also a soldier, and when our first child was born in 1986, I left the Army to be a stay-at-home mom. Over the next eight years, whenever my husband received orders to a new duty station, the sewing machine shuttled along with us. With the arrival of two more babies, however, sewing took a backseat to motherhood.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1992 that I was able to visit my grandmother in Kentucky for a few days. After receiving those long-delayed lessons, I was confident enough to attempt my first quilt—an anniversary gift for my sister and brother-in-law. I loved turning a pile of fabric pieces into something beautiful and useful. Over the next few years, I made three more quilts as wedding gifts for friends.

Finally, after I had given away four quilts, it was time to keep one at home. I turned my husband’s well-worn rugby T-shirts into a quilt for his 60th birthday.

Whenever I purchased quilting material, I would admire the latest sewing machines in the fabric stores. All the fancy features were mind-boggling—as were the price tags. But my simple and reliable machine did what I needed, so I saw no reason to upgrade.

My frugal grandmother certainly would have approved. Unfortunately, she passed away, at 90, before I could get back to Kentucky to share my quilting stories with her. My family and I still wrap ourselves in her quilts on cold nights in Georgia, just as we did in Germany, New Hampshire, and all the other places we’ve lived. My next quilt—for me this time—is already in progress. More than 30 years ago, I invested $300 in a sewing machine that is still paying dividends of beauty, love—and warmth.

Cindy Dunn is the founder of the Foreign Language Library Online . She lives in Columbus, Ga.

Do you have a purchase you consider Money Well Spent? Email us about it and what it means to you at wellspent@moneymail.com.

MONEY Shopping

10 Things Millennials Buy Far More Often Than Everyone Else

For real, snakes?

Roughly a year ago, we at MONEY rounded up a fun list of 10 things millennials won’t spend money on—at least not to the same degree as older generations. Cars, cable TV, and Costco were all on the list, as were houses. A freshly released Pew Research Center study indicates that a larger-than-expected percentage of young people are still living with their parents rather than moving out and perhaps buying a place of their own.

Yes, millennials are stingy when it comes to spending in certain categories. Yet even as they aren’t following in the footsteps of their consumer forebears in terms of embracing big-ticket items like houses and cars, millennials spend far more freely on certain other items compared to older generations. Here are 10 things they buy more often—sometimes a lot more often—than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, including a few big surprises.

  • Gas Station Food

    Customers line up for their free Slurpees in a 7-Eleven store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    Millennials have been referred to as the grab-and-go generation, with 29% saying that they often purchase food and drink while on the run, compared with 19% of consumers overall. You might think that Chipotle or perhaps Starbucks would be the biggest beneficiary of this habit. But according to the NPD Group, Gen Y restaurant visits are actually on the decline, particularly among older millennials who are more likely to have families. What’s more, in terms of drawing millennial food and beverage visits, the fast-casual segment is handily beaten by an under-the-radar retail category: the gas station.

    Whereas fast-casual accounted for 6.1% of millennial food and beverage stops in 2014, NPD researchers point out that 11.4% of such visits took place at convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Wawa, Cumberland Farms, and Sheetz, where the hot to-go offerings include salads, wraps, healthy(ish) sandwiches, pizza, and wings alongside old standards like hot dogs and microwaveable burritos. Some even have espresso and smoothie bars, which is probably news to most older folks. “If you’re 50 or over, you still think the convenience store is primarily a gas station,” the NPD Group’s Harry Balzer explained to USA Today.

  • Same-Day Delivery

    FedEx Same Day delivery truck
    courtesy FedEx

    Patience is not exactly a virtue among consumers who grew up with smartphones and social media. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow sums up this mindset as “I want what I want, when I want it,” and points to a Shop.org survey indicating that millennials have been twice as likely as other generations to pay extra for same-day delivery of online purchases.

    Earlier this year, the New York Times took note of a surge in same-day delivery, in particular among services supplying alcohol directly to the customer’s door. “It has not hurt that millennials, who are used to ordering food for delivery on their smartphones, have come of legal drinking age,” the Times noted.

