Wednesday, September 22

The Ikea cafeteria (part 2)

I eat at fast food restaurants a lot. Usually, when I'm finished, I'll throw the remnants of my meal in the garbage and stack my tray neatly on top of the garbage can to be collected.

Why do I do this? It would be easier to me to leave my tray on the table for an employee to clean up — it is someone's job, after all. I think I do it for two reasons. First, it's a social norm. Other people do it, so I feel like I should do it. Second, I feel bad for the fast-food employees because they do a tough job for a tiny wage, and I feel a little better about myself if I help them out (although by this logic, I'd start tipping the guy who gives me fries, so maybe my motivation is more due to social norms than outright altruism).

Monday, September 20

The Ikea cafeteria (part 1)

Having recently moved across the country, I've spent more time than I'd care to admit recently at the Ottawa Ikea. I'll spare blog readers a rant about the challenges of assembling their furniture. What's more fascinating about Ikea is their restaurant: it's really cheap. You can get a (very yummy) hot dog for just 50 cents.

It's a brilliant strategy and I'm not sure why other retailers don't use it as well: cover your costs (or even lose a little money) on food to draw people into the store, in hopes they'll buy pricier items. Ikea isn't getting rich off its hot dogs, but if everyone who buys a hot dog then decides to buy a $100 piece of furniture, their investment in food services is going to pay off quickly.

It's common knowledge that to get kids to buy stuff, all you need is a colourful little toy (cereals and McDonald's exploit this wonderfully). But while most women know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, not many retailers seem to exploit this. Costco offers a cheap cafeteria, but it doesn't quite rival the value of Ikea's. Other chains do have food deals (Chapters and Safeway with Starbucks, Home Depot with Harvey's, Walmart with McDonald's), but none are nearly as good value for money as Ikea.

Does anyone have ideas as to why no one seems to be mimicking Ikea's model?

Thursday, September 16

Public vs. private auto insurance

In February, I bought my first car in Ontario — a used 2009 Ford Focus. The dealer took care of the plates, and I took care of insurance.

Since auto insurance is private in Ontario, I searched online for the company that would give me the best price. After a phone call, and a fax that showed I owned the car, the transaction was done and the insurance company sent me proof of insurance papers in the mail.

It was simple. It took very little time. I didn't have to sign anyone or talk with anyone face-to-face.