Sunday, 2 February 2014

Creative Destruction

From the Guardian

There's a fear that Cash's is about to join such names as Woolworths and Blockbuster on the great commercial scrapheap of the recession years. Cash's, that is, as in the humble nametape – as sewn for generations by loving mothers, and even occasionally loving fathers, into the clothes that their children take to school and will otherwise reliably lose, thus causing households to ring with the anguished cry "But this jumper is Veronica's!"

The company has not been the only maker of nametapes, yet somehow Cash and nametapes go together like Sloan and liniment or Robinson and barley water. But the triumph of the marker pen has made nametapes look like a 19th-century technology.

So why "fear"? We've decided that we like marker pens better than name tapes, and the suppliers of name tapes go to the wall. I sympathise with the plight of the employees, but what are we going to do? Keep them employed making tape that no-one wants? (actually, we prefer name tapes in our house, but we're not sustaining them).

People often write about companies hit by recession, but in a lot of cases, the recession was just the thing that tipped them over. Blockbuster was always going to go to the wall because streaming rentals are just more sensible than people driving to a store to collect and return movies. As a frequent customer years ago, I don't miss it.


Mark Wadsworth said...

My wife is a bit of a snob and got a job load of name tapes years ago, but luckily our children's names haven't changed so she can use up the old supply.

The Stigler said...


They do look better than marker pen.

It's also worth considering that compared to our mother's generation, a lot of women don't have sewing skills.

Bayard said...

TS, I never knew you and Mark were brothers!

Name tapes have the added advantage that they can be used as hanging loops.

The Stigler said...


haha. Very good.

DBC Reed said...

Cash's name tapes went legendary when one was found on George Mallory's shirt on Everest when they discovered his body.As a full-on romantic who believes Mallory and Irvine summitted and fell on the way down (there's evidence for this)Cash's name tapes have a kind of doomed resonance that it is imperishable.
Fuck creative destruction: just a polite term for asset stripping(knocking down factories producing useful clobber and selling the land for luxury i.e.very small houses).Its destructive alright but all that comes out of it in England is, as usual, overpriced land. So its not really creative.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, how much land and buildings do you need for making name tapes?

Not much, can be done anywhere in the country where you can find a few dozen reasonably skilled operatives, it's not time-sensitive or anything, you order online or by mail order or in the shop, pick 'em up or get 'em posted a week later and that's you sorted for the rest of your child's school career.

And 'creative destruction' cuts both ways - when people whine that LVT would topple their 'business empires', the answer is 'those [land] assets are now being put to better use, i.e. by somebody prepared to pay for it'.

The Stigler said...


There's probably some businesses that would be retained with LVT - a business in Sunderland would have lower taxes due to LVT instead of income tax, for instance.

But with Blockbuster, LVT would have probably have accelerated their decline - you can put video streaming servers anywhere.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS; "There's probably some businesses that would be retained with LVT..."

Hostage to fortune there! The point is that there would be more business activity and employment overall.

Yes, LVT will speed up what is already happening, but that is A Good Thing (or certainly no worse than things happening s-l-o-w-l-y).

The Stigler said...


I agree. To clarify: I'm not in favour of distorting commerce in any way, just removing the current distortions from taxing productive work.

e.g. with LVT we'd probably see call centres in Sunderland rather than India.

H said...

NB - I have no financial interest whatsoever in these people.

We have bought a number of things from Woven Labels UK, based in Pembrokeshire, and have been perfectly pleased. All done on-line.

So no need to fret just yet.