  • Hot Sauce

    Sriracha bottles on shelf
    Patti McConville—Alamy

    Sriracha is everywhere. It is spicing up potato chips and croutons, adding some extra kick to Heinz ketchup, and offering a strange twist at Pizza Hut. Heck, it’s even in beer. And the overwhelming reason Sriracha is ubiquitous is that it’s evolved into the go-to condiment of the all-important millennial demographic. More than half of American households now have hot sauce on hand. Sriracha specifically is stocked in 9% of them—and in 16% of households headed by someone under age 35.

    The hot sauce craze has translated to a constantly changing roster of ultra-spicy items on fast food menus. Part of the reason that millennials prefer spicier foods is that they were exposed to different tastes at fairly young ages. “Millennials like hot, spicy foods because of their experience with more ethnic foods, like Hispanic and Asian,” said Kelly Weikel, senior consumer research manager at Technomic.

  • Snakes

    snake collar
    Luca Gavagna—Getty Images/iStockphoto

    This past spring, an odd extension for Google Chrome was desisnged to allow users to sub the phrase “snake people” in the place of “millennials” on screens. It was a fun goof that now seems like ancient history. But it turns out that millennials really are snake people, in the sense that they have more interest than other generations in buying and keeping snakes—and all reptiles—as pets.

    “This age group, 15-35 years old, is the generation that is most active in reptile keeping and searching for related material online,” Keith Morris, national sales manager for the reptile product site ZooMed.com, told Pet Age last summer. Data collected by Pet Age also indicates millennials are more willing to splurge on their pets with luxuries like custom beds: 76% said they’d be likely to splurge on pets rather than themselves, compared with just 50% of Baby Boomers. Yet another survey indicated that millennials are far more interested than Boomers and Gen Xers in pet healthcare as a job benefit. So the big takeaway is: Millennials really love pets in all shapes, sizes, and species.

  • Athleisure

    Yoga Pants
    Kirsten Dayton—Alamy

    The demographic that overwhelmingly gets the credit for yoga pants replacing jeans as the mainstream go-to casual bottom of choice (and even coming to be seen as legitimate work clothes at the office) is of course the millennial generation. Yoga pants, hoodies, sweatpants, and other leggings are lumped into the “athleisure” or “leisurewear” clothing category, which has been most warmly embraced by millennials—and in turn inspired retailers ranging from Ann Taylor to the Gap to Dick’s Sporting Goods to ramp up their selections of women’s exercise wear that’s not necessarily for exercise.

    “When I look at athleisure bottom business—the yoga pant, sweat pant, sweat short—it has displaced the jean business one to one,” NPD Group retail analyst Marshal Cohen said recently. Sales of such clothing rose 13% during a recent 12-month span, and now represent roughly 17% of the entire clothing market, according to the market research firm. “For every jean we are not selling or used to sell we are selling an athleisure bottom. It has become as important to the market as denim would be.”

    Side note: Yoga pants aren’t the only skin-tight garment getting a boost from millennials. During the 12-month period that ended in May, spending on women’s tights was up 24% among millennials, who now account for 45% of all sales in the category.

  • Organic Food

    Organic produce sections in The Whole Foods Market in Willowbrook, Illinois
    Jeff Haynes—AFP/Getty Images

    According to a Gallup poll conducted last summer, 45% of Americans actively seek out organic foods to include in their diets. Millennials are a lot more likely than average to feel that it’s important to go organic, however, so the preferences of younger consumers skew the overall average up. Whereas only 33% of Americans age 65 and older actively try to include organic foods in their diets, 53% of Americans ages 18 to 29 do so.

  • Tattoos & Piercings

    Millennial with the words "Hustle" and "Money" tattooed on each leg using his iPhone
    Petri Artturi Asikainen—Getty Images

    It’s been estimated that 20% of Americans—and nearly 40% of millennials—have at least one tattoo. Surveys conducted for Pew Research several years ago indicated that about 30% of millennials had piercings somewhere other than their ears, which is six times higher than older Americans.

