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July 6, 2014

An Adventure in Bath Towels

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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When was the last time YOU went shopping for bath towels? I would venture a guess that it’s not something you even think about. I certainly didn’t, until I stopped one day and looked at mine.

Then I started doing the math… the last time I bought bath towels was 2002 – that’s over ten years ago! I just didn’t think about it… Is this a bad time to use the excuse, how time flies? Or fall back on the fact that I’m a man? I know, I’m reaching… stay with me…

SO, bath towel shopping. Who knew it would be an ordeal. But, like everything we shop for these days, the choices and options are endless. Let me lay it out for you…

The first place I went was Bed Bath & Beyond. A little too obvious, but, a good place to start. I also went to Target, Macy’s and Bloomingdales and Home Goods.

Bed Bath & Beyond: BBB has a lot of towel brands from which to choose. They also represent an extremely wide range of prices – the cheapest of which is still not that cheap in price or quality. I ended up buying Wamsutta towels because they were moderately priced, good quality and had the widest range of colors. B

Bloomingdales: I don’t think I need to say this, but, price is the biggest factor here. I went to Bloomingdale’s because many years ago, I had a friend who bought me a set of towels because he and his wife thought they were the best towels they’d ever come across. They are nice towels – the colors are some of the most unique I’ve seen, but, the cost makes them prohibitive in comparison to others. I found other towels just as good for less. I did not buy more Bloomingdale’s towels. B+

Target: Big box store. The expectation is that you get lesser quality but much better prices. Don’t be fooled. Target now has designers battling to get their products on their shelves and designers do embrace retail mark-up based on name recognition. Don’t be fooled.

I ended up buying Nate Berkus Towels. They were on sale, so I did get a good deal, but, because Nate Berkus’ name is on them, they are the more high priced towels. And it shows in the quality. Thomas O’Brien towels are the same. There are other Target branded towels and off-brand towels that were a better price, but, lesser quality. A

Macy’s: Macy’s towel section is probably the closest to being a combination of everywhere I went. Lots of towels, lots of colors, none that cheap; Designers, off-brands, store brands. A lot to sift through and everything on some version of a sale. I lucked out and got Martha Stewart towels for this combination of discounts because I have a Macy’s card? Whatever. They were really cheap and decent quality, so, I bought them! Caveat: There are different levels of Martha Stewart quality towels and the price is the determining factor. I opted for the ones that were less expensive because most of Martha Stewarts products start at pretty good quality and work their way up. B-

Home Goods: The towels I’m replacing are Ralph Lauren towels I bought from Home Goods. I got my money’s worth. So naturally, I had to go back to the place where I bought those. But, I’ve given Ralph Lauren enough of my money, so, I decided to consider everything BUT RL.

Home Goods has mostly designer towels and some off-brand towels. This is where your selections will be most hit or miss. There are factory seconds as well and the prices reflect it. I ended up buying Lacoste towels. Yes they were the most expensive there, but, in comparison, they were also the best quality. A+

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But, as you can see, I do my research. What did I learn from this exercise? I tend to cheap out in the more high-end stores and choose not to skimp in the cheap stores.

My two favorite sets of towels are the Lacoste towels I bought from Home Goods and the Nate Berkus towels I bought from Target. For quality, they’re the best. And look where I bought them…

The Martha Stewart towels don’t feel quite as good, but I got such a good deal on them, I feel like its a win-win. Same with the Wamsutta towels. But, nothing I bought is less than a B-.

Net-Net: I now have decent towels and if I have guests, I have creature comforts for them. Now I just need to get one of those heated towel bars and my bathroom will be like a spa…