Index Mutual Funds

by L

How Many Mutual Funds Routinely Rout the Market? Zero

Do any Totebaggers use active managers? If so, why? If not, why not?

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162 thoughts on “Index Mutual Funds

  1. I think this is an interesting theory:

    Basically, in a world where Vanguard owns a controlling stake in corporate America, it’s not in Vanguard’s interest to push Delta into a price war with American. It’s in Vanguard’s best interest to allow an comfortable oligopoly to develop with the goal of milking the public.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2015/04/mutual_funds_make_air_travel_more_expensive_institutional_investors_reduce.html

  2. I have an active manager because I inherited him from my mother. He and I went to the same high school at the same time (although I did not know him then – 700 kids per year). He did very well by Mom and really helped me to manage her affairs even before I had formal trusteeship. I am grandmothered into a high service minimal fee plateau and as long as the fourth acquirer of his former regional brokerage firm lets him keep his little office and title and client book, I’ll stay with him. What he does is provide me and his other clients (mostly retirees) with a portfolio of individual stocks equivalent to a defacto managed fund focused on dividend growth. I also get a side account for my muni bonds and some other holdings. No transaction fees on equities, transfers, etc. There is no question that if the market tanked so that I had minimal embedded cap gains I could fire him, sell everything and roll it into an appropriate index fund with a somewhat higher return as the result of no fees. But this portfolio throws off lots of qualified (favorable tax rate) dividends that are not automatically reinvested, I can control the timing of cap gains by expressing my needs to him, I take care of charitable giving in a tax advantaged manner, I don’t have to follow individual stocks, and most importantly, the steady income flow means that I am not required to go through a buy sell decision every time I need to make a tax payment or fix the house or buy a new car. If it ain’t broke is my mantra. My finance daughter thinks it is my business, but she would push me to make a change if I were not still able to take max tax advantage of the flexibility in the situation.

  3. Last week we talked for 45 minutes to a Vanguard CFP. He’s supposed to give us an overview of our options. I’ll let you know what he suggests, just for giggles.

  4. That’s interesting, Rhett.

    RMS – What did you think of the meeting? I recently figured out from reading Vanguard’s webpages that if I call and point out to them our different accounts, including 401(k)s invested in Vanguard funds, we can qualify for extra special treatment.

  5. Milo,

    I don’t think the theory is correct though. If such a thing were to come to pass, either a new airline would crop up or some private equity firm would take one of the airlines private and crush the competition.

  6. Well, maybe. I’m skeptical when the so-called “smoking gun” evidence of this alleged collusion relies on airline ticket pricing. There’s just so much smoke and mirrors in that industry that I don’t think the data is necessarily so reliable. If he could find evidence of monopolistic price fixing on something like milk or gasoline or chocolate bars, I’d be more likely to believe it.

  7. You know, it’s not necessarily fair to say active managers are not worth it. And I don’t think it’s fair to look for only funds that beat the market every year. That’s like saying the Giants haven’t been a very good baseball team recently because they have only won the World Series in 3 of the past 5 years.

    Especially for those who can outperform the market over long stretches. Won’t beat the market every year, but if over 10 years a fund/manager delivers a better return than the market/ benchmark after fees, then they have earned their keep. TRowePrice Growth (PRGFX) is an example that has outperformed the S&P 500 by approx. 30pts after fees since 3/2005. There are other examples…probably Fidelity’s Low Priced Stock has done well by that measure also, but I didn’t look.

    The same thing can be said for holding good individual stocks for a long time…if the company makes it your return can be excellent, especially with dividends. (See articles about e.g. WalMart, McDonalds, GE, P&G, Altria, ExxonMobil, Intel, etc). But at some point you will reach diminishing returns and clearly YOU HAVE TO PICK SOME WINNERS.

    Which kind of lead to why we use a mix of index funds and managed funds and have some individual stocks.
    – (~13% of investments, excluding our house) DW 401k offers only managed funds. Not bad funds, and probably more costly than I could find elsewhere (e.g. my 403b) but this is not a big concern.
    – (~13%) DW rollover IRA. 40% index funds, 20% bond funds (short/intermediate), 40% actively managed (see above for an example)
    – (~28%) my rollover IRA is a combination of about 2/3 index funds, 1/4 actively managed sector funds (biotech, technology, India), the rest is my “flyers”…stuff I read about and think would be interesting plays, etc.
    – (~13%) my 403b. 80% index funds, mostly stocks. 20% actively managed international fund…really the only one to choose from. Fortunately it has done well, justifying the fee above index fund level
    – (~28%) taxable acct. 1/3 index funds, 1/2 in a couple of common stocks that pay good dividends, the rest in an actively managed global stock fund
    – the rest is in a profit sharing acct DW has with her employer. “free money” that the employer contributed a long time ago and ceased contributing to. I figure it’s in some kinds of managed funds about 50/50 stocks/bonds.

  8. but if over 10 years a fund/manager delivers a better return than the market/ benchmark after fees, then they have earned their keep.

    The problem is no one can do the net of fees. And the few that can are running hedge funds with a min. $x million buy in.

  9. “See articles about e.g. WalMart, McDonalds, GE, P&G, Altria, ExxonMobil, Intel, etc”

    These are many of Josh Kennon’s favorites.

  10. I think Meme hits on the “Dave Ramsey*” value of a broker. You might earn the highest returns with the lowest fees with a set of investments that result in you eating cat food because you’re afraid to sell anything. A good broker might set you up with single premium fixed annuities, dividend paying stocks, muni and corporate bonds, etc. that result in a solid stream of income that you’re happy to spend.

    * Things that make sense mathematically often don’t make sense in terms of human nature.

  11. We don’t use an active mgr, other than DH. :) Everything is at Schwab, other than my company 401k. Mixture of indiv stocks and index funds.

    The thing that kills me is when a client with $1 or $2M investable is at one of the small-time managers with 1.1% fees and only large-cap US equities. Or worse, at my first firm when (in the early 00s) one client had had a portfolio of 90% cash for over a year. She was not happy.

  12. “The problem is no one can do the net of fees.”

    Rhett – see my example. There are others:
    Fidelity Select Biotech, Fidelity OTC Portfolio, Vanguard Capital Opportunity, TRPrice Blue Chip Growth

  13. Special note to MM, and I know you generally ignore these financial discussions:

    I met with our TIAACREF rep last week. If as you said before your $$ is in their Stock fund, you are just fine. Keep on keeping on.

  14. Thanks for the nudge, folks. The only stuff I manage actively myself is my rollover IRA from past short term jobs plus contributions these last few years before I become ineligible. It is all in non tax advantaged investments, mostly BBB corporate bonds. Had some idle cash – bought a few more today.