    Despite the growing acceptance of tattoos simply by way of them becoming mainstream, millennials remain somewhat cautious about getting one because it could hurt their chances of being hired. Or at least they’re careful when deciding the placement of a tattoo. In a recent University of Tampa poll, 86% of students said that having a visible tattoo would hurt one’s chances of getting a job. It’s understandable, then, that 70% of millennial workers with tattoos say they hide their ink from the boss.

  • Energy Drinks

    Monster brand energy drinks on sale in a convenience store in New York
    Richard Levine—Alamy

    American parents, likely exhausted by nighttime feedings, hectic schedules, and such, understandably feel the need to resort to energy drinks. A recent Mintel survey shows that 58% of U.S. households with children consume Red Bull, Monster, or other energy drinks, compared to just 27% of households without kids.

    Meanwhile, millennials are even more likely than parents in general to throw back energy drinks: 64% of millennials consume them regularly, and 29% of older millennials (ages 27 to 37, who are more likely to be parents themselves) say they’ve increased the number of energy drinks they consume in recent months.

  • Donations at the Cash Register

    signing electronic bill at register
    Juan Monino—Getty Images

    Some shoppers feel annoyed and put on the spot when a store clerk asks if they’d like to make a charitable donation while ringing up a purchase at the cash register. This isn’t the case with the typical millennial, however.

    According to a report from the consultancy firm the Good Scout Group, of all generations “Gen Y likes being asked to give to charity at the register the most.” What’s more, millennials say that they donate at store cash registers more often than any other generation, and they also felt “most positively about charities and retailers once they gave.”

  • Craft Booze

    Growlers on a table outside Faction Beer Brewery, Alameda, California
    Silicon Valley Stock—Alamy

    More so than other generations, millennials have demonstrated a distaste for mass-market beers and spirits—and a preference for the pricier small-batch booze. In one survey, 43% of millennials say craft beer tastes better than mainstream brews, compared to less than one-third of Baby Boomers. As millennials have grown up and more and more have crossed the age of 21, craft beer sales have soared at the same time that mass-market brands like Budweiser and Miller have suffered. A Nielsen poll showed that 15% of millennials’ beer money goes to the craft segment, which is impressive considering the limited buying power of this college-age demographic. By comparison, craft brews account for less than 10% of money spent on beer by Gen X and Baby Boomers.

    Millennials are also given an outsize share of the credit for the boom in craft spirits over household brands handled by the big distributors. As with craft beer, researchers say that millennials like craft liquors partly because it’s easier to connect to the back story of the beverages, and there’s an air of “inclusive exclusivity” and uniqueness about them. For that matter, millennials seem to care more in general about liquor brands. In one survey, 64% of millennials said that including the brand of spirit in a menu cocktail description was important or very important, compared to 55% of Gen Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers who felt that way.

MONEY Shopping

Where to Find the Best Back to School Deals Right Now

150727_EM_BTSShopping
Richard B. Levine—Newscom

Here are the six places you should shop.

Back-to-school shopping season is already in full swing. Or at least the back-to-school promotional deals are. The circulars from this week’s Sunday newspapers were full of retailers pushing back-to-school merchandise in the hopes of beating the competition to families’ limited school supply dollars.

As for shoppers themselves, there seems to be no rush to stock up for a school year that isn’t starting for a few weeks. In a new survey conducted by Deloitte, 38% of parents said back-to-school shopping is less important than it’s been in the past because they tend to stock up on needed supplies throughout the year. What’s more, 31% say they’ll complete back-to-school shopping after the school year begins, up 5% over last year.

More parents are also reusing last year’s school supplies to save money: 39% said they’ll do so in 2015, up from just 26% in 2011. That may partly explain how families expect to scale back on overall back-to-school spending this year. According to National Retail Federation data, the average family with a child in grades K-12 will spend $630 this season, down 6% from a year ago. The number of families that will shop last minute—a week or two before the first day—rose too, from 25% to 30%.

Perhaps parents are catching on to how back-to-school sales stretch on for weeks, sometimes even months, so there’s no need to hurry. Shoppers can also count on some of the best back-to-school sales popping up at the last minute, with big discounts on all manner of school supplies appearing during Labor Day sales.

