Cleans Clothes and Pays for Drugs

New York magazine has a fascinating piece looking at the black market currency power of Tide detergent, which is being stolen from stores all across the nation:

Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: “Liquid gold.”

It’s not just for drugs either—people steal the detergent and sell them to other stores, too. Tide detergent is expensive even for wholesale prices, which means the profit margin is slim.

In general, a retailer clears just a few percentage points on a Tide purchase. A store that charges $19.99 for a 150-ounce bottle might claim $2 in profit. But if it buys stolen bottles for $5, that jumps to $15.

Other things I learned from the story: “the average U.S. consumer buys 68 pieces of clothing a year,” Tide is everyone’s favorite laundry detergent by far, and people are loyal to the brand regardless of what’s happening with the economy.

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

ATF@twitter (#1,471)

I am allergic to Tide, so it’s magic cleaning powers have always been lost on me.

ATF@twitter (#1,471)

@ATF@twitter Holy bad grammar, batman!

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@ATF@twitter Yeah, I went to a dermatologist for a rash a few years ago and his first question was “Do you use Tide?” Apparently it’s pretty irritating.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Derbel McDillet I make my own laundry detergent to save money… but I first started doing so because Tide was giving me a rash (not all the time, but anytime I worked out a lot in freshly-laundered clothes) and I was too lazy to try out other brands.

RosemaryF (#345)

The smell of most laundry detergents give me a headache so I have been forced to use ALL Free. (It works fine, but it is soooooo boring!)

The two worst for triggering headaches are Tide & Gain, by far.

sea ermine (#122)

@RosemaryF Tide has a scent free version as well (I think it is Tide Free and Clear). So does all I believe (I think it’s just All Free). I’m allergic to all scented detergents and soaps and Tide Free hasn’t irritated my skin yet.

Anne (#33)

“Watch out for the detergent bubble (ha!) bursting!” –Someone Who Has a Pallet of Expired Baby Formula

wait: “the average U.S. consumer buys 68 pieces of clothing a year,”
This can’t be right, can it?

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@oatmealshrapnel I read that and assumed they were counting underwear and socks (possibly counting the socks individually, also).

@WaityKatie Ah, that makes more sense.

thatgirl (#1,965)

Total tangent: I live in an apartment without a washer/dryer, and the ones in my complex are INSANELY expensive and also get locked at 10PM, so I do what any reasonable new yorker would do and pay people to pick up my laundry and return it clean the next day.

Can I send my own detergent with my clothes, and request that they use cold water? Will that be a thing they will do, or will they just laugh?

sea ermine (#122)

@thatgirl There is a place near my house that explicitly states they will use any detergent you provide as long as you leave a note. I think most places will be ok with it because not using their own detergent will save them money, but some places will probably be lazy about it an not pay attention. I think just find somewhere reputable, include your own detergent and a little note about it and about the water. If it’s because of an allergy mention that, I find it makes people more careful about the detergent (and if it is because of an allergy put a not asking them to not use any fabric softeners or sprays).

faustbanana (#2,376)

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin all the way! I debate the merits of buying the “big jug” because, while a better value, my neighbors seem to avail themselves of my detergent despite the bold and intimidating “K” written on the cap in permanent marker. Is it worth it to a. buy the smaller jug so I am more inclined to bring it upstairs with me, instead of leaving it in the basement? How do I measure neighbor loss vs. better value for money with big jug? b. How do I stop agonizing about things like this and move forward with my life?

sarrible (#1,545)

@faustbanana I have a big jug that I keep in my apartment and I use it to refill the smaller jug I take with me to the laundromat.

buckachu (#1,686)

I was in the grocery store recently and while i was checking out, the store manager came up and mentioned to my checker that someone had been stealing all the detergent, and that they hadn’t sold any in weeks, but all of their inventory was gone. I didn’t think anything of it, but now it’s relevant! Weird!

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