  15. Fred,

    The biotech index has returned 18.52% over the past 10 years, Fidelity Select Biotech 20.24%. Adjusting for the fees and it’s almost a wash. Keeping in mind past performance is no guarantee and you’d have to have had a premonition 10 years ago to go with Fidelity Select Biotech vs. the 99% of other biotech funds that failed to beat their index and it doesn’t seem like a practical option.

  16. Rhett is absolutely right about the psychological need for most people to set up a formal income stream in retirement, and sometimes a financial advisor is needed, although a good fee only planner is likely better. That is what I mean when I mention cash flow planning. I am pretty sophisticated about all this, and even I was looking at the five year cash plan and thinking, well, this summer’s vacation is the last big ticket adventurous one we can manage during DH’s window of activity, better stick to small and more passive stuff since I need to plan for a new car in 2016-2017, just when some of my current streams run dry. That is BS – I can sell off shares to fund both.

  17. I define actively managed as paying an investment adviser/firm not an actively managed mutual fund. Schwab wanted me to use their version of the former and I declined as I can pick my own mutual funds and asset allocation so I am not willing to pay for it. However – may parents use an adviser from a big bank’s trust department. The relationship evolved through my father being a co-trustee on some large trust accounts so they were willing to handle my parent’s individual accounts as well at the preferred rate given the size of the trusts. My father was perfectly capable of handling his own finances at the time. But he really isn’t anymore, and they trust this adviser and from what I have discussed with them, I do too. It is much better for the broad family dynamics that I don’t need to step in and help my father as his cognitive abilities decline. No one else in the immediate family has the skill set or desire to handle it or even check up on me or the adviser, yet certain in-laws are, shall we say, certain that “everyone” is always out to take more than their fair share. Sigh. When my father dies, I will have to step up and help my mother interface with the adviser – ie translate, but I will worry about that then.

  18. I would also add that if you’re someone who tends to panic and sell at the wrong time, the value of someone who can talk you down from the ledge is huge as well.

  19. I had a portfolio which was invested in a bunch of funds. I sold all that and went with index funds in certain percentages. I am now my own portfolio manager.
    When we get to retirement I want to hire a Meme clone who will advise us properly.

  20. Rhett – hence my comment, above, YOU HAVE TO PICK SOME WINNERS.

    Adjusted for (current) fees of 0.75% for FBIOX vs the index, investors did better by 1pt/year, on average. That’s good enough for me to say it’s worthwhile to do it.

    Taking another approach, it all comes down to weighting/diversification. FBIOX beat the S&P by a lot, and with higher risk/volatility.

    So if your retirement planning has an assumption of earning say 7% a year till you are 65 with a general mix of stock and bond index funds, putting some of your nestegg in some concentrated sectors (biotech, regular old tech, specific country/region funds) could mean you’ve covered your nut sooner, much sooner, even if your chosen funds lag their specific indicies because they still beat the S&P by a wide margin.

  21. Rhett – hence my comment, above, YOU HAVE TO PICK SOME WINNERS.

    One could say the same about lottery numbers. The question is how does one do that ahead of time?

  22. FBIOX beat the S&P by a lot, and with higher risk/volatility.

    But, that’s apples an oranges. FIBOX doesn’t compete against the S&P 500 Index it competes with the NASDAQ Biotech Index.

  23. We have DH’s 401K in mutual funds because that’s what was offered when he started it They’ve since added Vanguard Funds to the mix but we haven’t switched it over yet just due to laziness. Our taxable account is in individual stocks and my retirement fund from an old job is in mutual funds (TIAA-CREF).

    Milo – I like the Josh Kennon blog.

  24. @Rhett’s article — umm, wow. Logical leaps, anyone? I really don’t get how this is supposed to be worse with MFs than with individual ownership — individual owners have an “interest” in keeping prices low, but (largely) neither the knowledge nor the clout to stop it. It’s as if the pre-MF era was one of perfect shareholder democracy, with all of these individual owners keeping the fatcats like Bogle in check, and — I’m sorry, I can’t even finish this sentence with a straight face.

    OT, I used to have a lot in “managed” funds, because I started investing before the rise of index funds, but most of those were with T. Rowe Price and TIAA-Cref, in fairly regular funds (the funds that everyone used to use as their core funds before index funds), with some specialties (international, tech). Now it’s the same thing, different title — mostly Vanguard total stock market index with our own investments; 401(k)s through generic low-cost funds offered in our plans. College funds are also in our local 529s (Price again) and in Vanguard index. I suspect we are overweighted in international (I have @40% total going to two international funds, because I’m a believer and because DH tends to be more US-based) and light on bonds (I own zero bonds or “balanced” funds; DH has one balanced fund). We probably should buy some, but I haven’t been able to force myself to for the past decade, because it just felt like interest rates had to go up. Only been wrong for 10+ years now. . . .

    We do keep a few flyers that are just for fun. I like value investing, DH likes growth, so I have my extra “fun” money in a value guy who charges a lot, but whose style I like; I’m pretty sure DH has something similar with his former 401(k) that is now at Schwab.

    We will probably look into an advisor when we get to Meme’s circumstances and have to think about income streams, estates, tax consequences, etc. But I doubt I will ever actually hand over my money to someone else — too much Madoff-type worry there (I suspect that constantly doublechecking the checks and balances would more than offset the “worry-free” convenience that Meme manages). I’d rather pay for advice, with periodic checkups, and do it myself.

  25. I really don’t get how this is supposed to be worse with MFs than with individual ownership

    Think of Carl Ichan buying up 60 million shares of APPL and forcing Tim Cook to pay out a dividend vs. Vanguard that really has no opinion on that and simply votes its shares with management.

  26. “FIBOX doesn’t compete against the S&P 500 Index”…yeah it does in the sense that including it (and its different return over time) will shorten or lengthen the time you need to save enough to retire. i.e., like I wrote before, on an absolute scale like a goal of earning 7% a year till you’re 65 so you have enough to hang ’em up, FBIOX could, I say could get you there sooner. Now that may not be a suitable investment for many because of its risk/reward profile and demonstrated by the standard deviation of return.

    In our portfolio, I need to earn a bit under 8%/yr to meet our retirement timing goal. If I can goose that to 9% retirement can be a year sooner. If I am risk-seeking enough I’ll view FBIOX as competition with that S&P index fund for my investment dollar.

