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Opinion: Column: Off Topic, Way Off
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Opinion: Column: Off Topic, Way Off

From cancer to toilet paper. Is that "off" enough? My reason for writing this column might be because I need a diversion (see last week's column), and because, as it so happened recently, I needed to replenish our toilet paper supply. (It had nothing to do with a winter advisory in the forecast.) As the consumer in the house, I am keen and motivated to spend our money wisely. I look for sales, I use paper coupons, I use digital coupons, and of course, I peruse the advertising circulars, in print and online (if necessary) regularly. In addition, I have a number of plastic bonus cards hanging on my keychain. In short, I am prepared and ready for any retail or wholesale opportunity that might present itself.

With respect to toilet paper, I believe us regular users have been victimized by the toilet paper manufacturers. I refer specifically to the increase in the size of the actual roll itself: from single to double to triple to jumbo to mega and now super mega. Since the manufacturers can't exactly increase demand, they've devised a strategy to increase supply – in our homes. And though using myself as an example is hardly empirical evidence, I will nonetheless continue to do so in an effort to justify my accusation.

If you're like me, you probably like to have an ample supply of toilet paper in the house, just in case (it happened once in college; not good). And to that end, the toilet paper manufacturers have offered up multipacks equivalent to as high as 96 rolls, if I'm not mistaken, to address this potential shortage. However, my beef is not with the number of rolls in these multipacks; my beef, as I've said, is with the size of the rolls. In these cases, size does matter.

For years, we've been buying 4-, 6-, 9-, 12-, 24-, 36- and even 48-roll multipacks, some single and some double, to stock the bathroom linen closets, so we're used to having a specific number of rolls on hand/in inventory. Now, the rolls are double or even triple the size we had grown accustomed to having as back-ups. But we're still, in spite of the gargantuan size of the newer mega/super mega rolls, wanting to have the same number of rolls in the closet as we've always had (I do, anyway). Sort of a comfort level, you might say. The problem is that having the same number of super mega rolls in inventory as previously one had as single or double rolls gives one way more toilet paper in the house than you ever had. In effect, we have over-purchased. The toilet paper manufacturers have used our predispositions against us in order to take a greater share of our household budget previously allocated for toilet paper.

I don't need six super mega rolls in our bathroom. But I do want to see at least six rolls in reserve (aid and comfort, you might say). If the six rolls in reserve were single or doubles, their size would be irrelevant. The number of rolls was more important – in my head. And now, because of the toilet paper manufacturer's insistence that size matters, I am forced to buy these spare-tire, donut-sized rolls that I can't possibly use no matter what "snowmageddon" might hit us. But I can't stock my shelves with reasonably-sized rolls, because their unit cost is prohibitive compared to the big roll multipacks. As the consumer I am, I am loathe to overpay for such household necessities. So I buy in bulk, stuff my shelves with ply and go about my business. I just wish I had more than a hand in their decision-making.