10 Questions for Michael Silverstein

The author of Trading Up and, more recently, Treasure Hunt talks to TIME's Kate Betts about how consumers squeeze a deal out of every dollar

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR TREASURE HUNT?

After Trading Up, I talked to a lot of people about new luxury, and consumers—mostly women—would say, "You only got half the story. You got the trade-up part, but in order for me to afford to trade up, I cut corners." They would tell me stories about particular treasures that they had found. So the book became a demonstration of the fact that the middle-class consumer is actually saving money.

BUT ACCORDING TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, THAT CONSUMER IS IN DEBT.

Here's how the numbers are wrong. Every time you spend money against your...

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