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I want to support local retail, but prices are insane sometimes

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  • I want to support local retail, but prices are insane sometimes

    Today I stopped at a local plumbing supply shop for a few copper pipe fittings that I actually had in my shopping cart at McMaster-Carr. The prices were not a little more, which I would expect, they were almost twice the price!

    Local: $17.23 M-C: $9.6

    I bought the stuff, I guess walking out would have felt too rude for less than $10, but were I doing a big job it would seriously add up and the choice would be a no brainer. I dunno what the Depot price would be. These guys must survive because the tradesmen buy from them and just pass on the price to customers clueless that they could be saving a lot on materials. I once ordered an electric zone valve online with a bunch of locally unavailable radiant heating stuff, when I didn't need it I returned it to HD and made $30 on the deal. Lord knows what the plumber supply was charging.

    And yeah, the stuff would of had to be shipped, but I needed other stuff anyway, the incremental weight charge is very low.
    Location: Jersey City NJ USA

  • #2
    The local auto parts store was going to charge me $17.98 for a single ball bearing (I needed two of them), I ordered a pack of twenty off of EvilBay for $9.00 including shipping...exact same part number and brand! And it wasn't from some guy who was selling stuff that "fell off a truck"... So, yes, I have a lifetime's supply, possibly a lifetime's supply for my kids...

    David Kaiser
    Montezuma, IA
    David Kaiser
    “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein

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    • #3
      I find McMaster to be outragous expensive for most items, but.. sometimes they are the only place to find what I need. I'm betting that like MSC, Grainers J&L Supply etc, they have great discounts for their volume customers, but I'm not one. Graingers did recently increase my discount to 10% (lol) though...
      Last edited by lakeside53; 09-24-2009, 02:15 AM.

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      • #4
        gellfex,

        did you ask the local place if they had any type of discount or would match MSC's price? Home Depot used to match online prices but add the shipping costs on. many of the local places also have contractor discounts that you won't get unless you're a licensed contractor (or do a large volume of business with them).

        andy b.
        The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining

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        • #5
          andy is right many if not all the electric, plumbing, building supply shops have various prices depending on the volume of purchases. They discourage walk in trade by charging full list price or higher. In the 1960's in Lou. Ky when there were several industrial supply houses that sold machinist supplies I encountered that. I had a friend that worked at one of them and he gave the a preferred customer price . My uncle had an auto repair/speed shop and that is where I found the pricing deal. He started a parts store so he could buy at dealer/wholesaler discount. He never sold much as a wholesaler but he bought a lot at that price level and sold at retail.

          Pricing levels still exist and the more you buy the cheaper it gets.
          It's only ink and paper

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          • #6
            The reason for this is clear. Large stores and large internet sellers have the ability to purchase items in large quantities. Instead of getting the ordinary 50% off, they will get sometimes get 50-10-5-2-1% based on enormous quantities.

            Your typical mom and pop hardware store buys a case or two of this and that and gets only the standard retailer's discount. Thus, the higher prices.

            My point is that it's not necessarily greed but rather the inability to do anything else. It always pays to shop around.


            .

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            • #7
              Combination of all the above and more.

              Yes, the local prices are high. I have the same thing in small town Iowa. Not much competition. If Wal-Mart doesn't sell it, we pay more because they can get away with it.

              But also remember that when you buy local, THEY have already paid shipping charges to your locality. Local hardware and other types of stores typically don't get much of a volume discount because they can't buy tens or hundreds of thousands of an item. More likely they buy just a few or at most a couple of dozen and that would only qualify for the first tier of volume discounts if any at all. In electronics, I buy things like resistors. In hundred thousand volume, a common, small resistor would cost less than one cent. In a local retail store I have seen as high as 25 cents. I commonly buy in 200 lots and pay about two cents each plus shipping. Fair? Well, that's how it works - world wide.

              Local stores have stock in the store. This is not free. If you have money, you want a return on it. You put it in a bank or some other investment and get earnings from it. Suppliers do not stock local stores for free. Local stores have to invest their own money or BORROW money from the bank and pay interest. They either expect a return on their money that is sitting on those shelves or have to pay interest on it to the bank. It costs $$$ to fill the shelves.

              Also, local stores have people on hand who often have some knowledge of the subject and can advise you on your purchases: what is best for your purpose, how to use it, etc. They also handle returns and warranty. Etc. These people cost money and that money has to be come from the items sold. Local stores have fewer purchases than national suppliers like McMaster so their personnel are often idle between purchases. I doubt that the advisors at McMaster are often idle and they probably get calls from a smaller percentage of customers. The efficiency of volume. The small store has to charge more to pay for their employees.

              Another factor is the speed of shopping locally. You can have it in less than an hour in most cases. If you shop from a national supplier in another city, you will be waiting for a day at a minimum and for that you pay extra shipping. I once had to get a part shipped across country immediately - same day. It cost as much or more for shipping (had carried on aircraff, taxi to airport, tip for driver, pickup at airport, long distance calls, etc.) as the item cost.

