Remember how during the go-go ’90s and up until around the middle of 2007 everyone had a ridiculously ostentatious gold-plated toilet and pajamas made out of baby llama fur? Yes, that was excessive and a little bit gross but it also spoke to our economic might, our bulging disposable incomes and our general sense of not-in-a-recession-ness. Then came the dark days when we could no longer afford crocodile-skin spatulas.
But those days are apparently over! Once again it is possible to drop almost $2,000 on a sterling-silver razor, a stand for the blade and a brush. Not only is it possible — plenty of people are doing it! That item, available at chain store The Art of Shaving, helped the retailer post a 19% revenue gain for the final quarter of 2009. Okay, in fairness, it wasn’t really the sterling shaver that accounted for the sales jump — the store only sold a few of them during the holidays — the $175 model moved more briskly off the shelves. But I think the point stands.
If you are dubious that this is a fair gauge of economic recovery, you are likely not alone. Still, consider this: last summer Procter & Gamble saw so much promise in The Art of Shaving they snapped the retailer up for an unannounced amount. P&G of course manufactures, among many, many other things, Gillette shaving products, so you can see how the new business fits into its portfolio. During the worst days of the recession even monolithic establishments like P&G were keeping a tight grip on the cash and loath to make new acquisitions. So say what you will about llama-fur pajamas and croc-skin spatulas, but their belief in the future of three-figure razors looks like a certain kind of good economic news.