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Working in Discount Stores

December 15, 1991

Leslie Powell's nights in a Pic 'N' Save warehouse seem to have taught her little about how discount merchandising works ("A Visit With the Folks Who Pay for Your Bargains," Commentary, Nov. 26).

My husband is a wholesale supplier of the "soft goods" she defines as "tawdry clothes sewn in Third World sweatshops." On the contrary, most of the garments we sell to Pic 'N' Save and other discount outlets are high-quality goods produced right here in Los Angeles by subcontractors employing hard-working refugees from those Third World countries. Most of the folks who man the warehouses, I'm happy to say, also behave quite differently from the "hung-over or late or slow-moving" dregs she describes.

Their integrity is important to us because, despite the impression Powell gives, shortfalls in warehouse are not paid for by "princes of this business," but by the shipper. Any garment pocketed by a dishonest employee is charged against the not-so-princely profit of 5 or 10 cents per garment for which my husband works 60 or 70 hours a week. No "capitalist's dream" perhaps, but "these brimful shelves" mean that a small per-item profit multiplied by a large volume of total sales equals a break for the consumer and a decent living for those risking their capital to supply them.

EVELYN LAGER

Los Angeles

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