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  • Warren Shoulberg

Of Slices and Sheets

Warren Shoulberg Publisher/Editorial DirectorWarren Shoulberg Publisher/Editorial Director
If you've been to New York City recently and weren't eating all of your meals on an expense account, you are probably aware of the single biggest dining and eating controversy going on in the history of this town.
     We're talking about the $1 Pizza Wars. It's certainly the most dramatic development in pizzadom since the 1970s, when it seemed like every single slice joint in town was vying to see which could be the most Original Rays.
     That era produced a disease the city has yet to fully recover from, summarized in a theory that I developed to analyze the situation: the Rays Original Theory ... or ROT.
     The theory was that an industry jumps on a trend, usually counter-productive to its best interests - both collectively and individually - when it sees that trend take hold with the general population. When every pizza parlor claimed to be THE Original Rays it produced a lemming effect that still haunts some neighborhoods a generation later.
     Well, now ROT has resurfaced but with a different manifestation. Someone - and really, who knows who that actually was - at a hole-in-the-wall pizza place somewhere in the city decided to cut its prices and drop the cost of a single slice for a buck.
     Faster than you could say pepperoni pizza, dozens of places popped up promoting the popularity of pizza for just 100 pennies. Some places even went further, dropping down to 79 cents and for all I know, it's gotten lower even as we speak.
     This current iteration of the Pizza Wars is only one more example of what happens when ROT sets in and industries get sucked into death-non-defying situations.
     Such situations, it should be pointed out to those of you more interested in sheets than slices, are quite commonplace in our own little world of sheets and towels. Pricing Wars have taken place in virtually every single home textiles product classification, from bed-in-a-bag to solid color towels to quilts to multi-packs of washcloths. It happens.
     But what the home textiles business can't ever seem to quite grasp is that the actions of the industry cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The same shopper who is buying $9.99 king sheet sets is also buying 99 cent slices of pizza ... and for the same reason: It's a bargain, perceived or otherwise.
     A lot of those buck pizza slices are pretty dreadful and so are many of the crap-in-a-bag products this industry sells. But it's what the customer wants - or at least thinks she wants - so it will go on.
     The home textiles business can't ever forget it is part of a larger consumer buying universe.
     It's just another slice of the pie.

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