Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Oxymoronic Home Depot

Bed Bath and Beyond. Let’s analyze the name for a second. You wash up and go to bed. In order to implement these two tasks you need certain devices: a bed, a sink, a toilet, sheets, pillowcases and towels. Then there are the three S’s, shave, shit and shower. But what about the “Beyond” element. Is there an implication that these life processes will take us to the Great Beyond, in which case the store should definitely have an afterlife life section, with things like coffins, caskets and headstones—items which are not normally sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or let’s take Home Depot. What is a depot? A place in which one stores things or from which one arrives or departs. We go to the bus depot to find the Greyhound. Home Depot is an oxymoron when you look closely at it. Home is the ultimate point of arrival, the place that travellers return to. Odysseus ended his odyssey by returning home unrecognized, except by his trusty dog Argos. Why would I want to go to a warehouse or a point of departure when I am trying to surround myself with things that make me feel at home? And then there is Staples, a store specializing in objects used in the work place or in school—notebooks, computers, pencils, erasers. You probably won’t find much carbon paper in today’s Staples since only a few eccentrics and dyed- in-the-wool old school writers use Royals. But why Staples, why not Desk, Book and Beyond, or Clips, or Hard Drives? Is it because the kind of things one purchases in Staples are the staples of life? Does it have to do with the staple, an invention which once helped people to bind things together and that is also becoming an anachronism in our drive towards paperless files. Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Depot and Staples have replaced the mattress stores, hardware stores and stationary stores of the past, but if you take the names seriously they are all selling something which they don’t carry, which doesn't exist or doesn’t make sense.

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