Ethnography of Shopping: Scoop Vs.

In contrast, the sales associates at Century 21 function as managers of crowd control, particularly doing big sales days.

The reason for its apparent lack of care for its layout is because Century 21 is a discount store that is always crowed with bargains, versus a store that occasionally offers sales. Scoop lacks many bargain racks, no doubt because they would interfere with the stores cultivated image of exclusivity. Bargain racks would clutter up the layout of the store. Bargain racks tend to look unattractive because they contain a wide array of merchandise of assorted, rejected sizes and colors. This does not affirm the exclusive Scoop image. Consumers also tend to hover near bargain racks, creating a backlog of store traffic. Bargain racks draw consumer attention away from the areas of the store Scoop wants them to see, namely the more expensive items that are very trendy. Rather than advertising sales, Scoop tends to advertise the newness of the fashions that have just arrived.

Century 21 uses its discount merchandise as a draw by advertising sales, much like supermarkets advertise sales.

Consumers know that they can go to Century 21 to obtain clothes at a 40-65% discount on a regular basis, and even deeper discounts on store days. The sense of competition often causes women to go alone, so they will not have to fight with their friends about who saw the trendy Coach bag first. In contrast, Scoop is more of a social experience. Unlike Century 21, its dressing rooms are far larger, better organized, and offer attractive mirror space to encourage the consumers to carefully look at themselves, and see the designer-level quality in their clothes and image in the mirror.

Some consumers take a great deal of pride in finding bargains.

Even consumers who can afford more expensive items may enjoy the thrill of the chase in a crowded store, filled with discounted merchandise, versus the sneak previews of the next new season offered by Scoop. Thrift-hungry consumers feel a sense of pride in finding an expensive item at half-price that is a rare find. The overstocked Century 21 store is only loosely organized and would horrify a manager at a Scoop. But this is precisely the environment that Century 21 store shoppers are seeking. On its website, Century 21 advertises that it is fashion worth fighting for, acknowledging the intense search for bargains that cause people to come to the store and elbow one another to the side to obtain, ripping the clothes from the racks. The stores sprawling nature and the thrilling experience of searching for bargains is called epic and the typical Century 21 consumer is in search of that “score youll brag about forever. The fabulous find…or three… Or five…that you just happened to spot first. The moment when you look at your receipt and realize youve saved hundreds — or thousands — of dollars. Thats what were all about: the ultimate high-end designer shopping adventure, like nothing else in the world.”

Scoop is a shrine to fashion; Century 21 proudly advertises itself as an adventure.


Century 21. Official Website. Accessed on the World Wide Web at [April 5, 2011]

Miller, Daniel. “Thrift and treat” from Making Love in Super Markets. Ithaca: Cornell University


Daniel Miller, “Thrift and treat,” from Making Love in Super Markets, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), 45.

Miller, pp.46-47.

Miller, p.51.

Century 21, official website, accessed on the World Wide Web at [April 5,.

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