All that said, now is a great time to pick and choose select bargains. Bear in mind that not every “sale” is worth your while. Target, for instance, is promoting a “Temp Price Cut” on 70-page Mead notebooks that normally cost $1. The “special” sale brings the price down to 99¢, for a discount of … a whopping single penny. We found the deals from the six retailers below far more enticing.

Apple: In addition to its usual back-to-school discounts of $20 to $200 off laptops, tablets, and desktops, Apple is also including an instant credit for a pair of Beats headphones at no extra charge with certain purchases. A long list of terms and conditions apply that specify which purchases include the free set of headphones (basically, MacBooks and iMacs) and who is eligible for the discounts (college students and educators). The discounts are in effect right now online and at Apple Stores; the free headphones offer is valid now in Apple Stores but is available for online purchases only from August 6 to September 18.

CVS: Among other deals, many Sharpie, Bic, and Papermate pens are available on a buy-one-get-one-50%-off basis at CVS locations.

Office Depot: In addition to the usual coupons and sales on electronics and classic school supplies, Office Depot is offering 20% to 50% off cleaning supplies—parents are often asked to supply hand sanitizers and tissues for classrooms—and a special promotion knocks an extra $20 off qualifying online purchases of at least $125, and $40 off purchases of $250 or more.

Staples: The sub-$1 deals will probably grab your attention first. One-subject notebooks, pencil sharpeners, and a 12-pack of erasers are each priced at just 25¢, while a 100-pack of index cards is 47¢, a 12-pack of #2 pencils is 68¢, and a 10-pack of Crayola markers is 97¢. Tons of other sale items amount to roughly 50% off list prices, while various coupons offer things like 25% back in store rewards for all in-store purchases and a ream of multipurpose paper for only 1¢.

Walgreens: The Deal of the Week is 10¢ for two-pocket paper folders. Two-packs of Sharpies and various other school supplies are on sale for 99¢, while notebooks and Crayola art supplies are priced at buy-one-get-one-50%-off and backpacks are buy-one-get-one-free. In most cases, a Walgreens loyalty card is required for discounts.

Walmart: Among Walmart’s best back-to-school deals are school uniforms starting at just just $4.47 apiece and bulk-discount bundles of, say, three boxes of 12 Bic pens each for $4.53.

MONEY online shopping

Amazon Flies Higher Than Ever One Year After Epic Flop

Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., unveils the Fire Phone during an event at Fremont Studios in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
Mike Kane—Bloomberg via Getty Images Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., unveils the Fire Phone on June 18, 2014.

The Fire Phone is old news—exactly like Amazon wants.

Amazon has arguably never been hotter. After posting a surprise profit for the quarter ending June 30, the company’s stock surged 20% overnight on Thursday, resulting in the world’s largest e-retailer being worth more than Walmart. The impressive sales figures don’t even factor in last week’s Prime Day, the manufactured holiday that Amazon created to juice sales in the middle of summer that wound up surpassing Black Friday in terms of orders and purchases.

What’s interesting is that almost exactly one year before Amazon hit its current peak, it offered up a product for sale that is seen as one of its biggest misfires. The Amazon Fire Phone officially went on sale on July 25, 2014. It was initially offered only combined with a two-year AT&T wireless contract at a subsidized price of $199 to $299.

Even before the phone hit the market, critics bashed it as “uninspired” and “just too expensive.” The smartphone’s unique features—a 3-D screen and a shopping-assistance tool called Firefly—were deemed largely to be gimmicks that few people wanted, let alone needed. Critics also hated the Fire Phone’s limited access to apps, and how the device’s overarching purpose seemed to focus almost exclusively on getting the user to buy stuff at Amazon.

Less than two months after first going on sale, Amazon’s phone was discounted to 99¢, one of the fastest price drops ever. By December, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was referring to the phone as a “bold bet” that just didn’t work out, as the company took a $170 million writedown related to the flop.

How could Amazon have miscalculated so badly on the Fire Phone? And how did the company wind up shrugging off the failure and having a gangbusters 2015 anyway?

