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The illusion

As you read this, you might find yourself wondering what chicken and woodworking have in common. So rest assured that it will become clear in a moment.

The other day I was buying some fish. I was waiting for the guy to wrap it up and, being a person who is both nosey and easily bored, I wandered over to watch another guy wrapping up chicken. The store I was in is one of several locations of an upscale regional grocery store chain. They are making a big effort to present quality foods and this is reflected in their somewhat higher prices. One of the things they stock is air-chilled chicken, presented as a premium product.

As I was watching this guy, I noticed that the boxes he was taking the chicken from had a very generic appearance. I have seen boxes like this before, flat brown cardboard with plain looking labels that have everything spelled out backwards. When I took a closer look, I saw that these boxes were from a well-known national vendor, the name of which is seen on inexpensive factory raised chicken in every grocery store in the country.

I was shocked. Here was this guy, working in a store that is trying to convince me that they are concerned about providing me with a premium product and all they are doing is repackaging the same stuff I could buy for half that price at any big chain grocery store.

OK, remember I promised that this would relate to woodworking? Well, it occurred to me that this deception is not limited to chicken. We see the same thing with cabinetry and furniture. It's kind of like when people started saying that they did not want their stuff made out of particleboard. So we changed the name to MDF, coated it with plastic and called it melamine. Then we could reassure our customers that they were not getting particleboard.

Look up the definition of “wood solids” or “natural” and you will see that we have, simply by altering the meaning of terms, created a business environment that is almost completely based on deception. The problem is that people are starting to get wise.


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The reality is …

Many times, I have heard people say how much they love woodworking. Some were thinking of starting a woodworking business so that they could make a living doing what they love.