The Millionaire Next Door

Dress for Success; Shop at Wal-Mart!

Last month a picture of Jim Harbaugh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, appeared in USA Today.  But the picture was not taken on a football field.  Coach Harbaugh was standing in front of a rack of blue jeans and khaki pants in a Wal-Mart store.  In his hands he was holding packages of underwear and khakis.  Immediately following the revelation that this coach patronizes Wal-Mart for selected apparel, sports talk shows throughout America had much to say on the subject.  Comments from both professional broadcasters and callers ranged from incredulous to critical. 
“Why would a multimillion dollar producing coach purchase his khaki pants at Wal-Mart?” “He must be an outlier.” “The guy’s a freak.” 

On the contrary Mr. Harbaugh, I would speculate, is a lot more interested in preparing his team to win than he is in where he shops for clothes.  And he is not the only socioeconomically successful person who purchases apparel from stores that no one would classify as “upscale.”  When asked about the stores they patronize for suits, dresses, shirts, blouses, ties, scarves, coats and/or “for dress”/”for work” shoes,  millionaires nationwide indicated “yes” to the following: Costco (22.0%); J.C. Penney (14.5%); Kohl’s (21.7%); Marshall’s (14.2%); Gap (17.3%); Sam’s Club (12.3%); Sears (11.4%); TJ Maxx (16.7%); Target (23.4%), and Wal-Mart (15.4%).  In terms of deca millionaires (those with $10M or more) 10.3% purchased apparel at Wal-Mart.

Why is it that most people in America are not as wealthy as they should be?   I have found that one of the main reasons is that they spend too much time and other resources on shopping and appearances and not enough time and effort on becoming a socioeconomic success like Mr. Harbaugh. 

4 thoughts on “Dress for Success; Shop at Wal-Mart!”

  1. While I agree with the premise of paying less for clothes, I don’t agree with the principles that you should ONLY pay the cheapest price possible for clothing and save money without taking into account the whole picture of what these clothes cost society and the environment.

    That’s not to say that he goes crazy buying khaki pants every day or has a huge wardrobe, but this prevalence of cheap, fast fashion from sweatshops, ruining the environment with their horrible chemicals, dyes, and coming from a low-moral-and-ethics country without any regulation like China, doesn’t sit right with me.

    I’d rather be poorer and wear clothes of a decent make from a decent manufacturer than to be rich and screwing over society and our environment as a result.

    The best path is to buy secondhand, buy less and to buy higher quality when possible.

  2. Great post Dr. Stanley. If people would only see what they are doing to themselves and their future needs. Just this morning I was politely told by a lady in the hallway that my outfit looked “crisp” today – that outfit consisted of my Costco shirt and pants!

  3. I suspect that because Jim Harbaugh buys clothes at Wal-Mart he is not a clothes horse and thus probably much less a drain on the environment than those that are conspicuous consumers. So although you have some valid points I suspect he is less guilty than most of the sins you ascribe to him.

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