Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teen Awareness of the Recession

When I was in high school and college, I was blissfully ignorant of the economy for the most part. We had recessions, to be sure, and my parents sold the family home in the Palisades when the taxes got too high (in California’s pre-Prop 13 days). But they rarely talked about money or money matters in front of us kids.

As USA Today reported earlier this year, today’s teens are more tuned in. My own kids are not only aware of the current recession, they want to understand it…to a point. And they accept it, even when it comes to this year’s Winter Formal.

My daughter is a junior, and this weekend we went shopping for an outfit for next month’s Winter Formal. As at Christmas, I was amazed by the crowds. We were in the Westfield Mall in San Francisco, and the stores and restaurants were packed with buyers.

There were deals to be had. We started out at Bloomingdale’s and after trying on a dozen or so dresses, found one by French Connection she loved but was a size too small, and had them hold 3 others while we went to look elsewhere. She was concerned that someone else would show up in the BCBG dress she put on hold. A group of 15 girls all agreed to post pictures of their dresses on Facebook to prevent duplicates (GREAT IDEA!), but the whole school is not part of the plan, so she couldn’t be sure. BCBG seems to be the favorite of high school juniors and seniors, and apparently two girls wore the same BCBG dress last year. The horror!

So, we worked our way through the mall. The favorite dress on hold at Bloomies was on sale at the BCBG boutique for 30% off – and the store was filled with girls from our high school. So, despite the discount, which put the dress closer to the price I had in mind, the dress was off the list. The whole brand was out. We ended up finding a totally unique dress in a London boutique called Reiss – no way would anyone else have that dress. It was marked down 75%, which put the dress comfortably in our price range.

So, we bought it, and a great looking pair of sandals to go with. Later, at home she went online and found her size in one of the dresses she’d tried on at Bloomingdale’s that was a size too small at LolaBoutique.com. What to do? Like lots of people, we are cutting back and watching our spending.

She came up with the plan – return the sandals since she realized she already had shoes to go with either dress. Return the dress to Reiss. And since the dress online was still slightly over the price I had in mind, have her pay the difference. Oh, and let her run around and handle the returns herself.

So, the winners here? French Connection over BCBG, boutiques over department stores, Facebook, and parents who let their kids feel a little fiscal responsibility.

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