The Hidden Price of Everything

Edith Perez

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Stores like H&M and Ikea have become quite popular in recent years because of their low prices on popular products. This has made fast chain stores a popular choice for students going back to school or moving into their first apartments. However, the question of how they lower their costs and how their products are manufactured arises. What makes their products different from ones that you can find in a thrift store or a high end store?

Ikea relies on do-it-yourself assembling to keep their prices low. They sell you the parts and you construct the piece of furniture yourself. This keeps prices on the items down because the company doesn’t pay to assemble the furniture. The packaging the product comes in also plays a big part in decreasing prices. They make them flat, which limits the need for more cardboard packaging. They also keep costs low by using materials like plywood instead solid wood, which helps both the environment and your wallet.

Another technique companies use to keep their prices down is in the way their stores are designed. They keep all of their items in a warehouse instead of a fancy retail store, which lets the customer browse on their own and decide what they need.

“When you go down to the warehouse it’s all ordered by numbers and letters, so it’s just pull-get, pull-get,” said engineering teacher Sean Denny. “Their system is so cheap they don’t need a lot of people to make the system work. They just need people down really at the cashiers. They don’t have the sales people. They just have one or two people on the floor, so their whole system is leaned downed to the bare minimum of what they need and what they have to have to get it done.”

H&M, a fast fashion company, keeps their prices low by using recycled materials to make their clothing. Many of the textile factories and workshops they work with are overseas, where labor is cheaper. They take a heavy stance on being environmentally friendly by encouraging people to bring their own bags and charging people for the plastic shopping bags they get with their purchase. However, they have also impacted the environment in a negative way. Some of the international textile producers they partner with pollute nearby waterways with runoff dyes they use to produces their clothes.

H&M prides itself on its fast fashion by keeping their consumers constantly shopping for new items and replacing the old items quickly.

Fast fashion retailers often appeal to their customers’ emotions by labeling themselves as environmentally friendly. By making their products align with current trends, they appeal to teens and students.

“The price is affordable, but for a company that claims it’s environmentally friendly it’s not. Their factory’s pollution increases global warming to the environment,” said junior Helen Tran.

There are pros and cons of these fast chain retailers. While they are lower in prices, they usually come with some added costs. Whether it be the extra cost of a bag or paying extra for a product to be assembled, there is usually a hidden cost to everything. You win some and you lose some, but the biggest lesson learned is to not be fooled by the price tag.