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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spending Other People's Money

One item on our wedding to dos that I didn't think twice about initially was the registry. Figured we select a couple of things we needed across various price ranges. And voila! We'd be done.

Until Thursday night, this was pretty much true. Oddly enough it was a registry party - something that one would assume would be frivolous and fun - that had me (and us) rethinking our registry approach.

A few things you should know before we continue.
  1. We combined households this past October when we moved in together. What one of us didn't have the other did. For the most part, while linens and dishes might not match we're able to sleep and eat just fine.
  2. We're not your traditional fine china type of couple. Even when I had a dining room table, I sat cross legged on a floor pillow eating off my coffee table. I invited friends over for picnic style entertaining where we gathered around the coffee table. cubes and I do this now and even though we eat gathered around a coffee table, our friends still come to dinner.
  3. We have nice things that we bought on sale or that we individually or as a couple decided were worth splurging on.
Initially we'd thought about two registries - Macy*s (both bricks-and-mortar and online locations) and MyRegistry (solely online). Macy*s when you stalk sales and Internet specials (like I do) can be reasonably priced. Most of the time though, its wares are overpriced.

A little background on me. I was a pretty practical child growing up (could be because I hung out around adults and not classmates/neighborhood kids). From about my 12th birthday on, I had a "registry" for my family to select gifts from. There was a dinnerware pattern (Dansk Christianshaven Blue), an Oneida silverware pattern (can't remember the name, but it's no longer available), a pots and pan set (Farberware), etc. The patterns for the plates and silverware were chosen to appeal to both men and women (in case I got married we'd be able to continue using the sets). Brands were chosen for their reputation for quality or price. A lot of these items came from Macy*s - at the time a store that sold moderately priced items, not a store that was positioning itself against Nordstrom.

I don't like taking or spending other people's money. I think it has to do with the fact that I've worked for a lot of start ups that were bootstrapped or VC-funded. At most start ups we thought about how to make the money go as far as possible. There was one exception and people there joked about "spending other people's money." The cavalier attitude with which people made purchases always struck me the wrong way. And... that's the attitude that after last week's registry party I find myself confronting with Macy*s.

I know Macy*s marks up their wares. I'm okay with it in principal because I only shop there when their wares are on sale. I'm in Marketing, so I firmly believe the "Buyer Beware" adage. I research every purchase I make at Macy*s before I make it because I know they mark up their wares so they can offer sales with deep "discounts." For example, the Noritake place setting is normally $71 at Macy*s, but regularly on sale for $34 (the regular price at an online store and now at Bed, Bath, & Beyond as well - thanks again Mooflyfoof for this info!).

So here's where I'm not okay with Macy*s. I don't know whether family members who aren't Internet savvy know that Macy*s marks up their wares. With the exception of dinnerware and linens, we tried to put items on our Macy*s registry that were comparable or less expensive than other options (this is true of both an All Clad French Skillet and Catskill Craftsman Kitchen Cart we selected online). Yes I know it's their money at the end of the day and they can spend it however they want. But my conscience won't let me direct anyone towards something that I personally wouldn't buy if it's not on sale while a promotion is running.

I'm also afraid that the pushy reps we so easily walked away will converge on our family members. And I don't want anyone - especially anyone on a fixed or tight budget - to feel pressured to buy anything. And I don't want to have nightmares about a rep at Macy*s pressuring my mom or dad or gram into buying something at Macy*s' full price off sale (yes my first wedding nightmare was about a registry of all things). I know my parents like Macy*s but I know they don't use the Internet so they may not be aware that Macy*s no longer stands for value, it's trying to move upscale and play where Nordstrom plays.

So our Macy*s registry is gone. Now that we know Bed, Bath & Beyond now carries our dinnerware, we'll be registering there.

In case you're as done with hearing about registries as I am with dealing with them there will be three more registry posts and then we're hopefully done with this topic. We'll space the posts out over the next few Thursdays. A more detailed write up of our Crate and Barrel's registry experience (I just transferred my photos from my camera to my laptop and have to give a shout out for Crate and Barrel - especially Nick's amazing knife demo). A review of the MyRegistry iPhone App. Our Bed, Bath & Beyond registry experience.

Have you heard of brides (not including me) going back and forth on where to register? Taking the time to register and then changing their mind?

I'd hadn't really heard of brides changing their mind about items on their registries or of brides going back and forth over where to have their registry until Miss Trail Mix and Miss Jellyfish, respectively.

Did you struggle with where you registered? What did you end up doing?


  1. We've definitely changed our minds a few times, as I mentioned in my ranty comments about Macy's in your other post. Even more so, we've shuffled things depending on the price, making sure that it wasn't just a sales price. We ended up registering for most of our stuff on Amazon.com because they have everything, and it tends to be cheapest. The often offer free shipping, too. We have a few things at BB&B and C&B so there are brick & mortar stores for those who don't want to shop online. We also tended to go for brick & mortar stores for things we really needed to check out in person (like towels and sheets). And lastly, there have been SO many items that we've added to our registry and then later removed. It's actually really nice: the ability to "buy" something and then revisit it 2 weeks later to decide if we *actually* want it. Turns out about 50% of what I initially want I change my mind about a few weeks later. Who knew? But now we've released our registries publicly on our website so we can't change our minds too much any more. I'm very comfortable with where they're at, though. Plenty of $20-$50 items, alongside several higher ticket appliances ($100-$350). We'll see how much we actually get. Maybe we'll add that fine china back on later if our registries get depleted...

  2. Can't wait to read about your experience with the MyRegistry.com iPhone app! We registered there just to add a cash gift and then they came out with this. Looks really fun and addicting and we're going to get it once my fiance gets his new iPhone! Love your blog - very fun and detailed :)

  3. @Mooflyfoof - we'd had our registries up on our wedsite and we still redid them. We rev the home page our wedsite every month and in our Check In Post we'll update it.

    @Carly - MyRegistry.com iPhone app a first-gen app so my review will have highlights and lowlights (user error). We're going to try using the app again before we finish the review as I used it wrong the first time.


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