We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, September 13. 2013
About five years ago I needed a tire for my Firebird. The guy who owned it before me apparently wasn't a very good parallel parker and the right-front was all chewed up.
Being on a Firebird, it was a pretty hefty piece of meat, so I knew it was going to be a little pricey.
I first called a Cuban buddy of mine up in Miami and asked him if he had any buds in the biz, which he did. I gave him the size, he did some inquiring, and his buddy's best price was $135. Given that the local Goodyear place wanted $168, that sounded like a winner.
But then I figured I should probably call the local tire shops and ask them if they had any 'specials' going on. You never can tell. I called two of them.
"Hi, got any specials going on?"
"Okay, thanks, bye."
Then I noticed some tiny place called something like "Bill's Tires". This time I didn't ask about any specials, just explained what I needed. Ol' Bill fumbled around in the catalog for a minute.
The shop was a block away.
Bought the tire, it looked just the others, worked perfectly.
When it all began, I would have bet you that $89 that (1) the most expensive quote I'd get would be here in our exclusive little tropical island paradise hideaway, and (2) my buddy's buddy, who owned a tire shop up in Cubantown, would have the cheapest.
$89 instead of $135. One block away.
It pays to shop around.
And, given what we've seen in past online-vs-retail stories, this next one is a little bizarre.
But it's okay. I really don't keep much in it, so one of those small 'compact' fridges would work out okay.
I go to the Wal-Mart and K-Mart sites and am pretty impressed at how cheap they are. They start at $130 for the real small one, then jump up to about $150 for usual size, about three feet high. For $165 you can get the biggest 'compact', about four feet high, pictured.
We have a local K-Mart here in Key Largo, and there's a Wal-Mart about 15 miles north on the mainland, but I never even considered them. As I've documented here more than once, online prices are usually about half of what the store wants.
I needed a starter motor for one of my boat engines a few years ago. $279 at the local NAPA, $169 on Amazon, zero shipping charge.
A few months ago my DVD burner died. $65 at the local Office Depot, $55 on their web site. I removed the unit, typed the name and model number into Google and some "Geeks 'Я' Us" site popped up:
Took a minute to install, has worked fine ever since.
Back to the fridge, I then happened to be in the K-Mart plaza at the grocery store the next day and figured I might as well drop in and see what the story was. They had both the regular and the larger model. Naturally, I wanted the larger one, so I held my breath and asked the lady how much it was.
That's compared to the $165 the web site wanted, plus $35 for shipping.
It pays to shop around.
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Good advice, Doc. I had similar experience with a toaster oven last year. Was half a second from ordering it online from the Wal-Mart site when I figured I'd wait since we were planning on going over to the local Wal-Mart the next day anyway.
Online price for the model we wanted? $89. $64.95 on sale at the store. And the capper is, it didn't work. Dead as a door nail. If it'd been online, it would have cost $25 to send it back via Fed-Ex and a two-week wait for a replacement. Brought it back the next morning, boom, was out the door in 15 minutes, works poifectly.
By the way, what the hell is a "door nail", anyway? All I see are hinges and screws!
+1 for Three Stooges reference.
And I got no friggin' idea what a door nail is, and, worse, my sliding front door doesn't even have hinges and screws, so I'm even more in the dark than you!
And my question is, why would door nails be considered to be alive in the first place??
Door nails are the cuticles on the doors. I thought Everybody Knew That!
Okay, I'm with ya so far. The question is, are door nails "alive" the same way fingernails are "alive", and therefore can be "dead"?
On the theory that you are much more likely to remember some completely random fact than something useful, I submit the following:
"The usual reason given is that a doornail was one of the heavy studded nails on the outside of a medieval door, or possibly that the phrase refers to the particularly big one on which the knocker rested. A doornail, because of its size and probable antiquity, would seem dead enough for any proverb; the one on which the knocker sat might be thought particularly dead because of the number of times it had been knocked on the head." An early reference Shakespeare's Henry the IV - of course, Shakespeare.
That's actually kind of funny. I would have figured "dead as" meant nails that were originally used to put together doors, but are long antiquated and thus "dead", but the "dead because of the number of times it had been knocked on the head" actually gives it a real-world definition.
And whew! I'm sure glad we got that little poser out of the way!
Har! I drop back by just to check in and find out everyone's taken my rhetorical (or so I thought) question seriously! On the other hand, Colorado's answer was interesting (and actually made sense!), so all I can say is, he really hit the nail on the head!
add S&H to the $135 and you'd have been more expensive than that $168...
It always pays to look around.
Lately, the threat of loss of business has pushed down the costs at brick-and-mortar pretty significantly. Our in-town bookshop has cheaper books than online (unless you want to buy used, then there's no comparison).
Several stores in-town now have online presences to allow local citizens to continue to buy local, but still save something (if they feel compelled to buy local, as my wife does).
I keep explaining to her that buying local only costs US money, it doesn't save jobs or businesses. She doesn't understand it and doesn't care. Every business which needs to charge more in order to stay in business is probably poorly run and will get shuttered at some point soon enough. We have a cycle here in town with people opening shops, she buys stuff in them, 8 months to 1 1/2 years later they are gone.
I know one woman who paid 3 times the going price for something she could buy 4 miles away - just so she could say "I bought local, and it's worth it to keep the businesses here." Um, lady, the business is gone now.
We convince ourselves we need to do things we don't need to do, economically, simply because we think it makes sense. It usually doesn't make any sense and winds up costing us money.
The assumption being made here, is that the refrigerators are the *same*.
Compressors differ wildly in how well they are made. Insulation used in refrigerator side panels can be very much different.
Perhaps the cheaper units are identical, and they are the same in quality, and you did good.
Only time will tell.
You're right in that I forgot to mention the brand name. It's a Kenmore, the ex-Sears brand, so it's a decent piece of equipment. It's also whisper quiet, which was a surprise. I thought all those small pieces of junk rattled like crazy. The ones in motel rooms always seem to, or at least hum loudly.
One thing it has that's actually really slick is the soda can holder in the door, where they're stacked up sideways eight high. In the old fridge, I'd crack open a 12-pack of Ginger Ales and they'd take up almost every inch of shelf space. So, in a funny way, I actually gained shelf space.
Fasinating word picture-- William and Mary Morris, in The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, quote a correspondent who points out that it could come from a standard term in carpentry. If you hammer a nail through a piece of timber and then flatten the end over on the inside so it can’t be removed again (a technique called clinching), the nail is said to be dead, because you can’t use it again. Doornails would very probably have been subjected to this treatment to give extra strength in the years before screws were available. So they were dead because they’d been clinched.-
That's even better than the "knocked on the head" theory, although not quite as colorful. :)