As Hurricane Sandy’s death toll continues to rise and Easterners are slowly starting to pick up the pieces of their lives and toss then under a fan to dry off. More than 8 million are still without power and access to the internet, although, this may be a good thing in some cases.
Several retailers, like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and Long Island based Singer22.com were encouraging those hit by the hurricane to hold tight and shop by sending out e-mail blasts promoting sales in states hit by the monster storm.
Granted, it is one thing for stores like Costo and Walmart to offer sales on items to stock up on batteries, water and food. At least these stores offer the customer something that will not only benefit them, but may be the difference between life in death in extreme cases.
Yes, I do believe these companies are capitalizing on the sudden demand for items that are normally only purchased by people that believe the zombie apocalypse is coming in a month, but at least there is a direct correlation with the safety and well being of consumers.
Buying a basic red, 70 percent cotton, 30 percent polyester zip-up hoodie for $40.80 instead of $52 from American Apparel with the last hour of battery life remaining on my laptop, however, just doesn’t seem to matter.
Because when the storm does finally pass and there’s no electricity or water in the apartment and there’s a chance we’ll be the last of the 20,000 stranded people rescued, like in Hoboken, N.J., I know I’m going to be happy with my purchase of food, flashlights and even a generator instead of a measly red, zip-up sweater I bought 20 percent off.
And when the water finally recedes and the many cities that were damaged by Sandy’s rage begin to rebuild and heal, what will be left?
Many homeowners will have a large bill and insurance companies unwilling to dish out enough to restore what’s left of the home they made a life in as well as things that cannot be replaced, like pictures and family heirlooms, which may be damaged or completely lost.
Images of New York City are already shocking many across the nation. The city that holds so many’s dreams and aspirations across the country doesn’t glimmer as brightly in the night, but New Yorkers are not ones to sit idly and cry over their tea.
Spending a summer in the city will always connect me to it, which is why I personally feel insulted by these companies. I understand that we live in a material society and I even understand that many of the retailers have helped with past natural disasters, like Katrina and Haiti. If anything, I think that the thousands of e-mails sent out boasting their sales serves as a wake up call for our country.
Do we really want to live in a world were material needs overcome our need for survival? And even if one lives in an area that only received a rainstorm from Sandy, is it morally right to buy instead of give a portion of that to help victims of the storm?
Though American Apparel representatives are quick to point at finger at “Corporate Responsibility” page on their website, the fact of the matter is that only a small portion of a purchase will go toward aiding the East Coast. It is purely a marketing ploy, nothing else.
As Christmas decoration are put up in stores throughout the country and Black Friday approaches, I shudder to think about another round of the endless tugging on the arm on the American consumer to always buy more. That is why we, as a society, need to deeply assess the value of accumulating more things and the importance of family, friends and our fellow man.
I’m not saying that giving everyone on your Christmas list a certificate of donation to some charity is the solution, but seriously consider buying from local shops or taking advantage of the endless ideas for crafty gifts on Pinterest this holiday season.
Because at the end of the day if some kind of disaster hits your city, I can guarantee the businesses in your own neck of the woods will be there with a helping hand a lot quicker than a corporation.