  27. @Rhett — But Carl Ichan can *still* buy 60 million shares and force whatever he wants. And Vanguard has every incentive to sell those shares to him, because he can just offer a sweetener to make it worth Vanguard’s while (since the whole argument is based on profit motive vs. general evility, one has to assume that one profit source is as good as another). Just like he would have in the Good Old Days(TM) to convince all those individual owners to sell him the requisite amount.

  28. And Vanguard has every incentive to sell those shares to him,

    Vanguard only sells to match the index or to meet redemption. That’s sort of the point of the article.

  29. But, I think you’re right. If index funds get too big then the Carl Ichans of the world will swoop in to snag that value.

  30. a little under 10 years.
    Some of me wants to get out of dodge ASAP, another part of me is like Rhett…can work forever. The pay is good enough, stress level low enough, commute very tolerable, most of the year high flexibility for taking time off.

  31. Another comment about being retired. If you have hit your number, whatever that it, the idea for the Millionaire Next Door types is to preserve principal, or perhaps inflation adjusted principal. So Fred’s 7-8% growth in today’s inflation environment (actual inflation is admittedly higher than the very low index) is huge. I am content with 4% overall in the untouched tax favored accounts, which are heavily fixed income, and in the after tax mostly equity accounts I have a ten year target growth of 2% per year after all withdrawals – living expense, contributions, kid house down payments, etc. The base number for the target was set in about 2010, so I simply try to exceed the arbitrary but increasing target each year end. And I can always sell some collectibles, or go to the multiplex for the opera instead of Manhattan to fund vacations if the regular cash stash gets used for necessary capital improvements or autos.

  32. @winemama – I agree!

    I “inherited” an active manager from my grandparents. He did a good job for them, so I’m happy with that for now until I have more time to handle it myself, although I’d probably just put everything in index funds and leave it alone. My cousin manages accounts for some of my family members, but I think I’d feel funny with him knowing how much (or how little!) money I have. Definitely prefer having an outside opinion, especially when it comes to getting the right mix of investments for my age, family needs, and retirement plans.

  33. I am trying to look at my investments with an additional eye toward underlying p/e, and I think this is particularly relevant for anyone who’s trying to hit a specific retirement “number.” If you’re like MMM and you just need to hit $1M before you can put your feet up for good, there’s a big difference bw $1M at P/E 12 and $1M at P/E 30. I’m not saying you can effectively time the market, but it’s a big consideration in terms of how much you actually have.

    It also helps me on market days like today, and I tend to think of our investments as providing an annual income not at 8% of current price, but whatever the current balance is divided by the earnings ratio.

  34. “Some of me wants to get out of dodge ASAP, another part of me is like Rhett…can work forever. ”

    I’ve been told that once you are both eligible to retire and have the finances in place to retire, work becomes more enjoyable.

  35. “Definitely prefer having an outside opinion”

    As self-directed, and self-confident, as I am, I do still have a day job that precludes me from doing as much work as would be necessary to be fully professional in this arena. So I am availing myself of the advice and counsel at no additional out of pocket cost from a guy who happens to work for TIAA-Cref. We met last week and he’s working up a recommendation for me. My time for a followup meeting is limited now, so we’ll probably sit down again in the middle of next month and go over what he’s come up with.

    I know he/the firm want to capture more of our assets than just the employer-based retirement account which is one reason they’re doing this overall portfolio analysis at zero outlay for me.

  36. Fred, how do you pick the winners? If it was so easy, everyone would be investing in the same funds.

  37. Recalling our prior discussion of hight frequency trading, Virtu financial shares are now traded. This company buys and sells shares rapidly. It has had only one losing day of trading in years. If you really think high frequency trading is skimming profits away from the index funds of the world, you could just buy stock as a hedge. Come to think of it, I assume the big indexes probably bought it for this reason.

  38. “This isn’t a very “fun” friday topic ;)”
    Winemama, I agree. So here is something that I find more interesting. On my work travels I occasionally pass a beautiful estate. Today as I was driving by, I noticed they were having an open house prior to the auction later on this afternoon. Of course I had to stop and go inside. Check out the bathroom in the third picture. http://www.roanoke.com/photo/bath-alum-springs-estate/collection_15bc7e13-a2e2-544a-badf-9675cd2be7eb.html. The first picture is not a good picture of the house. Check out the real estate listing for a better view http://www.woltz.com/839/index.htm. Wonder how much it will sell for. Not many people there when I stopped by.

  39. Sheep Farmer,

    That place is scary. I’d lay awake at night worried that we’d be the victim of some kind of “In Cold Blood” like scenario. The neighbors wouldn’t even be able to hear you scream. Shudder.

  40. Sheep Farmer – I would scream in the middle of the night if I stopped by that sink bleary eyed by moon or night light to wash my hands. SNAKES!!!

  41. Sheep Farmer – That has a future as a high-end bed and breakfast/spa/restaurant. Possibly available for small wedding receptions, but definitely bachelorette and babymoon weekends. It needs an outdoor pool and some horses.

  42. Is that carpet in the bathroom?

    Was on vacation and then sick and then busy catching up. I am now happy to re-join you all again.

    Not sure I am a cruise person, but the time away with just DH was lovely, restful and fun.

  43. Mémé makes a good point about the need to draw funds in retirement. Additionally, the ability to manage one’s own finances typically begins to slip with age at some point. Both of these point to the benefit of some level of external management.

    OTOH, don’t forget about other income streams you will have in retirement.

    20 years or so ago, in planning for retirement, I wasn’t counting on social security being around when I retire. But it’s still around, and retirement is a lot closer, so I took a look at projected benefits for DW and me.

    If we both hold off on collecting our own benefits until we’re 70, we’re projected to be collecting about 70k/yr. Throw in a small annuity earned at a previous job, and contribution-based annuities from our current jobs, factor in a fully paid off mortgage, and we’ll have enough income to support our current level of spending, less current spending on kids.

    OTTH (on the third hand), we will need to start drawing down our non-Roth IRAs (assuming we haven’t converted them to Roth) and 401ks (same assumption), so we may need some management there, although we could also just put the money into lifecycle funds.

  44. I missed today’s topic because I was in meetings all day. I really like index funds because I’m frugal, BUT I will have a personal financial crisis if everyone jumps into low cost funds.

    I’ve never worked on the equity side of the business. Same for DH. We believe it is more challenging to only use index funds for the fixed income side of your portfolio. I don’t think it is necessary to be in a really high load fund, but there can be value to paying more for certain types of securities.

    I have some friends that are really smart, but they just can’t manage their money. They are willing to pay to have someone provide this service or advice because it will actually make them money in the long run.

  45. Lousie,

    Oh, yes! I also love this, “Elbert Cambata of Staunton, Va., and Lugano Switzerland.” That’s very classy. I want mine to read Rhett Butler of Boston, St. Barths and Gstaad.