An in-depth CNET explores just this territory, and the conclusions it reaches are that even as most Fire Phone early adopters regretted their purchases and felt burned, plenty of them still shop at Amazon and pay $99 annually for Prime memberships. One of the prime (ha-ha) reasons for Amazon getting into the smartphone market was to boost sales via Amazon and Prime subscriptions. Fire Phone owners received one year of Prime membership free with their purchase, and the Firefly scanning feature made it exceptionally easy to buy almost anything via Amazon, in mere seconds.

Amazon Prime members spend far more at Amazon than nonmembers, so it makes sense that the company has been pushing Prime harder than ever over the last year. Among the strategies employed to boost Prime subscriptions in the months after the Fire Phone debuted:

• Heavily discounting Kindle and Fire tablets, which automatically come with free Prime trial subscriptions—the majority of which seem to turn into paid Prime subscriptions.

• Dropping the annual price of Prime to $72 in January to celebrate the Golden Globe nominations for “Transparent,” the show starring Jeffrey Tambor that can only be streamed via Prime.

• Producing original movies that can only be seen with Prime, adding to the value of the service.

• Hosting Prime Day sales on July 15, which were available only to Prime subscribers, thereby forcing anyone who wanted in on the deals to sign up for free trial memberships, which Amazon hopes will turn into paid memberships.

While Amazon declared Prime Day a rip-roaring success that greatly increased sales and boosted Prime membership, the reviews in social media and consumer circles were mixed at best. Many thought that Walmart actually won the day because it hadn’t overhyped and underdelivered on the deals like Amazon had.

Even if the consensus is that Amazon hyped Prime Day too much, it pales in comparison to how overhyped and underwhelming consumers deemed the Fire Phone to be. Amazon recently strongly hinted Prime Day would become an annual event, which didn’t come as much of a surprise. Meanwhile, if Jeff Bezos suddenly announced Amazon was introducing a new Fire Phone to the market, that would be viewed not just as a bold bet, but a shocking one.

TIME apple pay

Apple Pay Rival To Hit Stores This August

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It has funding from Wal-Mart and Target

Apple Pay rival CurrentC is gearing up for use in stores by consumers.

The app — which was created by Merchant Customer Exchange and has funding from Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy — is getting a limited trial run in stores next month, according to Bloomberg. It’s expected to be used in larger public tests later this year, the report said.

Merchant Customer Exchange is expected to introduce the app during the third quarter, Bloomberg said.

The app has fierce competition, though, with electronic payment systems from Apple and Google already available to shoppers.

As the report notes, there are security and other issues involved as CurrentC goes public. For instance, the app was hacked last year during testing, which might make potential users wary of its safety. And Bloomberg notes that CurrentC has not signed deals with credit-card companies.

“We expect there to be more than one successful player in mobile payments, and we expect to be one of them,” Scott Rankin, Merchant Customer Exchange’s COO, told Bloomberg.

MONEY deals

8 Ways to Negotiate a Better Price

559744101
Thomas Barwick—Getty Images

Simply asking for a discount can save you money.

Negotiating often means having to be a little bit pushy and understanding basic psychological techniques in order to get a good deal. Because of this, many of us forgo negotiating and continue paying retail price for almost everything we purchase.

We often forget, however, how simply asking for a discount can save money, thereby avoiding the need for negotiating tactics. It’s a simple idea but here are eight questions you can ask that could save you big bucks.

1. Does This Expired Coupon Still Work?

Many of us are guilty of clipping coupons for future use, and then forgetting about them only to realize they’ve expired. Instead of throwing away the expired coupon, take it to the store and ask if they will accept it, anyway.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond offers this for all of their coupons, and Walmart will take expired coupons as long as the register doesn’t read it as such. So, don’t let the expiration date fool you.

2. Is This the Best Price You Can Offer?

When working with smaller boutique shops, or thrift stores, they expect you to negotiate. Asking if this is the final price, or the best they can do, will often get you a bit of money knocked off the final price.

If they aren’t willing to budge, try walking away and seeing if they come down on their price. If not, just be patient and look for another salesperson who’s willing to negotiate on price.

3. Can You Match a Competitor’s Price?

Big stores like Target and Lowe’s will often match a competitor’s advertised price on the same object simply by asking. You can either bring in the competitor’s weekly circular displaying the price of the exact same item, or use your smartphone to bring up the webpage that displays the price online.

