Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Got My Junk Through The NYT! Buy High-Priced Gifts At NYT Store, And You'll Pay Only A 30 Percent Markup For The Privilege.

Why pay less?

That appears to be the sales motto of the NYT Store, which continues to add to its inventory with all manner of high-priced trinkets and souvenirs.

But in many cases, its products are available elsewhere on the Internet -- and at only a fraction of the NYT's exorbitant prices.

We noticed this odd sales phenomenon -- we're not retailing experts, but we think it's called "markup" -- when we were pondering the purchase of a "Spicy Letter from James Buchanan," written in 1853 by the future 15th president (and our nation's only bachelor-in-chief) to a young woman named Eliza Wattstein.

In the letter, Buchanan writes that he's hoping to experience "the pleasure of a tete a tete with your ladyship." Spicy indeed!

The NYT Store offers this tasty slice of Americana for only $5,200, and describes it as a "rare one-of-a-kind document" and "a real piece of history."

But before buying, we did what any red-blooded American would do: we searched for a bargain. And within a couple of clicks, we found one. The same letter was for sale online through a document dealer named Seth Kaller, for only $2,950! (According to the Christie's website, the letter was sold at auction in 2006 from the Forbes Collection for only $1,800.)

Curious, we began perusing the NYT gift shop for other overpriced items. And quickly, we realized that our favorite newspaper was engaged in the business of marking up a multitude of expensive knick-knacks -- typically as much as 30 percent over other online stores selling the identical things.

A few examples:

You could buy "Steal Your Face Cuff Links" -- because really, who doesn't want sterling silver jewelry that commemorates The Grateful Dead? -- for $135 at the NYT Store.

Or, with a few clicks, you could buy the identical links from www.hippieshop.com for $99.95.

How about a 1901 black-and-white photo called "Keith's Bicycle Track," of four men riding bikes in a cylinder? Surely you're willing to part with $199 for an 11-x-14 image of such hijinks from the NYT Store.

But if that's too much, the identical photo is available from the Museum of the City of New York for $125.

Let's see, what other kooky crap does the NYT have to offer at over-the-top prices?

Well, we're always on the lookout for a framed, autographed Amy Grant album cover, because who isn't?

Turns out we're in luck! !he NYT sells an authenticated, framed, autographed cover of Grant's "House of Love" for $550.

Of course, we could always buy the identical item from the tias.com website, that sells authenticated autographs from celebrities at bargain prices -- they've got the same authenticated Grant album cover and frame for $358.80.

But really, we like handing the NYT nearly $200 in extra profit. It's our little way of saying thanks, for all those wonderful Tom Friedman columns!

Feeling romantic and rich? Then spend 20 percent more for a "Romantic Lafayette Pendant," on sale at the NYT Store for $59, even though the catalog mentions that it's created by the New York Historical Society.

Go to the society's online store, and you'll find the same pendant for $47.

We suppose it's only fair that the NYT Store charge what is sometimes referred to by retailers as "list price" for certain items -- say, for example, a NYT book that collects all its front pages in a large bound volume, with accompanying DVD-ROM, which the NYT store sells for $60.

But it's hard to resist buying the same book at Amazon, for $37.80 -- a 37% discount.


lesdmd said...

C'mon nytpicker... no one is coercing you into purchasing the Times Store
crap, and those stupid enough to do so without verifying a best price elsewhere have only themselves to blame. Now, if the Times was claiming "the lowest price anywhere" or has found a way to hypnotize its readers with a secret print font . . .

Anonymous said...

Isn't there some sort of threshold for markups? Sad to see the NYT this desperate for an extra few bucks.

Anonymous said...

The NYTPicker pile-on begins. Always my favorite part of the comments here, the people who come here every day and then trash each posting.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the NYT Store. Why does the paper lend its distinguished name to the sale of overpriced trinkets?

Anonymous said...

I'm with the fourth commenter. Why indeed does the NY Times store sell anything not directly connected with the newspaper?

Anonymous said...

Personally I love to trash the knee-jerk NYTPicker defenders who reflexively trash the NYT faithful. The NYTPicker may be right some of the time, but it's clear that the Picker needs to keep the blog fresh each day. Some days it may serve up steak, but other days it's just a rancid slice of bologna.

Anonymous said...

Re: 'it's just a rancid slice of bologna'

Sort of like its subject, eh?

Only it doesn't charge (yet) for its product.

What are you talking about? said...

In defense of the ‘Steal Your Face’ cufflinks that are being sold by the New York Times, the quality of the cufflinks is EXQUISITE. I own a pair of them, work in the jewelry industry, and can testify firsthand that the cufflinks are heavy, composed of a lot of silver with oxidation and have a design that beautifully conveys the artwork. The ‘identical item’ that you have linked your cufflinks to, in case you haven’t noticed, is clearly is not identical. Not only are these not the same cufflinks, but they are cast with open work on the face and a thinner shank which makes them lighter and less expensive. Also, the design on the cufflinks is nowhere near as precise as that on the New York Time’s ‘Steal Your Face’ cufflinks. In fact, the margin on the ‘identical item’ is quite high for the amount of silver used and the design. I understand a need to ‘rant and rave,’ but it is also important to have a firm understanding of pricing and the materials used in the products you are talking about. Paying $135 for cufflinks of this quality is a good deal. Period.

Foghorn said...

what are you talking about? innocently failed to mention that the Dead's own website sells the same cufflinks at the same price.

no deals in deadville, but cute 'links.