  46. DD – I have picked some winners, and I have picked some losers. If I were truly prescient I would have been smart enough to put all my $$ since I began working 30 yrs ago into an S&P500 index fund, then
    – sold it all in early 2000.
    – went back all in in in July 2002
    – sold all again in July 2007
    – dived in again Early 2009
    – still be in there now!

  47. I would settle for having bought Netflix at its IPO. It’s very rare that I’m an early adopter, but my brother gave me a Netflix gift card as a birthday present when they first opened up shop, and I loved it from the beginning. My account has been uninterrupted since.

    If I had realized confidently at the time that other people would love it as much as I did, and they would successfully branch out into streaming services, and then original content, I would be quite well-to-do right now.

  48. The great thing about Netflix is that they keep re-inventing so that they stay relevant. I went to a training class abut ten years ago and the case study was to compare Best Buy and Kodak. Kodak was the loser example, and Best Buy was the winner. I don’t think the professor realized how quickly Best Buy would run into trouble because of competition from so many different directions.

  49. Fred, that’s the point. There’s now way to know which funds are going to be the lucky few that actually beat the market.

  50. That place in Virginia will be “sold to the highest bidder over $4MM”? And you can’t even get a shanty in Palo Alto for that. Jeez.

  51. L,

    It would be a fun project if you had the money. But, it was ruined when they sold off (I assume) all the land. Now you have a giant mansion in the middle of a working class neighborhood.

  52. Rhett-That is what I love about that place. All that open space and no neighbors.
    Meme-Not too crazy about the sink either. The bathrooms were hideous. One of the other bathrooms had a red bathtub.
    Milo and Winemama, If I could afford a place like that then I could afford not to work. No b&b for me. I would love to sit on that upper porch with a cold drink and just enjoy the view. The estate is located about 20 minutes from the Homestead. I could see them buying it especially since I don’t think that the Homestead has an airstrip and I am sure a lot of their guests would prefer to just fly in.

  53. Or maybe not… The old picture seems to show it not in the midst of some vast estate. What was Mr. Wheeler thinking?

  54. Sheep Farmer – we’re making an effort to maintain a friendship with some former neighbors who gave up defense contractor work for positions at UVA. They moved to Crozet, and we visited recently. That’s a beautiful area if ever there was one, with the Blue Ridge Mountains all around. It crossed my mind when we were there that we were pretty close to your neck of the woods.

  55. We were watching part 2 of Wolf Hall last night, and DH commented that he thought it was moving really slowly. We talked about that for awhile and eventually it came out that he was conflating Thomas and Oliver Cromwell. So if you’re waiting for Cromwell to dissolve Parliament and become Lord Protector, then yeah, Wolf Hall moves really slowly.

  56. Sorry to have missed the interesting discussions the last few days–the due date is approaching rapidly so I’ve been really focused on getting everything lined up for my leave. RMS, your Wolf Hall commentary made me laugh–I can see how that would be a disappointment!

  57. Rhett – what’s the mattress that you’re in love with now?

    We spent a couple hours in a Sleep Number store, and we’re both impressed. Just not sure if we should sample some more first.

    Good luck, June!

  58. Thanks, Milo! My parents have a Sleep Number mattress and LOVE it. They also have one on their guest bed and my husband and I just hate it. We feel like it deflates over time and ends up feeling like a glorified air mattress. But I think that may be because we sleep on a pillow-top mattress at home and to get a similar feel on the Sleep Number, you have to turn the number way down, which also makes it much less supportive–we might like it more if it was a pillow-top version (I assume they make those).

  59. Milo – We stayed at an inn with a sleep number mattress and hated it. They definitely deflated over time, and I had it on a very firm setting. We have a basic old Tempurpedic on a wooden platform (no foundation) and love it, but I have never slept on anything but foam for 40 years, and my son has a deluxe newer version with all the bells and whistles. The newer ones come with pillow top to make it feel more like a non foam mattress or other modifications to make it cooler in summer. I believe that the store brand memory foam versions from a decent furniture store (not the shrink wrapped stuff from China at big box stores) are also very good.

  60. On topic, I’m a big fan of index funds, as I hate spending time managing investments. Index funds let me “set it and forget it”. Our saving skills have mattered more than our investment skills in the build up of our portfolio.

  61. Rhett – what’s the mattress that you’re in love with now?

    We went with the furniture store brand (Jordan’s) memory foam.

  62. Thanks for the comments on the sleep number bed – we always seem to be looking for a new mattress, and that was one on the list. DD sleeps on a tempurpedic and likes it, but DH worries that he will get too hot (that was a complaint he had read about). Something about it not breathing?

  63. @Milo — ditto on Tempurpedic, the only thing DH and I were able to agree on (I like very soft, he likes so firm it leaves a freaking bruise on my hip).

  64. Hmm, now I’m more suspicious of Sleep Number. We also went to a traditional mattress store and liked some of the fancy pillow tops. We have a pillow top now and like it, but dw thinks it’s getting worn out.

    We liked the Serta Hybrid pillow top, “I-series,” I think.

  65. Ironically, this is the night I promised the kids to camp in the driveway with them. It’s a big letdown after sampling 40 top mattresses.

    Rocky – #2 watched the video with me and was sadly asking “what happened to her? How did she get that way?”

  66. Today, after lunch at a restaurant, DS told me he was full, so could I save his half cookie for him. I dutifully wrapped up the half…..I had to get rid of it later as the chocolate chips were turning gooey in the heat. All the while, I thought of the infamous Totebag half cookie.

  67. My exciting weekend: tomorrow the Lilly Pulitzer line becomes available at Target, so I am online shopping with my daughter at midnight, and we will be lined up at the door at 8am.

  68. The neighbor kid just put a fundraiser flyer in the box. The high school is selling mattresses.

  69. Good luck, MBT! I’ve heard things can get crazy when they release these collaborations–I’ve never braved it myself. You’ll have to report back!

  70. MBT – I happened to go to Target when they released the Missoni collection. I had no idea why there were so many people at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. I hope both of you are ready to do battle tomorrow because the good stuff was gone by 8.15.

  71. Louise, that’s what I heard. We’ll see how it goes. She wants to get some stuff for her next apartment and some clothes. We’ll try online first then hit the store at 8 and see how we do. The prices are good, so hopefully we’re able to get something.

  72. Can you drive to a Target in a neighborhood where Lily isn’t popular? For example, there are several Targets near me where I know Lily would sell out by 8:15, but I can think of two other stores if I drive in a different direction where it will sit for days. This happened when they partnered with Neiman Marcus on some items.

