In 1690, the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper money in the colonies which would later become the United States. In 1691, QVC (Quality and Value for the Colonies) was created as a way for people to spend the new money they had. Today, QVC (in 1986, the C was changed to stand for Convenience) QVC’s 2013 sales generated 8.6 billion dollars in annual revenues. QVC employs 17,000 people and sells tens of thousands of products a year. They control the governments of several countries and have cornered the market on sales to developing planets.
QVC’s vision is simple: There is no occasion in life that cannot be celebrated by buying something, and QVC is there to provide the items to buy. In the absence of an occasion, there are ordinary days. These ordinary days can be enhanced by buying something. There are also times when we are sick, depressed, or in fear of our lives. These days can be made better by buying something. We may have loved ones who are having a rough time. We can help them out by buying something. Clothing and accessories, jewelry, cookware, home furnishings, computers, gardening supplies, Christmas décor, cosmetics and lotions, hair products, food, candles, cleaning products, and The Cat Sack Toy. Buy them. If they come with an elastic waistband, they are probably offered in 12 colors. Buy them all.
Life in the Boomer Lane discovered QVC in 1999, after she had some pretty darn serious spinal surgery. After eight days in the hospital on morphine, she was sent home on the heaviest prescription meds the pharmaceutical industry had to offer. She spent several weeks living in a recliner, stoned out of her mind, believing a large stuffed lion was her pet. Someone turned the TV on and QVC magically appeared. LBL was mesmerized into an altered state. For three weeks, she watched QVC around the clock (they are on 24/7). Every single item being presented was deemed by LBL to be absolutely necessary to sustain life on earth. She had the phone in one hand and her credit card in the other. She purchased a lot of items that, like the “Hairdini” she got for her daughter, arrived promptly and remained unused.
LBL was especially fascinated to hear all the calls that came in from people who had just purchased whatever item(s) was being sold. The callers were giddy with excitement, eager to share their life stories with the on-air hostesses. They were infirm. They were bedridden. Their husbands were upset that all of their retirement money was going to buy products on QVC. To all of these stories, the hostess’ reply was “I know you are going to love these walking shoes/dog leashes/diamond bracelet/power panel underwear/ musical Christmas sweater/age spot concealer/rototiller/matching luggage.”
It was only after copious amounts of over-the-counter meds were substituted for the happy pills that LBL was able to put some perspective onto her experience. She realized that the troubles of the world are conspicuously absent from the world of QVC. Everything is bright, cheerful, and spankingly clean. It’s a scrubbed and sanitized version of life. It’s Disney World without all those annoying little kids. Or, depending on how much one buys compared to how much one has in the bank, it can be Vegas on a really bad day.
Ever since her three-week love affair with QVC all those years ago, LBL will occasionally tune into a show to bring back that heady feeling of pure joy and comfort. In spite of QVC’s major turn to more youthful presentations and constant references to “runway” fashion, and a focus on ecommerce and high tech sales in the last 10 years, the basic premise remains: Here is a product. Buy it. Buy it now.
In spite of celebrity design lines, much of the clothing QVC sells are still for older purchasers: elastic waistbands, tops that are loose and longer to conceal butts and thighs, and almost all of the tops and blouses have sleeves. On this day, the tops being sold were sleeveless. Just as LBL was wondering how QVC could convince women to go sleeveless after years of selling tops that they boasted were great for covering upper arms, the hostess said the following:
“You know ladies, global warming is here. And the best way to deal with it is to start wearing sleeveless tops!”
You could have knocked LBL over with a feather. In one fell swoop, QVC not only overrode decades of our country’s being unable to take action to combat global warming, but it also dealt with the issue of older women not wanting to wear sleeveless clothing. For a mere $39.99 (or, as the QVC hostesses would say, “thirty-nine dollars and change”), QVC was giving us a way to survive global warming, without losing our sense of style. LBL would have stood up and applauded, had she not had a lap full of pistachio nut shells.
Global warming. Bring it on. LBL has her credit card ready.