In which we conduct a little scientific experiment—on tape, with hidden microphones—about whether niceness pays. We wire two waitresses with hidden microphones.
Katie Davis tells the story of one storefront in her bustling commercial neighborhood that resists all occupation. Over the decades, many businesses have tried to operate there, none have succeeded.
You can't do a program about middlemen without a story about business. In this act, we hear from a man who made his living buying low and selling high...incredibly high, sometimes at mark-ups of up to 1,000 percent.
Host Ira Glass talks with Marion Tanios, a classified section editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She explains that if the news section of the newspaper gives you the public life of a city, the classified section gives you a sense of people's personal lives.
The classifieds are populated by people in flux. People selling stuff from old lives in transition new ones.
Jen's mom Sheila does things like this: She buys a brand name at a discount store, and then returns it to a fancy store for a full refund. She thinks you're a sucker if you don't take advantage of opportunities like that.
Rarely when we're suckered do we get a chance at revenge, and that turns out to be a good thing. Writer Shane DuBow tells the story of a scam he fell for when he was just out of college.
Ali Davis literally hands people their fantasies, in her job at a Chicago video store with a huge porn section. She tells true stories about what the job is like.
We hear clips from the recent press conference with Charlotte Beers, recently appointed Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy. Part of her job is, in her words, to sell the "brand America" abroad.
Host Ira Glass speaks with two people who believe they've uncovered behind-the-scenes conspiracies but can't be sure. Attorney Andy Hail has sued the two biggest supermarkets in Chicago (Dominick's and Jewel) because they charge a dollar more for milk than stores around the country, and because their prices seem to change simultaneously, as if orchestrated.
We hear the first part of our story about Archer Daniels Midland and FBI informant Mark Whitacre. In this half, Whitacre inadvertently ends up a cooperating witness—and turns himself into one of the best cooperating witnesses in the history of U.S. law enforcement, gathering evidence with an adeptness few have matched.
Our story about ADM and Mark Whitacre continues. The FBI finds out that their star cooperating witness Mark Whitacre has been lying to them for three years about some rather serious matters.
There's a TV ad so popular in Canada right now that people chant it in bars, stand and cheer it in theaters and at hockey stadiums. The ad taps into our desire to be part of a mob...and provides a safe way to do it, without fear.
Producer Julie Snyder looks at what happens in one poor Chicago neighborhood when the community begins to undergo a revitalization and a new store comes to town.
What do cats want to see on television? Steve Malarky, creator of the world's best-selling home video for cats, tells all. And—in the interest of equal time—a cashier who works at a chain store that sells pet products rants about the absurdity of the items she's ringing up every day: St.
The story of a company trying an experiment at marketing dolls to little girls:A new kind of doll store near Chicago's Magnificent Mile called "American Girl Place." The company has figured out all the ways little girls love dolls and they're trying to sell to nearly every one of those desires. Susan Burton reports that it's as if they've settled into a perch inside little girl's dreams and are selling from there.
Ira talks with Josh Glenn, editor of Hermenaut, who explains the difference between Good Wacky and Bad Wacky.
Chicago writer Tori Marlan with a man who sold guns to criminals for two years, and what he makes of the experience. Most of the illegal guns on the street were actually purchased legally.
Ira with 19-year-old Claudia Perez at a furniture store in Claudia's Mexican neighborhood.
Ira visits the lottery stand in Chicago that sells more lottery tickets than any other: Hannah's Finer Food & Liquors. There he meets two men who want to get rich quick.
Host Ira Glass goes to one of the epicenters of modern Christmas — the world's biggest toy store — minutes before closing on Christmas Eve. (5 1/2 minutes)
Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York. When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.
David Rakoff tells about his experience playing Sigmund Freud in the window of upscale Barney's department store in Manhattan. For Christmas. This was the first of dozens of appearances on our show by David Rakoff, who died in 2012.
Carmen Delzell on a deal she made with the devil when she turned 30.