  73. Lauren, we had that same thought. But now it’s 1am, and they haven’t opened up the online shopping yet (although she was able to order some plates around 11 due to what must have been an error on the site). So the new plan may be to stay up a little longer, buy what we can then sleep in. I’m too old for this.

  74. “The high school is selling mattresses.”

    I wonder if they got the idea from Glee. I’d never heard of that as a fundraiser prior to that.

  75. “I promised the kids to camp in the driveway with them.”

    Ouch. I hope you have a cot, or at least a good camp mattress.

    Why the driveway, and not the backyard?

    In my day, the driveway would not have been an option. I did not have a hammer drill (and neither did my dad) to facilitate pounding in the tent pegs.

  76. OK, just realized that Milo was camping in the driveway because that’s where he parked the pop up trailer.

    Can’t you put a Sleep Number (or Tempurpedic) in the trailer?

  77. Finn – technically we’re parked in a little gravel nook off the driveway that is carved into the woods for this purpose. Campers are not HOA-compliant, I’m sure, but this is hidden well enough. In some ways, camping here is better than the real thing. We have more privacy and solitude than a typical campground, I built a fire ring from gathered rocks, access to a full kitchen and clean bathrooms, and strong Wi-fi :). I have a memory foam mattress topper, and actually it’s pretty good. An actual mattress wouldn’t fit when everything is folded up.

    Rhett – counterpoints to the Slate article:

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-16/should-mutual-funds-be-illegal-

    I think he does a good job refuting the Slate piece.

    I can’t imagine anyone buying mattress to support a fundraiser. Are you just buying a voucher to redeem at the local store after you’ve determined your favorite?

  78. Oof, MBT–just read an article which said the collection didn’t go live until 3 a.m. and that the site crashed almost immediately afterward. Sounds rough!

    I also have never heard of schools selling mattresses for a fundraiser–do they just sell one type or is there a whole selection?

  79. I’m back from Target–I was in line 45 minutes early, number 30 in line, and by the time I got in the store many shelves and racks were stripped clean. I told DH that the Hunger Games were a kinder gentler experience. Everything was gone within 5 minutes.

  80. I tried online this morning and all the “garden gone madpieces were gone leaving the non distinctive plain tops.
    Will have to add to the Lily envy by wearing my Lily look alike green leaves top and prancing about town.

  81. So I had read that Target would open the LiIly stuff for online shopping between midnight and 2, so I kept refreshing until 2:09am my time, when I was finally able to start putting a couple of things in my cart (my daughter had fallen asleep by this time). I was able to get the top 4 things on her list in the cart, but then couldn’t check-out. The shopping cart was inaccessible – it just kept spinning the little timer thing. Then the site started crashing repeatedly, would come back up but the cart would still be inaccessible, then the whole site would crash again. I finally admitted defeat and went to bed around 3:15. I was too tired to go shop at 7, so my daughter went up there around 9. She cleaned them out of everything that was left, which happened to be the cocktail glasses she wanted for her apartment, and my first choice dress in my size, and the plates we managed to order online have shipped. I already see things that were $30 at the store on ebay for $160. I hope no one buys them. Seeing what a disaster the online experience was, I don’t know that I’d bother to try to do this again.

  82. It certainly wasn’t a disaster for Target. Huge advertising bonanza via social media. Initial bunch of goods sold out immediately. I would never be aware of the event (Lilly Pulitzer not my style) and here I am talking about it. Presumably they expected the crush and have more tranches of goods for sale coming in every few weeks to stoke demand. It is similar to people lining up for a new gadget or hard to find toy. When event tickets go on online sale (without a premium code or special back door) at exactly x:00 am, the site usually crashes or the checkout hangs up indefinitely. That is not necessarily considered a bug, but a demand enhancing feature. I am glad your DD got most of what both of you wanted.

  83. Meme–no they don’t restock. It’s a one time thing–all of the stock was out this morning, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. And I didn’t see anyone buying anything other than the Lilly, so it’s not like they got any extra business from it.

  84. Meme – good point – definitely not a disaster for Target. And BL, even though there’s not much incremental sales, I think these things are one of the primary ways Target differentiates itself from Walmart. They position themselves in shoppers’ minds as being more upscale than Walmart, although the two chains serve essentially the same purpose. You can see the difference in the customer base in my area.

  85. My guess is that one of the reason for events like this is to get more people into their stores and their website, in the hopes that they will return for other stuff. Kinda like loss leaders.

  86. Going back to my sole anecdatum, the Glee episode, there was a pile of mattresses stacked up in the chorus room.

  87. You can see the difference in the customer base in my area.

    I agree–that’s why I shop at Walmart. Target is for special occasions.

  88. Milo, you’re reminding me of my brother. “I shop at Goodwill. Walmart is a little too high end for me.”

  89. I find that Amazon is increasingly competing in the Target clothes space for girls and women. The category is Amazon fashion. I happened to buy DD a few clothes, they sent me a 20% coupon.

  90. I prefer Target, in part due to the weirdness of some of my fellow shoppers at Walmart, but also because I prefer the layout of the store and the selection of personal care products at Target. Target always has fun new things to try. But our Walmart is a Super Walmart, and the convenience of being able to get more of the things I need in one trip brings me in. I’m primarily driven by an overwhelming need to be efficient in running errands.

  91. MBT – I recall Target’s collaboration with Michael Graves. That is when I wanted to buy more and more housewares. I was probably the age your daughter is now and setting up our early apartments. I don’t think any of the other collaborations made an impression on me from a design standpoint.

  92. it’s not like they got any extra business from it.

    They don’t need to get extra business out of it. They made a killing selling the Pulitzer stuff.

  93. Our Walmart (a Super-Walmart) has a good fishing/hunting/camping selection including licenses and has a garden department with plants outdoors and fertilizer, hoses, etc. indoors. It also has a selection of kids’ bikes pretty much year round and a fabric/craft section. Our Target has a very limited garden section with more decorative garden items for a brief time. I assumed the home economics/bikes/hunting/fishing section came from Walmart’s rural history, and that Target focuses more on interior design.

    Do others have this split?

    Personal care, cleaning/laundry supplies, baby care/diapers and electronics aren’t noticeably different to me.

  94. WCE – I agree – I see the same split. In my suburban Walmart, the hunting section is smaller than what I’ve seen in other places I’ve lived, but they do have an extensive garden section, and a fabric/sewing section. Our Target does not have that, and as Louise mentioned, they do have a more extensive home goods area. Our Target has better clothes, and has begun carrying more furniture accent pieces that are pretty cute.

