Friday, May 04, 2012

Some Still Don't Get It

First, the bad news.

Some North Coast Merchants are just never going to smarten up. Hasn't anyone told them there's an Internet out there?

Once again, I did my damndest to "shop local." I had a small everyday electrical part - a three-pronged rocker switch, as I found out later - that had shorted out and needed to be replaced. It's not an unusual, or even uncommon, item. 

I went from pillar to post, schlepping to several places around Astoria and Warrenton. Nobody had it, and no one offered to order it for me. I didn't ask them to, but I was surprised no one even thought to offer.

Anyway, I finally found a place that had something close, but it had two prongs instead of three, and was told that I would have to figure out which wire went to which prong. I explained it was a snap-in switch, and there were no wires involved. It's plug-in-and-go kinda thing.

No, thanks, I wanted the right part. The guy explained that if I couldn't find one, I could come back for that one, and it would cost $11.95.

In total frustration, and knowing nothing about electrical parts, I finally gave up and went to the Internet. It took me an hour to find the right thing (it was an "I don't know what to call this damn thing" issue), but find it, I did.

The part is $1.99. Each. So I ordered four of them, and with shipping, my grand total was $11.91.

Once again, it goes to show, most local merchants are just plain clueless. What the hell are they going to do when their aging-out non-computer-friendly Internet-ignorant customer base goes to that great showroom in the sky? 

And now, the good news.

As always, I'm enthralled with Columbia Fruit and Produce, who not only have great prices and wonderful fresh goodies, they are even on Facebook, and they regularly post the specials of the week. Now that's forward thinking. I'm a big fan. Bravo!

A little while ago, the heater/air conditioner switch on my car was down to one working speed. And, the tailpipe was leaking after an unfortunate venture to Radar Hill (which also caused a flat tire at the top of the hill, but that's another saga for another day). 

In fear of getting flayed by a local merchant, I was hesitant to take the car anywhere in the area for repairs. But I finally gave in and took it to Putnam Pro Lube in Warrenton for an estimate. I sat in the waiting room gritting my teeth.

I thought I was hearing things when I was told it would be $100 to fix both. The tailpipe welding was no big deal, but the heater part was a computer chip. I was delighted, and happily coughed up the dough. Thank you Putnam Pro Lube!

I'd sure like to see more merchants around here like these two.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

They Just Don't Get It

There are two words several North Coast merchants/restaurant owners apparently have never heard of: discretionary income. For those who appear to be clueless, a simple explanation is: Whatever money the consumer (your potential customer) has left over to have fun with after buying food and gas and paying bills and taxes. In other words, not much.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have cut way back on my discretionary spending. I call it my Austerity Program. We don't go out at all any more unless it's on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, for one thing. No fast food. No dinners out. Just a few beers (or sodas for him) to get out and socialize. And that's it.

I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one around here who's on an Austerity Program, either.

Yet instead of encouraging us to come back, I've noticed that several places have actually raised their prices on both draft beer (where they already make a several hundred percent profit) and food recently. It's like they're thumbing their noses at their faithful customers, who are finding it ever-harder to be faithful.

Call me pissy, but I strongly feel like I'm being kicked while I'm down. I can barely afford to go to these places anyway (and I'm not talking the chi-chi over-priced tourist traps, either, these are purely blue-collar "local" joints), and they're making me want to just stay home. I'd rather glue myself to my chair than bend over for the price of a draft beer.

OK, that's the end of my food/beer rant. 

Onward to the next one. I needed a certain item, which I'll call a whatsit. I could easily order 2 whatsits online for $3.50, including shipping. But I thought, "What the hell, I'll give a local merchant a shot." Yup, they did, indeed, have a whatsit. For $5 each. 

I turned to the salesgirl and said, "Have you ever heard of the Internet?" and explained that while I'd like to shop local, why the hell would I pay more than double to do so? I don't have money to waste. So I went home and bought 10 whatsits for $16 online, including shipping, and was a very happy camper.

OK, I know the local merchants have to mark up, and have overhead, etc. I get that part. But they should be smart enough to know they have steep competition online, and price accordingly. If there had been a reasonable markup, I might have bought the whatsit downtown. I just don't like being gouged.

On the good side ...

Then there are places like Columbia Produce. Hallelujah and pass the artichokes. They are fabulous, and their prices are always fair. Too bad they don't sell beer on tap and whatsits. 

Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site