Private Labels

Private Labels: You Get What You Pay For?

In March 11, 2015
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Over the past few years, I have moved from house to apartment to girlfriend’s house back to apartment between Northfield and Lakewood and along the way, somehow, I lost my luggage (though you could argue I have more baggage). I can’t find my fly rod either, but that’s another story for another time. So I’m traveling a bit and really need a nice piece of modern 4-wheeled telescoping ABS locking ultra-colorful uber-cool suitcase. So it was time to shop! First stop, T.J. Maxx, then Marshall’s, both under the mega TJX retail store umbrella and now as large as Target and growing. I know they have a huge luggage selection and I know I can get a fantastic deal on a quality name-brand case. (I can’t stand paying retail for private labels unless it’s a one-of-a kind find or I’m on vacation.)

At my first stop, the Strongsville T.J. Maxx, I found a sweet bright green Revo hard case for 60 bucks. No way I was buying a bright green case at the first place I looked, but it was cool and I must say, $60 was great since the retail was over one hundred. Plus, I’d never lose it. Definite mental note. Next stop, Great Northern T.J. Maxx. I figured they’d have a few more choices and they did. However, zebra stripes, leopard spots and bright gold wasn’t doing it for me. If I was a fasionista, I’d be in air travel heaven. So since I was at Great Northern my next strategic move, of course, was to go malling! Dillards, JCPenny, Macy’s, and Sears (where I’ll never go looking for quality luggage again) were on my hit list. All had comparable prices and the same private labels -— Samsonite, Delsey, American something or other and Revo soft and hard cases. But really nothing under one hundred bucks. However, I did gain some knowledge about casters and zippers and expandability and test drove about 20 cases in the four stores.

So now I’m ready to go back to Strongsville and purchase the first case I saw so many hours ago. Hold the phone and put it in airplane mode! I forgot about Steelyard Marshall’s. One more stop before going green. I called ahead. The associate claimed they had more bags than anyone else. I’m excited. (Yep, I’m a little funny that way.) Bingo! Delsey, Mirage series, charcoal black, smooth rolling, strong pull up handle and solid hard case. 22 inches. ON SALE! Retailed at $140, but I got it for 70 smackers. Very happy to have made the extra trip and I love a fantastic deal! Right? Well, not exactly. The price was so right I needed to go online and see what kind of deals the world wide web had on the Delsey Mirage cases to prove I struck luggage gold. I searched for Delsey Mirage and found a used one on ebay. Huh? Why are all the bags I found Delsey Helium or Delsey Titanium? Not Mirage. The Delsey Mirage wasn’t even on the Delsey website. Was this a recalled case? Super old? Short lived? Are these private labels really private labels? I had no idea so I thought I’d write Delsey and get the skinny.

Here’s what I wrote:
“Hello,
I just purchased a Delsey Mirage hard case (22”, black, 4-wheeled) and couldn’t find any information on it via the world wide web. It’s not even on YOUR website. Leads me to believe that it was short lived or recalled? Can I get a heads up on this series of luggage? Thanks, Darin”

And here’s what I got back:
“Mr. Hintz,
Thank you for your interest in Delsey! We hope you enjoy your new Mirage! What sort of information would you like? This collection is made exclusively for Marshall’s which does not sell online, which may be why you are unable to locate much information for this specific series online I’m afraid.”

After reading the reply, my immediate thoughts were: “EXCLUSIVELY FROM MARSHALLS?” and “This luggage NEVER sold ANYWHERE for $140.” It was marked up and then marked down to look like the deal of the century. Not happy. Do I love the case? Yes! Are the wheels going to fall off or is the telescoping handle just going to pull out? I honestly don’t know. I must say, I feel I was bamboozled by TJX taking a $70 item and falsely marking the price up 200%, then taking 50% off because it fell under the “private labels” category. After further research it seems many private labels are in cahoots with this marketing plan of attack. And it’s working beautifully. There are a lot of ‘hush-hush” and secret deals and “no comment” stuff online so if you want more info check this out from USA Today or this from Medium.

Darin Hintz

My wheels are always turning. I love writing about different aspects of my pedal-powered commute to our downtown office, the ever-changing CLE landscape, and helping others express their blogs visually with unique graphic devices. No two days are ever the same…either at work or just getting here.

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