    Today is the 20th anniversary of the OKC bombing. I had just left OKC a couple of years before that, but still lived in Oklahoma, and many of my friends are still there. My Facebook feed is full of a lot of emotional videos and remembrances. It was quite an emotional day.

  95. We have one Walmart and several Targets. I don’t find the Walmart prices to be cheaper than Target on any item that is a consumer product. It happens to be across the street from Target and a major supermarket. I can buy most of the groceries for less in the supermarket. The clothing seems to be cheaper in Walmart, but it isn’t as fashionable as Target.

    I find it VERY easy to return anything in Target. The lines in Walmart are really long. The whole shopping experience just feels different.

  96. The only clothing shopping I’ve done recently was maternity, and Walmart’s maternity clothing (contained entirely on the end of one aisle!) felt like a Halloween costume- it was below even my low standards. Target didn’t have my size in nursing bras and so I ordered from Walmart online. I share Lauren’s dislike of the lines for order pickup/customer service at Walmart.

    I don’t normally buy clothes at Walmart or Target.

  97. I find it VERY easy to return anything in Target. The lines in Walmart are really long. The whole shopping experience just feels different.

    The service at target is so much better than Walmart.

  98. I buy a decent amount of kid clothes from Target. That is the main reason for my returns. I’ll buy stuff that she has to try on at home, or she doesn’t like a color etc.

    Target has verycurrent designs for kids. My daughter is really into fashion and she likes a brand called so Nikki. She sees all of this stuff on Instagram. Some of the stuff is cute, but it is expensive for camp because everything gets ruined in sleepaway camp laundry. I already spotted some shorts in Target this week that are similar to so Nikki.

    I’m redecorating her room, and Target has some really cute stuff for tween rooms.

  99. Yeah, Walmart is about the only place left where “department store” means “has a fabric section.”

  100. Lauren, I may end up checking out Target for my daughter someday. Your comment makes sense. It sounds more time-consuming than my current approach, buying a reasonable number of durable fleece pants in appropriate sizes for three boys, divided among black, navy, dark gray and light gray, and waiting until they get a hole.

  101. WCE, you can get away with that approach for your daughter for several more years.

    I have a classic NYC wardrobe; lots of black, gray and navy clothes. My daughter is the opposite. She loves bright colors and she follows fashion.
    I have a Target card so it is an additional 5% off plus 120 days for any return.

  102. I just bought a Casper mattress, and am super-excited to see how it works out. It is one of a few new direct-to-consumer mattress (the others that I am aware of being Leesa, Tuft & Needle, Yogabed). I was totally sold by their website (which means that their product is awesome, or I am a sucker for a certain kind of marketing). Anyway, I will report back in a few days.

  103. I’m the above anon, but wordpress keeps not posting my longer comments that I keep writing – perhaps because my enthusiasm seemed over the top, or because it alluded to the bounce in the above mentioned mattress…

  104. @Lauren – check out Amazon for cheaper girls clothes. The styles look fashion forward but the prices are not designer level.

  105. MBT – wow, I had no idea that this was the anniversary of the OK City bombing. I’m glad you mentioned it. I was spending a lot of time in West Texas, 20 years ago, and remember living and breathing the coverage from that terrible event. I remember that being the first time I realized that people hopped on planes and traveled to sites like that, to help. All of those first responders, and quite a few with search/rescue dogs, were flying in every day. Those stories were very moving. Since then, we’ve had similar responses in NYC and NOLA but I wonder if OK City started that sort of response, or if it was the first time there’d been widespread TV coverage of it, or if it was merely the first time I had paid such close attention.

  106. As the mother of boys, I find these discussions on fashion interesting. In our house, the uniform is jeans, khaki shorts, and t-shirts. Shoes are the only things my kids really care about, fashion-wise.

    I shop at Target because it’s 20-25 minutes closer that the nearest Walmart. I find that some of the food is reasonably priced, so I stop there mid-week to stock up on bread, eggs, milk, etc. The only clothes I buy there are socks and underwear for the kids and DH.

  107. I received a number of packages late last week. I put away all the items I received, collapsed the boxes and threw the packing into our big recycle bin. I recall placing one item wrapped in tissue in my closet (to keep it “safe”). When I went to look – the item was not there. So, I spent time looking through our recycle bin multiple times to see if I had thrown it out. No luck so, far. Grrrrrr.

  108. I love the collaborations Target does. The only ones I have been able to buy were a couple tops from the Phillip Lim collection. I don’t stay up all night to shop online or attempt the stores first thing in the morning.

  109. The few times I have gone to Walmart, I have left empty handed because they would always be out of stock on whatever it was I needed. The store is horrible – merchandise strewn about the floor, entire categories out of stock, dumpy ugly clothing. I prefer Target marginally, but even that store has issues with messy, heaped about merchandise. I think our “value” stores are simply overwhelmed with too many shoppers and too few employees. I get kids clothes from Target online and from Lands End. I used to shop online at CWD Kids when the boys were smaller. However, while their boys clothes are really cute, their girls clothes are not good – really cheap looking.

    Lands End has recently introduced more gender neutral clothes for girls, and I really appreciate it. My DD now has a bunch of their sweatshirts – one in purple with rockets, another in light blue with the galaxy, and another with dinorsaurs. The shirts are cut more for girls, but avoid being girly. My DD particularly loves the ones that are glow in the dark. Here is an example
    http://www.landsend.com/products/girls-short-sleeve-uneven-hem-raglan-space-graphic-t-shirt/id_283178

  110. I think our “value” stores are simply overwhelmed with too many shoppers and too few employees.

    I’m thinking it’s a location issue. Our Target is always very well organized and well-stocked. I can’t say the same for Walmart.

  111. Both are super-organized and neat IME. In fact, it’s far easier to find specific items in Target and Walmart than it is at Wegman’s, where even the employees, who are trying to be helpful, often have no idea about their latest weekly marketing experiment in product display arrangement. They move stuff CONSTANTLY–it’s maddening.

  112. Yes, I am sure it is locational. Our supermarkets are bad too. Too little space and too many shoppers.

    I have given up completely on Kohls. Everything I have bought there in the last 2 years has fallen apart rapidly. The kicker was when DH bought a pair of business casual style pants, and after one washing (on cold), they shrank and the hem came out.

  113. When I lived in the Northeast – both Target and Walmart were as Mooshi described. However, when I moved here, both stores are neat and clean, customers tend not to upset the shelves and strew clothing over the floor. DH will not enter a Walmart because he of his previous negative experiences even though that is not the case where we are now.

