Markets in everything the packing culture that is New York

by on May 26, 2014 at 6:37 am in Economics, Travel | Permalink

The division of labor is indeed limited by the extent of the market:

New York City mommies with money to burn are hiring professional organizers to pack their kids’ trunks for summer camp — because their darlings can’t live without their 1,000-thread-count sheets.

Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants says she and other high-paid neat freaks have been inundated with requests — and the job is no small feat.

It takes three to four hours to pack for clients who demand that she fit all of the comforts of home in the luggage, including delicate touches like French-milled soaps and scented candles.

At $250 an hour, the cost for a well-packed kid can run $1,000.

There is more here, via the excellent Mark Thorson.

Ray Lopez May 26, 2014 at 7:00 am

Something about opportunity cost comes to mind. And you can’t expect a trophy wife to do packing or cooking. Giving birth by Caesarian and heavily medicated was probably the limits of her abilities.

Cliff May 26, 2014 at 11:30 am

I hope she was heavily medicated while her Caesarian was being performed.

Tracy W May 28, 2014 at 5:17 am

If you go in to have a dental operation, do they say “okay, let’s see how much pain you can take, and if you’re struggling, you can have painkillers” or do they offer you painkillers until you don’t feel any pain?

I have no objections to anyone wanting to go through the full pain of childbirth, but skipping said pain as much as possible strikes me as entirely sensible. (Me, I’ve done two forceps deliveries, one without much pain relief because low platelet levels meant I couldn’t have an epidural, one with an epidural. The latter was much much better).

dan1111 May 26, 2014 at 7:05 am

I’m not surprised that someone would pay for their kid’s bags to be packed, but surely everyone in this class has regular help. I am surprised that an outside individual would be called in just for this task, when it requires intimate knowledge of the kid, what they like, etc.–and no other real skills.

I’m guessing this happened once or twice and is now a “trend”. Of course the professional packers claim they have lots of orders–but it is in their interest to convince people that this is the cool thing to do, and you aren’t a lone weirdo outlier if you pay $1000 for someone to pack a bag.

F. Lynx Pardinus May 26, 2014 at 7:20 am

“I’m guessing this happened once or twice and is now a ‘trend’”

Usually, it’s the NY Times that famously runs these sort of pieces. I think their most recent was “The Monocle Returns as a Fashion Accessory” from March.

Just Another MR Commodore May 26, 2014 at 7:58 am

The Monocle is back?! High time I say!

Chris S May 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Nicely played. This one was so well tee’d up I’m calling sock puppetry with 67% confidence.

Mr. Peanut May 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

About f*&king time!

dearieme May 26, 2014 at 7:07 am

We used to send our daughter to a Sports Camp in the summer, in the Perthshire highlands. Amongst other things they taught her to shoot. It’s just as well because our back garden isn’t big enough for shooting lessons and anyway I sold my rifle years ago.

anon May 26, 2014 at 9:18 am

I sold my rifle years ago.

shotguns are much better for defensive use.

Just Another MR Commodore May 26, 2014 at 9:25 am

What the devil are you talking about? I believe the proper use of the household firearm is in the fox hunt. I wasn’t aware that common farm hands from the West Midlands were suddenly allowed here.

So Much For Subtlety May 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Oh. My. God. The plebs they allow into the military these days.

The only, the unique, acceptable way to kill a fox is with hounds. Guns should never ever be used.

Hasdrubal May 27, 2014 at 1:52 pm

We’re living in the modern age, no reason the ladies shouldn’t come along on our safaris and comport themselves appropriately. Just need to add a couple more porters to provide for the appropriate camping gear. And a professional packer to repack every time we move camp, naturally.

freethinker May 26, 2014 at 7:14 am

I wonder who will repack the stuff the spoiled brats when camp is over?

Yancey Ward May 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm

It is collected and donated to the poor.

Edward Burke May 26, 2014 at 7:59 am

New Yorkers are all so well-adjusted, their neurotic psychotherapists continually assure and reassure us and them.

To then reflect on just how influential New York is, Americans who get their news and entertainment delivered courtesy of NY venues all stand to become equally well-adjusted.

Then again, this could be but another symptom of cosmopolitan provincialism . . . .

F. Lynx Pardinus May 26, 2014 at 8:13 am

It’s just clickbait journalism, which apparently worked on all of us. Don’t read so much into it. :-)

Jan May 26, 2014 at 8:18 am

Please do not moan about this being a signal of rich people getting richer. There have always been professional camp packers in New York because there has always been a very large group wealthy enough to support a thriving market. The data prove that.