In some cases, you can even submit the price of a competitor after the fact, and receive a refund for the difference. This is another reason why it’s important to save your receipts.

4. I Want to Cancel My Service — Is There a Better Deal?

Threatening to cancel your Internet or cable TV service isn’t a negotiating tactic you should use all the time, but if you’re in the process of moving, or evaluating your yearly expenses, this could be the perfect time to ask this question.

Most companies will offer a six-month promotion, or other short-term deal, in order to keep you as a customer. Simply let them know that you’re thinking of switching services, or cancelling altogether, and ask if they can offer a better deal for you to stay with their service.

5. Will You Take $X If I Pay in Cash?

Nothing is a stronger negotiating strategy than cold hard cash. Ask the cashier or sales rep if they will take $X amount of money if you pay the entire balance in cash. Maybe even flash the cash you have as a way to let them know you’re serious.

Most of the time they will consider this option, especially when you’re buying a car, since the dealership can avoid additional red tape from loans and the fees.

6. Can We Barter Services Free of Charge?

If you have a particular set of skills, you may be able to barter services in exchange for something you need. I offer my landlord bookkeeping services in exchange for a discount on my portion of rent.

I have a friend who gets free labor on houses she renovates by offering scrap metal and other valuable recyclables to contractors in exchange for having them remove the items from the house. It’s a win-win for both parties. So don’t be afraid to barter your services instead of exchanging money.

7. Do I Qualify for Various Discounts?

A good portion of restaurants and retail stores offer military or senior discounts that aren’t publicly advertised. If you don’t ask, you won’t know what kind of various discounts are available. Most military or senior citizen discounts will be in the 10%-15% range.

Another lesser-known discount is the friends and family discount. Even if you’re not sure if a family member or friend qualifies you to receive a discount, it never hurts to ask. Some employees will occasionally use their discount on your behalf.

8. Are There Any Upcoming Sales or Holiday Promotions?

Most stores offer yearly sales and holiday promotions as a way to drum up business or clear out last season’s inventory. As a woman, I know that Victoria’s Secret offers their semi-annual sale, so that’s usually when I make any purchases.

Ask the customer service rep if there are any upcoming sales or holiday promotions, then mark your calendar so you can come back (or order online) to save some money. Sometimes they’ll even offer you the sale price right then and there. It never hurts to ask!

More From Wise Bread:

 

MONEY Shopping

No Taxes on Back-to-School Shopping! (But Only in These 17 States)

2015-tax-map
Tim Barber—Chattanooga Times Free Press/AP

Starting next Friday, these states are offering tax holidays on clothing, computers, school supplies, and more.

The best time to do your back-to-school shopping, or any shopping for that matter, is starting next week. Every summer, a number of states hold sales tax holidays on all sorts of supplies, from notebooks and pencils to clothing and computers.

This year’s round of holidays starts on July 31 (get ready, Georgia and Mississippi!) and ends in late August, with each state’s tax-free period typically lasting one weekend.

As MONEY’s Brad Tuttle noted last year, these tax holidays aren’t exactly Black Friday when it comes to savings: Sales taxes in most participating states ranges from 6% to 9%. That said, with parents spending more than $600 on average for school supplies, according to the National Retail Federation, those savings can certainly add up. And you don’t have to go to the mall to save: the tax break applies to online purchases as well.

Want to see if your state is set to give you a break? Hover over the map below—the sales dates in participating states will pop up, along with the eligible items. Prices listed next to a product category mean you can’t spend more than that amount on any individual item and still get the tax break, although there is no cap on overall spending.

One special case is Massachusetts, where the state legislature has gone down to the wire waiting to approve a 2015 tax holiday. It’s likely to pass so we’ve included it on the map, but be aware that this particular holiday is still unconfirmed.

*Note: Dollar figures are per item. There is no cap on overall spending.

 

MONEY Shopping

Say Goodbye to Shopping at Walmart at 3 A.M.

Exterior of Walmart store at night
John Crowe—Alamy

24-hour Walmart Supercenter is fading.