  114. I love Target for clothes. I find Walmart to be poor quality for clothing, but will buy DS stuff there at times, he outgrows stuff fast anyway

  115. Price Chopper is more upstate, like Albany region. We had them in central MA too. I don’t think I have seen them down here

  116. To the best of my recollection I have never been in a Walmart. I googled the local locations and there are quite a few regular stores in modest or below communities 25 min drive from me – the nearest superstores are about 50 min from me. The one local Kmart I patronized (once) was similar to Mooshi’s description. The Targets are located in modest and up locations, nothing really fancy but closer to well off neighborhoods. I tried one out, primarily for household items, but didn’t find it worth the trip. Before Amazon swallowed the retail market, I used Bed n Bath, Home Depot, and a giant Crate n Barrel for errands. I can see how Target might be useful for kid shopping. It is probably just a matter of life stage – when I was young and broke I made a lot of the kids’ clothes or shopped at Woolworth’s or similar stores accessible by public transit.

  117. Is anyone else wondering if Saac is living in a van down by the river (mostly joking and referring to the Chris Farley SNL character)?

  118. I choose target over Walmart, even though it’s 10 mins further away, because the Walmart shopping experience sucks. The aisles are so narrow you can barely fit a cart through them, and *everyone* has giant, laden carts, so it’s a freaking obstacle course; Target has just as many people but nice, wide aisles, so I can at least maneuver and get my stuff.

    It’s the same reason I choose Wegman’s over Safeway: even like yesterday, when there was a huge backup to check out at Wegman’s, they at least had almost all of their aisles open. Whereas the last few times at Safeway, we’d be stacked up 5 deep because they had only two lanes open. Both equally slow, but I’d rather at least think the store is trying to help move me along.

    Although Milo, I do agree with your comment about the constant Wegman’s moving stuff around crapola. Highly, highly annoying.

    It’s all this marketing data stuff. They’re discovering they can sell more stuff to impulse buys when they can slow people down and force them to take more time navigating through the store. Which is fine when I have 2 hrs to wander the aisles, like I did when I was on maternity leave and DS was happily asleep in the snugli. But nowadays I usually have @45 mins before I get kids from Hebrew School, so I need to shop at 60 mph and get it done. Whether or not the displays/narrow aisles/etc. actually make me buy more stuff, they PISS ME OFF and send me elsewhere. And one of the things I liked about Wegman’s when they opened was the nice, wide aisles that helped me zoom through. But the more they intentionally throw roadblocks in my way to force me to slow down — whether it’s displays that mean only 1.5 carts fit at a time, meaning I have to wait for the lady with the two kids in the “pretend car” cart to slowly meander by; or whether it’s reorganizing the shelves so I have to take more time and look around to find what I want — it’s all just one more mental checkmark on the “bad” side. And when too many checkmarks pile up, I go somewhere else. That’s exactly what happened with Safeway; it’s why I gave up on Costo when Wegman’s opened; and now I can see it starting to happen at Wegman’s, too.

  119. Our supermarkets are so bad that I have supermarket envy when I travel and visit a Publix or Wegmans.
    Price Chopper is just upstate NY.
    We have just have Stop and Shop, Shop Rite or A & p.

    We have national specialty markets that are clean and well stocked such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market. Great service, but high prices.

  120. off topic, my son had his first soccer game over the weekend, he LOVED it and is good at it , hoping he sticks with his enthusiasm, he had so much fun

  121. Lauren, we also have that strange Country Market, which I think was an IGA at one time. I shop there a lot because they have by far the best Italian sausage, made on premises, in the area. They also have decent sushi, a good beer selection, and extensive Italian and Brazilian import sections.

    I increasingly hate our stop and shop. About 2 or 3 years ago, the chain went on a kick to reduce the number of different items it stocks, and many things I buy bit the dust at that time. Our local S&S has really gotten bad. It isn’t a Super S&S, and in fact is Manhattan sized. Not only do they carry far fewer products than the slimmed down Super S&S, but they are usually out of stock on many common items. One day I went there and discovered that they no longer carry any brand of canned pea soup (my oldest had his braces tightened and was requesting that for dinner). Another time, I wanted apricot jam, which I consider to be a normal item, and discovered they only stock one brand/one size (S&S brand, small) and they were completely out of stock. And on weekends, god forbid that you might want hamburger…

  122. Maybe my standards are low, but I find both Target and Kohl’s well-organized and neat here in the NYC suburbs. But I do enjoy visiting Walmart’s when I travel to flyover country. I agree that Target has nice clothes for kids, and sometimes for adults. I have a LBD from there that has served me well. Kohl’s has name brand clothing, and I’ve shopped there a lot for kids with good results.

    I’m a sucker for the $1 section of Target. I almost always find something I MUST have. :)

  123. So, here’s a good one. Last night, bad weather, the alarm goes off at 1:30 — we see it’s the basement door, which doesn’t really latch and so has previously set off the alarm in high winds, so we turn off the alarm and go back to bed.

    An hour later, I jolt awake, thinking I hear someone knocking on the door. By the time I wake up, I think I hear a few thumps, so then I wake up *all* the way, heart pounding. But then it’s dead silence, and I don’t want to wake DH up again for nothing, so I eventually fall back asleep. Tell DH this morning, hah-hah, silly me. Open the front door to go to work: there are large men’s footprints on our front porch. They come up to the door, they go up to the front window and all the way around to the side window. And there’s another one on the basement door. !!! And I see I got a call from a mystery number around 1:40-1:45. So DH is ordering a video surveillance system this morning, and heading to HD for a new basement door lockset this afternoon, and I’m heading to the office worrying about DD coming home alone today.

    Then I get into the office and trace the number back to my alarm company. And it all clicks together. The wind did set off the alarm. The company tried to call me, but we were all asleep, so they called the cops. Who showed up around 2:30, knocked on the door, looked through the windows, saw that everything was ok, saw the basement door ajar but that no one was in there (it is actually propped shut with a bag of potting soil, which was still in place this AM), and kicked the door to shut it all the way, and left to go back to the precinct.

    Oh. Duh.

  124. “than it is at Wegman’s, where even the employees, who are trying to be helpful, often have no idea about their latest weekly marketing experiment in product display arrangement. They move stuff CONSTANTLY–it’s maddening.”

    Milo – I am glad you said that. Honestly, I thought it was just our store, which happens to be their showcase here near the corporate offices where they will try stuff out, see what works then roll the good ideas out to the rest of the stores. Danny et al are ALWAYS there slowing things down. When he’s there, you get him, the store manager + at least 2 other execs clogging up the fish department or whatever on a Saturday morning when I just want to get in and out with my 7 items.