Das May 26, 2014 at 8:27 am

I’m not one to bash on the 1%, but the 1% of the 1% show us, that something is just not right in our age.

derek May 27, 2014 at 12:44 am

According to this article, these fools have been relieved of $1k for packing a suitcase. I call that the beginnings of universal justice.

Gordon Gekko May 27, 2014 at 10:41 am

The wonder is how a fool and his money get together in the first place.

aaron May 27, 2014 at 8:27 am

I’d say the 1% of the 1% paying $1,000 to a packing consultant is a step in the right direction from having their indentured servants do it.

Hasdrubal May 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Indeed. In the previous age, the packer would have been on staff and paid far less than a professional’s wage.

Chris S May 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Come on, think of all the thriving professional camp packers – then spending their money on restaurants, packing lessons, consumer electronics – stimulating the economy.

What would happen to all of these people with very niche skills if the richies started to pack their kids themselves? Or the camps started to provide these luxuries themselves? Velocity of money at work.

And what about comparative advantage? Isn’t Hedge Fund Dad better off earning $40,000 shorting Tesla (or something) with that time? Or Charity Sponsor Mom raising $35,000 for Save the English Fox society?

Rob May 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

Wankers.

Michael May 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

While it’s another case of more money than sense, how can a neat freak possibly live in NYC, one of the filthiest cities on Earth?

Just Another MR Commentor May 26, 2014 at 9:26 am

Let me guess the last time you were in NYC was the Ford administration?

Michael May 26, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I own a co-op on the UES actually.

athEIst May 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

NY DAILY NEWS: (circa 1975)
FORD TO NEW YORK
“DROP DEAD”
Ha Ha

Johnnyz May 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

You mean the Ford fiasco.
Carter cabal
Reagan regime
Bush junta1
Clinton clique
etc.

Anonymous May 26, 2014 at 9:43 am

I’m surprised that the children of these rich people even go to summer camps. Are there special summer camps for privileged children or are they forced to interact with common rabble?

F. Lynx Pardinus May 26, 2014 at 10:26 am

Wednesday: “You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, ‘Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller.’”

athEIst May 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Check the prices for these “camps”. No common rabble there.

leftistconservative May 26, 2014 at 10:22 am

well, la di da, isn’t this the absolutely perfect tyler cowen sort of trendsucking news “story”?

Donald Pretari May 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I need to point out that a couple of these “kids” are in their twenties.

Anthony May 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Personally, I approve of this trend. When there are that many people with that many more dollars than sense, being able to make a middle-class or better living by preying on the neuroses of the rich serves a variety of useful social functions.

Donald A. Colffin May 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

This is the most recent entry in a file of things I call “This Country Is Entirely Too Rich,” or, perhaps in a nod to Piketty, “This Country Has Entirely Too Many Rich People.”

Fortunately, these items also suggest that the rich among us are not as wise as one might have expected.

wiki May 27, 2014 at 3:10 am

I don’t know why these articles get people so bent out of shape. Frankly, I think all NYC rich should spend at least $1000 on packing, $1000 for each food server, $1000 to have specialist car parkers, cooks, barbers, etc. I call this sort of extravagance, “voluntary redistribution.” It’s better than Piketty’s solutions.

freethinker May 27, 2014 at 6:35 am

the moms want the camp site to resemble their kids’ bedrooms as much as possible . why go to camping at all?

todd May 27, 2014 at 8:57 am

Several commenters have used the phrase “more dollars than sense.” I assume that phrase is used by the poor so they don’t feel so bad about their lowly station in life?

Albigensian May 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Brings to mind the old saying that there’s no one quite as helpless as a rich kid.

How are such pampered darlings going to do when they grow up and have to make their own way in the world?

Todd May 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Based on the data we have on intergenerational income mobility – they will do quite well.

Chris S May 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Until the third generation.

The first generation builds the fortune. The second is born into wealth but is cajoled by their parents to work reasonably hard, and has access to the parents’ connections.

However, the second generation does not know how to pass even these modest skills on, so the third generation loses all the money.


Indeed, research shows that family money rarely survives the transfer for long, with 70 percent evaporated by the end of the second generation. By the end of the third? Ninety percent.

How can you argue with “research shows”??
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324662404578334663271139552

Brian Donohue May 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

Heh. I was thinking of Vonnegut’s “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Didn’t know there was empirical support.

gab May 28, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Why all the scorn? Aren’t we all supposed to aspire to be able to afford packers for our children?

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