Roughly 40 Walmart Supercenter locations are giving up on being open to shoppers 24/7, and many more Walmart locations could follow by closing for at least a few hours in the wee hours of the day.

According to Bloomberg, two dozen Walmart locations backed off 24-hour openings this spring, and more than a dozen others will follow suit. Affected stores include those in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Shoppers in these areas will somehow have to figure out how to live without the option of heading to Walmart between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., the period when most stores seem to be shutting down.

The most obvious reason Walmart is backing off 24-hour stores is that they’re not worth the cost or trouble. In the age of e-commerce and 24/7 Internet shopping, few consumers are compelled to head to an actual store in the middle of the night. Earlier this year, Walmart increased hourly wages for 500,000 workers. Apparently, the world’s largest retailer has decided it’s not worth it to staff nearly empty stores with cashiers and clerks overnight.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the changes are the start of a much larger trend. “I question if it is a test and could become a national rollout,” Edward D. Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough told Bloomberg. “There aren’t that many shoppers there overnight. How many people are going to Wal-Mart at 2 in the morning?”

You Might Also Like:

10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

Vanguard’s Founder Explains What Your Investment Advisor Should Do

Americans Left $24 Billion in Retirement on the Table Last Year

MONEY Shopping

‘Trophy’ Women’s T-shirt at Target Called Sexist and Demeaning

target employee organizing t-shirts and apparel in target store
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Target thinks the shirt is cute and funny.

Does a T-shirt featuring the word “TROPHY” that’s sold at Target help perpetuate rape culture? Indeed it does, according to a new Change.org petition.

“The truth is that millions of women and young girls are taken as ‘trophies’ every year in war, sex trafficking, slavery, and rape,” states the petition, which was created with the goal of pressuring Target to stop selling the shirt. “The word trophy should not refer to any person, man or woman, because we are not THINGS- we are human beings. Labeling any person as a ‘Trophy’ is demeaning their humanity and objectifying them as a tangible object that can be bought, used, and disposed of.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had a few hundred online signatures. But after attracting significant attention in the media over the past day, the total was up over 12,000 signatures at last check.

As USA Today observed, people offended by the “Trophy” shirt have been hitting Target on social media for weeks. “The fact @Target has a bridal shirt that says ‘Trophy’ on it AND in the juniors section sickens me. How can that seem like a good idea?” one woman Tweeted more than a month ago.

Target responded to the controversy with a statement explaining, “It is never our intention to offend anyone.” What’s more, Target insists that many customers love the “Trophy” shirts. The joke seems to be a play “trophy wife,” a term coined way back in 1989 in a Fortune article about CEOs and their younger second wives. “These shirts are intended as a fun wink and we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests.”

Obviously, not everyone agrees that the shirt’s message is lighthearted and cute. It’s a fun wink “kind of like how catcalls are just friendly observations,” says a writer at Jezebel.

Read next: 5 Ways That Amazon Is Still Far Superior to New Upstart Jet.com

MONEY online shopping

5 Ways That Amazon Is Still Far Superior to New Upstart Jet.com

Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center
Bartek Sadowski—Bloomberg via Getty Images

For the time being, Amazon has the edge in several key categories.

On Tuesday, the groundbreaking shopping site Jet.com launched nationwide, and one thing is immediately, abundantly clear: Jet’s prices are indeed as phenomenally cheap as promised.

Jet.com CEO Marc Lore says that the site, which gives members access to cheap goods based on a complicated dynamic pricing system, is not trying to compete against Amazon. Yet the site maintains that its prices are 10% to 15% cheaper than anywhere else on the web, Amazon included, and the prices of products on Jet are listed side by side with prices for the same items on Amazon. Jet’s claims on cheaper prices are more or less verified by a Wells Fargo analysis showing the site’s prices are 9% lower on average than Amazon’s, according to InternetRetailer.com,

What’s equally apparent as of Tuesday’s launch is that the overall customer experience at Jet is hardly the equal of the world’s largest e-retailer. Here are five categories where Amazon still has the edge over the new kid on the block:

Convenience. Jet members, who pay $50 annually after a free 90-day trial period, get free two-day shipping on most common household items, as long as the total purchase is at least $35. But because the company focuses relentlessly on keeping prices down, it promises slightly slower delivery (two to five days) on other products in order to control shipping costs.