  125. Property Brothers was filming at a mom & pop paint store in our village this weekend. I can’t wait to see the makeovers they do to local homes.

  126. Coc, I’m a sucker for the $1 section too! They always have grocery list notepads with a magnet on the back, so I keep those in stock for every season. Lately DD has been using them to practice spelling words – it seems to make it more fun for her to write on fun paper. And I’ll get her seasonal pencils there too.

    I despise Walmart. I feel like that place sucks the energy out of me. There’s always a cart in my way, usually 2 stopped in the middle of the aisle right in front of the item I want. And they eliminated the fabric dept. a few years ago at my local store. And then there’s the whole living wage issue. . .I’d rather just not go there. The shopping experience is just so much nicer at Target, plus they have an in-store Starbucks!

  127. so the dow drops 280 pts Friday and is up 220 pts so far this morning. I want to know who was brilliant enough to sell all at the close Thursday and then buy it back at the close Friday.
    Lesson: don’t try to time the markets.

  128. I love Target. I’m usually not much of an impulse buyer, but that store is the exception. Somehow I’d always end up with $100 worth of random stuff whenever I’d go in. I’ve saved so much money since I greatly reduced the number of times I shop there.

  129. Mooshi, I don’t know about the Country Market. I do like Stews. It is really easy for me to get there, and I can go very early when it is not crowded. I know it isn’t for everyone, but I find it easy to navigate when it is not busy. They have a great selection of wine, and their prices are fair.

    My favorite supermarket is a small local chain that I didn’t even mention. It is family owned and they keep expanding in our county. They are small markets, but they try to carry any product that the specific community is looking for in their stores. They are amazing community partners because they donate 100s of thousands of dollars to the school districts. They keep clear bins in the front for receipts and shoppers just choose their school district to deposit the receipt and a percentage goes directly to the designated school district. Many school districts receive
    $25 -40,000 per school year from the receipts.

    They keep expanding their gluten free and allergen free products in our local store based on requests from families. The prices are slightly higher, but their staff is a pleasure to work with all of the time.

  130. Target doesn’t pay significantly more than Walmart. Target announced in February that would not match the Walmart increase, but Target reversed their decision a month later. Target raised their wages this month to match Walmart. I think Costco is one of the few big box retailers that voluntarily pays their workers more than the min or average.

  131. Rio – agree on impulse buys at Target. When my kids were younger I had to ration my visits.

    SWVA – cute paper and pens has always made a difference for my daughter and her school work. (Like my love of planners with stickers). Totally worth the extra hassle to find, in my book.

    Milo, your driveway camping reminded me of one of the fundraisers our neighborhood elementary does. In the neighborhood park, dads and their kids camp out overnight for a small fee. (It runs noon to noon on a Saturday). This was undoubtedly created by a mom, who I suspect is dearly loved by all the other moms.

  132. I rarely go to Target because we buy most of the stuff we used to buy there at Costco, but I am puzzled by the hoopla over the Lily collaboration.. I saw some stuff on FB where people were waiting in line in the middle of the night. Can’t you just buy regular Lily on sale?

  133. “does Target pay significantly more than Walmart?”

    I don’t think so, if at all, especially in light of Walmart’s recent announcement to up its own min. wage. And the employment arrangements for the Amazon contractors (they don’t even bother keeping employees) has to be the worst of all.

    LfB – I’m still surprised that you find Walmart’s aisles crowded. It’s the exact opposite for me. Compared to Wegman’s, the aisles are wide, the displays are clearly presented, the store is well-lit… Wegman’s tries too hard with that faux old-market ambience, and sometimes it just seems dark and cluttered.

  134. I agree with Rio and MBT about impulse buys at Target! I cut way back on Target runs for this exact reason.

    In my experience, the quality of Target versus Walmart depends a lot on the individual stores. I have shopped in super dumpy Targets and beautiful well organized Walmarts (and vice versa).

  135. Laurafrombaltimore –

    That must have really scared you! The closest thing to anyone trying to get in our house was when someone tried to open our garage door. I guess you can so something where you push it up and get it to go off the automatic opener track. It was late at night and DH was out of town. I looked out my bedroom window and saw a shadowy figure walking away. It was so scary even though nothing happened.

    DH put bolts on the garage door when he came back. It gives you a nice feeling of security, but then you can’t get in the house through the garage if you forget your keys!

    We’ve had the police come before, the latest was when we set the alarm with the dog inside. Inside of setting it for “at home” where you can walk around the house we set it for “away” and the poor dog set off the motion detector! We were at church and did not get the calls from the alarm company. I guess the police came by and saw the dog when they rang the bell and left. Arggghh!

  136. Lauren, what is the the small market, if you don’t mind? Is it the one that has a branch in Bronxville and also in Scarsdale?

  137. Not a fan of Stew Leonards, which I knew well from my time in CT. It is one of those stores, like TJs, where it is hard to find real food. Stews focuses more on fresh prepared meals, whereas TJs is all about frozen or jarred prepared foods

  138. Mooshi, yes .. That is the store.
    I think there is a huge difference in the stores that haven’t been remodeled yet. I don’t like to shop in the Scarsdale location because it is too small. The one in my town is nice, but I was in Armonk yesterday and that new store is beautiful.

    The owners and the managers are just so accessible. They really work with about 7 or 8 public and private schools in my area to donate money. They will also donate gift cards for raffles for the local alcohol and drug prevention group etc.

  139. This Target/Walmart conversation makes me laugh. No Walmart near me, but there is a Target. AWFUL. Cannot adequately describe how much I hate going there. Told this to my sister who lives in upstate and she is flabbergasted. She LOVES Walmart and Target, going there multiple times a week. She thought I didn’t like it because I don’t like shopping generally. Then she visited the store near me. There really are significant differences between an urban Target and ones in the burbs and country.

    For kids clothes, well at least boys, I like H&M and Uniglo (when they have stuff). Better quality than JC Penney, Sears/KMart, the Target near me and Kohls. Gap kids, LL Bean are also go to shops (online) for basics.

  140. I took DD to Target yesterday, at her request. She’s outgrown some of her clothes and needed new clothes, and that’s her first choice for clothes– she only goes elsewhere when she can’t find what she wants there.

    All we saw of Lilly Pulitzer was a small, innocuous display with about 6 items.

    I’ve been to several Targets throughout the country, and not encountered any of the problems mentioned by some here. All the ones I’ve been to have been neat, clean, and bright.

    I’ve seen more variability in Wal-Marts. The one we go to the most is extremely crowded, and I think they have a hard time keeping up. By contrast, other Wa-Marts here are much cleaner, but are also noticeably less crowded.

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