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Retail Anarchy: A Radical Shopper's Adventures in Consumption Paperback – March 31, 2009

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From condescending ad campaigns to tricky math at the register, consumers may not realize everything they have to be upset about in the tanking economy. Self-trained economist Pocker, for one, is mad as hell, and thinks you should be too. In four wide-ranging "movements," Pocker tackles everything from Dollar General, Target and late electronics retailer The Wiz to Red Lobster and Coca-Cola to women's fashion and brand loyalty. Much of Pocker's observations are highly insightful, such as his story of ordering a Sausage McMuffin without egg and being charged for the egg anyway: "McDonald's would make an extra $95,000 a day simply... because nobody wants to look like a maniac demanding a nineteen-cent refund." Analysis of insulting marketing includes a Dominos Pizza-The Dark Knight promotion that gave pizza buyers online access to a movie trailer ("Apparently, no one at Dominos Pizza ever heard of YouTube"), and simple shopping tips ("complimentary alcoholic beverages... should present an enormous red flag") push back against retailer efforts to quash consumer common sense. Pocker is driven by crystal-clear X-ray vision and no shortage of indignant fury; the anger may not appeal to everyone, but Pocker's canny insight will resonate with any American shopper.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Publishers, June 22, 2009
"…Pocker's canny insight will resonate with any American shopper."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; 1 edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762434392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762434398
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,066,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Heidi on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Sam Pocker delivers an easy to read, enlightening, eye opening, and humorous look into the way Americans shop, the experiences all of us have had at one time or another with bad customer service, and an interesting look into what I like to call "hard core" coupon shoppers, of which I would like to consider myself a part of that group. Hard core meaning we dumpster dive for coupons, take road trips across state lines for money making deals, get so much free stuff that we don't know what to do with it and cupboards, closets, drawers, garages and attics start to look like a grocery store threw up in our homes.

This is the first book in a long long time that had me laughing out-loud and forced to read aloud passages that were just too funny to keep to myself to my uninterested husband, who eventually told me to knock it off and go in another room...well guess who ended up going upstairs to watch TV? Him, not me.

In the beginning of the book Sam tells us that the book will read much like a blog, and he is correct. I was a tad bit disappointed in that part, but once I got into the meat of the book, I took it for what it was worth and was able to follow along pretty well and the blog style of writing did not bother me too much in the end.

My only question is why could I not have been one of the lucky unexpected shoppers to find Sam and his fiances shopping carts of Kikkoman teriyaki sauce that was left behind because it was a money maker but no room in the car? Man, my family loves that stuff!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Sluder on May 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Although I never found myself as angry at the book as Pocker claims a reader will get, it did start off on a sour note for me. As a marketing professional, his sharp criticism of marketing as being this evil entity rubbed me the wrong way and felt lacking in a complete picture. But as I pushed on and got into the rhythm of the book, the missing pieces I was looking for came together - lack of critical thinking, herd mentality, taking in everything at face value, being a passive participant in our own consumerism, general mis-education of our youth that leaves them uninspired and unmotivated... these are all things our society is guilty of. It feeds a vicious cycle that is not just bad for individuals and communities but is bad for our economy and our environment.

Pocker offers his solution to these issues (which may or may not be right for you), and his points are all well taken. and ultimately, he achieves what he tells you is his purpose from the start... to make you think differently about what you buy and how you buy it. I found myself reading the ads on the subway differently, double checking my receipts before leaving stores (only to find that the second time I did so - at Whole Foods - they had rung up two identical items with two different prices - one as marked, and one $0.61 higher!), signing up for a pharmacy frequent shopper card to take advantage of 1/2 price vitamins even though I'm not thru the ones I have now (I'll get there eventually, and they don't go bad anytime soon), and even (gasp) clipping a few coupons. All left me with a sense of empowerment, and, frankly a sense of fun as well.
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Format: Paperback
Retail Anarchy is an easy read that makes you feel like you are listening to road trip stories over a cup of coffee with the author. I swear I've had some of these same experiences while in college but it didn't involve coupons and pudding.

Sam Pocker makes you laugh when he writes about shoppers/consumers and you soon realize, "Hey, I've done that. Boy that was stupid."

After reading Sam's book, you'll be a more informed shopper that looks at purchasing/consuming from a totally different perspective.

Read Retail Anarchy and find out what NASCAR, a Funkadelic concert, pudding, CVS, Target, and coupons have in common.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Retail Anarchy? More like full scale Retail Guerrilla Warfare! Sam Pocker, "stand-up economist," is an angry man. At least that's his shtick. Channeling Sam Kinnison and Don Rickles, he rants and insults his way through the shopping mall. I started Retail Anarchy looking forward to a James Twitchell or Paco Underhill-type examination of consumer culture. But after a few chapters of vitriol, I put the book on the donation pile. Sometime that night, I woke up thinking "What did he say about laundering Disney dollars?" The lure of a scam, especially a legal one, made me retrieve the book and try again.

When Pocker is talking about the mechanics of getting a deal, even a steal, he's good. But you'll have to wade through his comedy routines and pet peeves and irrelevant interludes into the history of funk, rock, and doo-wop. He excuses the disorganized nature of his book on the fact that he intends it for people who rarely read books. I don't understand that logic, but then, I read a lot of books so I am not his target audience. And yet I still managed to learn a lot about couponing, refunding, and rebates.

I enjoyed Pocker's explanations of scoring carloads of bottled teriyaki sauce, kitty litter, and Sunny Delight. Often, he actually makes money by buying in bulk. A combination of coupons, a store sale, and refunds can mean he gets cash back for buying a freezer load of frozen waffles. When he can't use a product, he donates to the local food banks and homeless shelters. And there's nothing shady about what he's doing -- for the most part, he's just taking advantage of the sales and deals the stores or manufacturers are offering to get people to try their products. He just does it on a larger scale than most people do.
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