Amazon Prime subscribers, by comparison, get two-day shipping on almost all purchases fulfilled directly by Amazon, and orders of $35+ are eligible for free same-day delivery in some parts of the country. Amazon customers who don’t subscribe to the $99-per-year Prime service can get free standard (slow) shipping on purchases of $35 or more. Amazon also gives all manner of shoppers a variety of shipping options—one-day, Saturday delivery, no-rush shipping in exchange for credits that equate to discounts—that should meet the needs of nearly every buyer.

Selection. Jet has an impressive 10 million or so products for sale. But Amazon’s selection blows Jet’s away by a factor of at least 10, and perhaps as much as 20 or 30. (Amazon doesn’t reveal the exact number of items it lists for sale, but estimates range from 100 million to upwards of 300 million.)

Early testers of Jet’s pilot program have noted that the selection is solid in terms of standard household items such as cleaning supplies and toiletries, but weak in categories like sporting goods, apparel, and (understandably) fresh and frozen foods. As of Tuesday, searches for things like “socks” and brands like “Hanes” and “Nike” yielded no results at all at Jet.com. (You can, however, purchase such items through Jet partners like Macy’s, J. Crew, Apple, and Crate & Barrel and get 5% to 15% back in the form of Jet.com credits.)

Browsing. Jet is terrific for shoppers who know exactly what they want to buy but simply want the cheapest price, assuming the site actually stocks the item in question. The browsing experience at Jet, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired compared to Amazon.

Amazon has countless pages, lists, filters, subcategories, and recommendations to help shoppers find the most suitable item in the situation when the customer is unsure what to buy. For instance, say you need to buy a birthday present for a party your child is attending. If you typed in “boys gift age 10″ at Amazon, you’d see more than 25,000 results that seem age-appropriate based on a quick scan. You could narrow the search in seconds by clicking on category filters like “Toys & Games” and choose among 20 more subcategories such as “Electronics for Kids,” “Puzzles,” and “Building Toys.” Enter the same search at Jet, and the site returns exactly one item—a set of FDNY figures that’s not necessarily appropriate for 10-year-olds but turned up, presumably, because the product contains 10 pieces.

User Reviews. Studies show that more than 60% of online shoppers consult user reviews before making a purchase decision. But for the time being at least, Jet has no user reviews whatsoever. This isn’t surprising considering the service is so new—it hasn’t had that many users yet. If and when Jet does give the option for members to add product reviews, it’ll likely take a long time until there are enough for shoppers to feel like they’re getting a true picture rather than the snap judgments of a few individuals.

Amazon has been compiling reviews for years, after all, so it’s got quite a head start. The absence of user reviews at Jet probably doesn’t matter much for household goods—diapers, paper towels, and such. Consumers tend to know the brands they like in these departments. As for other times when shoppers would feel more comfortable seeing reviews before picking an item to buy, there’s nothing to stop consumers from using Amazon like a showroom, in the same way that Amazon customers have used Target, Best Buy, and other physical stores as showrooms. The term “showrooming” means to scope out an item in one location before ultimately buying it from another, cheaper retailer. Now that Jet’s in the picture, the tables can be turned on Amazon, with showroomers browsing products and reviews on Amazon before purchasing them from Jet.

Other Membership Perks. In addition to shipping benefits on purchases, Prime subscribers have access to unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, unlimited ad-free music streaming, unlimited photo storage, and free access to countless e-books via the Kindle Lending Library, among other perks. The value of these services depends entirely on how much (or how little) the subscriber actually uses them.

By contrast, right now the only benefit of a Jet membership is cheap prices. That may be the best benefit possible for shoppers, of course, but many Prime subscribers have gotten used to enjoying the extras that come along with membership. They’ll find the prospect of swapping Prime for Jet particularly difficult, and arguably not worth the tradeoff.

Read next: Everything You Need To Know About Amazon’s New Rival Jet.com

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com