Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Digital Economy

(Editors Note: With the summer months upon us, I have decided to throttle back a bit on writing and posting. With the minor exception of a trilogy that I am working on, most likely I will be posting just once a week. Look for the pace to pick up again in the Fall - I just have too much to say!)

"Maxine" - the Pool Cleaner
Our pool is a mess! You see, "Maxine" our faithful, and tireless Polaris Pool Sweep, died! After several years of service she just gave up the ghost. Not a particularly good time of year to quit, but she just didn't seem to care.

So I needed a replacement. After looking around locally, I did what the younger generation seems to be going to first - I started shopping online. Ebay is a wonderful thing! For a little less than half of retail (with a rebate coupon) I have the new Maxine on her way! During the process it occurred to me that traditional shopping avenues have already given way to the "digital economy."

Instead of building homes based on the availability of goods and services provided only by the local economy, we are beginning to see trends that suggest that some goods incorporated into the projects are being shipped in from distant points. It only makes sense - if a vendor in Las Vegas is willing to sell and ship to you the product of your desire substantially cheaper than the local retailer, why not? 

It's not practical to find standard local commodities like lumber for the framing of your home, on the internet. You need too much lumber, too quickly, to try to buy it online. Not necessarily so for some products like roofing materials and maybe things like brick. Because of the unique variations of some of these items, it is entirely conceivable that you could locate something unusual that you really like in another state, made with cheaper materials and labor, and have it shipped to your jobsite for less money. 

Competitive price shopping the internet works great on many items like appliances, cabinet knobs, etc.! Standard products built by national, and international corporations are shipped all over the country for distribution through retailers. Generally, items that would be subject to wide variations in pricing due to a retailer's interpretation of value or excessive inventory levels are good candidates for finding a bargain.   Yet because of the ease of shopping locally where we know the availability can be immediate, we usually opt for the local source.
Many would argue that not being able to see, touch, and "test drive" a product creates a definite advantage for local retailers. However, if you have seen something locally that you like, often you can jot down a model number and color to see if you can find it cheaper on the internet. Remember, "the product doesn't know where it came from!" To me therein lies the beauty of our digital economy! The potential of online buying keeps local sellers very honest in their pricing.

Hopefully Maxine will arrive fully intact and ready for work. Buying out of Las Vegas could be troublesome if our new pool cleaner shows up missing some parts. But, the reputable seller promises that if there are any problems they will take it back with no questions asked.  Heck, all I want is a clean pool!

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