Friday, March 1, 2013

Home Shopping—No Longer Just For the Gauche


Sometimes when I don’t want to watch television but I want to hear some “white noise,” I turn on a home shopping channel.

Home shopping channels are hilarious. The hosts are unabashed in their merciless, over-the-top promotion and you can’t be mad at them—it’s the job. Even if your cohost faints during the presentation, the show must go on.

I’m old enough to remember (man, I hate that I can say that) when shopping on television was considered hopelessly tacky. This was before widespread use of home computers and the explosion of the internet. Shopping by television was mostly for old ladies with bad taste and a penchant for collecting lots and lots of junk, or at least that was the stereotype.

I confess that I went through a period in my twenties when packages regularly showed up on my doorstep from the Home Shopping Network (HSN). As I entered my thirties, however, eBay was becoming more and more popular, and unlike television shopping eBay was considered cool. It’s also highly addictive, and as a result I began buying through the web instead. So now, I mostly watch the home shopping networks for amusement value.

However, that’s just me. In 2012, HSN reported a 14% increase in revenue, and QVC also saw increases last year. (ShopNBC posted losses for the year, but a lot of their stuff really is crap, in my opinion.)

Being the jewelry hound that I am, I always try and check out Carol Brodie when she’s on HSN, because her jewelry designs are cool, even if I wouldn’t purchase them. I’m a purist and I don’t do vermeil, I'm no fan of 10K (less alloy than gold for crying out loud!), and I’m not into sterling. (I always like it on other women, though.) But the other reason I watch Brodie is that she’s entertaining. The other day while hawking her “evil eye” bracelet, she told the story of walking into a room with her new svelte figure and feeling the hate from the other women gritting on her. While she said the hater look is “painful” she coped by rubbing the eye on her bracelet. Okay, Carol.

Well, I gotta go. HSN is doing a big Oz the Great and Powerful special, and they’re selling all kinds of things inspired by the movie. (You really do have to admire the network’s hustle.) I’m sure I’ll be smiling before too long.