Saturday, November 30, 2013

Giving thanks for the memories: the Kosta Boda snowball turns 40

The Kosta Boda snowball: the classiest affordable gift of the 80's

For the benefit of those downunder: last Thursday was Thanksgiving, the day when 'mericans down tools and celebrate the "the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year," according to Wikipedia

It's more like the blessing of the buffet, and generally not a day to bear gifts except for oneself: stores are now opening on the actual day of rest - is nothing sacred? Well, it's good for both public health and the national deficit - get people kick boxing in the aisles of Macy's and thus mitigating the 4pm food coma ... all the while stimulating the economy (or China's economy). 

As an advertising/marketing aficionado I use retail therapy to check out what's going on in the product design and retailing world ... (ok nice try I know). My destination was the fab outlet store TJ Maxx in Wilton, Connecticut where I was visiting for the holidays.  It was pretty empty; TJ's merchandise is always on sale so there's no real reason to make a beeline for it on Black Friday. 

"You're the first customer to acknowledge that," said the bored woman at the jewelry counter as I pondered over a pair of truly fake-gold-looking Ralph Lauren hoop earrings for $12. "Everyone else is demanding why our 70% off stuff isn't 100% off." 

Strolling the aisles of once-were $34 leggings (now $5.99 - damn it I paid $34 last week) I was stopped dead in my tracks by a blob of glass. Know what it is, dear reader? It's the Kosta Boda snowball, circa 1973. As it sat on the shelf amidst marked down artificially scented candles and Turkish serving platters, the memories came thundering down like an Annapurna avalanche ...

In my mid-teens I spotted this iconic candle holder on a shelf in DJ's, the Bloomingdales of Downunder. The price at the time was a captivating $12; captivating for me as I wasn't allowed to have a holiday job, and my meager pocket money felt like my only freedom. So the snowball became my signature gift at any birthday I was invited to; everyone got a snowball whether they liked it or not. 

In terms of mainstream gift giving, Boda was like the Alessi of today - who hasn't given or received a Alessi tchotchke of some description. Another popular gift item were those faceted Swarovski crystal animals I never found particularly appealing.

Looking back on those formative years, the snowball all about my emerging desire to be both individual and classy ... on a shoestring. I calls it Cheap and Choosy .

On Facebooking the above photo an old school pal recalled another example of my pubescent taste making: velour Pierre Cardin facewashers. My father was as into designer labels as the next Asian person (it's my culture and I'll stereotype if I want to) and I became fixated on his gold PC keychain and ties. Somehow I stumbled on the Cardin monogrammed facecloth in DJs and at $5.99, voila, it became my second go-to gift. (Turns out velour is actually a lousy material for facecloths; it gets gummed up with soap scum and has to be machine washed often on hot ...)

Who'd have thought a trip to an outlet mall could spark such cathartic memories? Don't knock retail therapy; at 70% off it's cheaper than a shrink. 

The only thing I didn't score so well on yesterday was price: at $19.99 (down from a vertiginous RRP $35) it was no cheaper than at, where it is on sale and is the company's "best selling item of all time."

Note: For those people fixated on getting one after reading my ode to the snowball, I note there's always a few kicking around on eBay for $10 plus around $7 shipping. 

Happy Thanksgiving - let it snowball, let it snowball, let it snowball!

(Greeting card spotted in supermarket)


Brad Miter said...

My granddaughter was delited with th eKista Boda snowball for her birthday. Thanks for giving us the hint.
Re: Peter and Sue. Peter is retired and Sue keeps plugging ahead.

Lynette Chiang said...

Great Brad! Mine is sitting in front of me now, glimmering away. Make sure she doesn't set the house on fire with it!