              There are many factors that contribute to local prices being higher. Most are fair or at least necessary. This is how it works. You, as a customer, have the choice of where to go. You need to know where to go depending on the circumstances of the job.
              Paul A.
              SE Texas

              And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
              You will find that it has discrete steps.

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              • #8
                Caveat Emptor

                'Let the buyer beware', -------------------------yup.

                G

                'WalMart smart??????'
                Last edited by Guido; 09-24-2009, 01:14 PM.

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                • #9
                  I can't believe a thread like this exists. The business model of a retail store is in no way comparable to an internet business model.

                  You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get. It is not just a widget it has many other characteristics.

                  BTW, as a former business owner, I won't give you Contractor price on a $17 sale.

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                  • #10
                    I understand volume matters, but M-C probably doesn't keep that many more of any particular item on had than a plumbing supply, they have inventory costs too. I'm just tired of being whipsawed, like BestBuy wanting $30 for a USB cable I can get even in a local dollar store for under $3, or even at HD for $10. It makes you feel like a sucker if you don't have the time to invest in finding a "real" price.

                    My son needed a flashdrive for school, no less than $20 at Staples, $8 shipped from Buy.com. Time=money only goes so far!
                    Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gellfex
                      I understand volume matters, but M-C probably doesn't keep that many more of any particular item on had than a plumbing supply, they have inventory costs too. I'm just tired of being whipsawed, like BestBuy wanting $30 for a USB cable I can get even in a local dollar store for under $3, or even at HD for $10. It makes you feel like a sucker if you don't have the time to invest in finding a "real" price.

                      My son needed a flashdrive for school, no less than $20 at Staples, $8 shipped from Buy.com. Time=money only goes so far!
                      I guess the only thing to point out is to go to your stock broker and do some research. Check the earnings of all these companies, Home Hardware, MSC, HD, Buy,com, Best Buy etc. None of them are making huge margins. They all make money and price differently based on their business model. If somebody was making a killing they would soon have so many competitors.

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                      • #12
                        The big question is: how badly do you need the part? Sometimes it's cheaper to walk into a local store, pay the price, and be done with it, especially if you're staring down a deadline. I'd love to be able to shop, hands on, in a store, but the nearest one, that carries what I'm looking for is over 100 miles away. Driving to and from the place isn't worth the savings. My nearest metal supplier is 300 miles away (Tempe, Arizona or Southern California)

                        Yeah, I'll continue to use McMaster Carr....

                        The only time a road trip would actually be justified is when the cost of shipping exceeds the cost of driving.

                        If you have the time to wait, mail order is the best bargain.
                        No good deed goes unpunished.

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                        • #13
                          I would like to buy locally but have gotten tired of driving into town to local businesses and they almost always tell me ..........

                          "We can order it for you."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by saltmine
                            The big question is: how badly do you need the part? Sometimes it's cheaper to walk into a local store, pay the price, and be done with it, especially if you're staring down a deadline. I'd love to be able to shop, hands on, in a store, but the nearest one, that carries what I'm looking for is over 100 miles away. Driving to and from the place isn't worth the savings. My nearest metal supplier is 300 miles away (Tempe, Arizona or Southern California)

                            Yeah, I'll continue to use McMaster Carr....

                            The only time a road trip would actually be justified is when the cost of shipping exceeds the cost of driving.

                            If you have the time to wait, mail order is the best bargain.
                            Of course I hit the local store if they have it, and I need it NOW! But that isn't the case most of the time. And I'm lucky enough to be in a M-C messenger zone, an order by 11am gets to me by 3pm that day.

                            But obviously I feel torn about the local stores, I run a small business too. A 20% premium? no problem. 50%? I can swallow that sometimes. But 75-100% turns me away unless I'm desperate. When my shop was in TriBeCa, I could walk 4 blocks to a little place run by a nice Indian guy who would cut chunks of all sorts of metal stock for you. I even sold him a box of hole saw cutouts once. But I could get a 6' length of stock shipped from M-C for what he wanted for 1'. He gradually became a source for only when I couldn't wait.

                            Bizarrely, I feel also feel the need to give business to my local HD. They opened it a year or 2 ago right at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, 5 minutes from me, but the place is always nearly empty. I've almost never had to park in the 2nd row of cars from the entrance. I'm praying they don't close it! I've gotten spoiled.
                            Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gnm109
                              The reason for this is clear. Large stores and large internet sellers have the ability to purchase items in large quantities. Instead of getting the ordinary 50% off, they will get sometimes get 50-10-5-2-1% based on enormous quantities.

                              Your typical mom and pop hardware store buys a case or two of this and that and gets only the standard retailer's discount. Thus, the higher prices.

                              My point is that it's not necessarily greed but rather the inability to do anything else. It always pays to shop around.


                              .


                              on top of the quantity pricing advantage for big most big e-retailers, a lot of them are located in Nevada such as Amazon.com and Enco/MSC off the top of my head.

                              why Nevada? there's little or no taxes for businesses...

                              land is probably a ton cheaper there, also.
                              -paul

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