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Bezonomics   The Consumer You: Marketplace

Started Sep-5 by Alfi (THIALFI); 2157 views.
Showtalk said:

I try to shop locally when we are not locked in, and can’t find a lot of typical products anywhere anymore.

That is one of the symptoms of the hollowing out of the middle class, and the death of so many locally owned small businesses.

Amazon exploits the economics of scale to make products available that no mom and pop outfit could possibly afford to inventory, but it comes at the expense of the kind of knowledge and customer service we could get in the 1960s and 70s from locally owned businesses.

I remember as a kid, there was a bicycle shop in our small town. I could go there and learn a lot about how various bicycle components worked, the difference between the Schwinn vs regular tire rims and parts, and various things like how to properly unmount and find a puncture, remove the foreign object, then prepare and apply a patch to the tube so it would hold.

Then in those days everything was built to last.

This past couple of weeks I've been unsuccessfully trying to find the proper interface between a car ECM OBD-II connection and a computer to log some engine sensor readings to actually figure out why it guzzles gas. So far I'm on the 3rd device because there's no real customer service or tech support on the things, before or after the sale. Just identifying one that works on that particular vehicle is nowhere as straightforward as one would have expected.

There is no longer any locally owned expertise one could just go and actually learn which is the proper tool for the job. Instead it makes people rich a continent away in an expensive trial and error process of research and development for a task that should be just identify the proper product at the outset.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Sep-17

We still have a few stores like that, but the employees are retirees with time to burn.  When Home Depot was new, the employed real plumbers, contractors, etc to answer questions. After they out everyone else out of business, they stopped bringing in experts.

Yeah. In the old days, people bought washing machines which let the people working in the stores selling them, or on the factory assembly lines, the means to buy washing machines of their own.

Today, people buy washing machines which lets the CEO of the washing machine factory or the mega box store chain buy himself a new jet or a bigger yacht, while those in the stores and factories barely make rent each month.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Sep-24

Then they use laundromats.

Showtalk said:

Then they use laundromats.

Sadly a rising fraction of the population has been trending in that direction in the past decade pre-pandemic. I have met people on-line especially who have never owned a washing machine or dryer their entire life, and their entire clothes and bedding cleaning life revolves around the crowded congestion and risks of the laundromat.

I feel fortunate to know how to fix ancient washing machines, where to source some parts, and keep one or two of them working all these years, and enough square footage to actually set up and operate them.

That is the other force driving people to laundromats - lack of enough affordable square footage to have one's own washer and dryer, or enough extra in rent for that privilege that dwarfs the actual cost of the appliances. I think people were paying an extra $250 a month or more just for apartments that had an alcove to fit one of those compact stacked combination washer  / dryer units.

So I kind of feel privileged to be able to actually have zero extra cost to have a washing machine.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Sep-24

You are privileged.  Actually not everyone dislikes a laundromat.  I go to one to wash things I can’t fit into a washer and it is clean and well maintained. The owners are on the premises.

Showtalk said:

I go to one to wash things I can’t fit into a washer and it is clean and well maintained.

A friend of mine goes to one a few blocks from his house, because he has no time to get it all done. So he drops off a week's worth, and pays a little premium fee so it's all done and he picks it all up dry and neatly folded and ready to go for another week or two.

But then he makes 4x what I ever made in my life, and he is still always broke, because he's having to purchase other people's time to do basic things.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Sep-25

That is poor planning.  It’s not what you make, it is what you spend and save.

Yep, I know of a lot of people who wonder how on earth I can survive on often less than half what they make.

And there's tax advantages too. Being in a lower tax bracket means that I'm a little lower profile on the radar screen. Athough of course most people would just wrinkle their nose at "all that junk".

But - right now I'm on a computer that originally had Windows 7 and the previous owner messed something up where it wouldn't boot. For about $100 at Best Buy for a new hard drive, and install Linux on it, and I don't have all the steady drip drip drip of nickle and dime expenses associated with Windows, and probably a lot faster performance.

And I've got several more computers that were acquired in a similar manner. I haven't paid retail for a computer since one running Windows XP, and that was an open box demo. Since then I've drank enough of the Linux Kool-Aid that I only have one second-hand machine with Windows 8, and a desktop Windows 10 that was scavenged pretty much intact.

Meanwhile most of the world constantly buys new because they lack either the skillset or the tools to re-purpose stuff.

Same thing with cars - the newest vehicle I have is from the 2002 model year. The two I drive regularly are from 1994 and 1999 vintage.

Meanwhile, I know someone who makes 4x what I do who doesn't have a pickup truck, and so can't haul anything of any real size - and has to pay stores to have even a simple appliance delivered.

But he's got a BMW. And it's about as much of a white elephant of a car as you can imagine. Woefully inadequate cargo carrying capability, horribly low ground clearance, incredibly fragile oil pan that will shatter on speed bumps or a pothole filled road.

So he can't even drive all the way out to my place. He has to park at the truck stop at the edge of town, and then I've got to drive out there with the 4x4 and fetch him.

And I have a couple of cars that aren't really built for rough poorly maintained roads, but I've done things like put on oversized tires, built and installed a skid plate to protect the oil pan and transmission components should it scrape bottom, and some other modifications.

The person with the BMW also has a Camaro that doesn't run at the moment because he has no time to work on it, the thing is horribly difficult to get to anything in the powerplant and drivetrain area, and of course any mechanic shop would want more than the blue book value of the car just to do basic simple repairs because it is such a pain in the posterior to get to anything on it.

I actually hauled a 110 gallon water tank and chemical pump and other stuff to where it was parked some 7 years ago, and circulated stuff thru the radiator and engine block to flush it out, but of course he didn't have time to really see anything to completion. When he moved it was hauled by trailer to the new place where it sits on dry-rotted tires to this day.

Showtalk
Staff

From: Showtalk

Sep-25

It’s true, it takes time, some expendable cash and knowledge to fix things that others have discarded. Your friend might be capable but without the time or the vehicles or tools, he can’t accomplish what you do.

  • Edited September 25, 2020 9:56 pm  by  Showtalk
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