Due to issues with our wireless router, I am currently in the market for a lengthy and affordable ethernet cable so that I can work online on a laptop while Madoline does her artwork (as can be seen in our CafePress Shop) on our desktop computer.
Prior to leaving to run errands today, I checked Amazon.com‘s pricing for ethernet cables so that I might pop into the local Radio Shack on my way home to compare prices. I wasn’t in Radio Shack for more than a couple of minutes before I was on my way out again as it was immediately apparent that their prices were 3 times what I would pay for comparable products online.
As I reached the door, the shopkeeper addressed me in the fashion typical of solicitous shopkeepers, and the following conversation ensued:
Shopkeeper: Did you find what you were looking for?
Me: Yes, I was just checking the prices on ethernet cables.
Shopkeeper: What length cable do you need?
Me: 100 ft.*
Me: Well, they’re three time as much as I can get them for online.
Me: Yes, well, the quality on Amazon is quite good.
Me: Thanks, though.
*So I can work from my smaller and therefore warmer room during the winter.
I left feeling a little sorry for these local, brick-and-mortar businesses. Even when times are good, they have a hard time keeping up with the vastly discounted online stores. And now that times are bad, they must suffer even more. And as we live in a remote area, prices here were already higher than most cities.
Being a small business owner myself (albeit online) and experiencing first hand the strain on business brought on by the poor economy, it seems a bit traitorous that I am not supporting the small local business, and instead going to the lowest bidder.
But I also cannot justify nor really afford an expenditure of $60.00 on an ethernet cable when I can get a 100 ft. no-name ethernet cable for $20 including shipping or 2 Belkin 50 ft. ethernet cables for $24 and with a gift certificate (so no out-of-pocket expense for me) on Amazon because I feel sorry for the local store. After all, I have think about my mortgage, food and utility bills.
As for the question of quality, Radio Shack’s cable may be better than the $20 one on Amazon, but judging by the user reviews for the less expensive product, I am fairly certain that it would serve my purpose adequately.
Of course, the most preferred scenario would be to figure out how to get the Wireless router working so that I won’t need to have a 100′ cable running across the house. So good luck to me. And to all the little guys out there.
Perhaps if and when the economy picks up and money is no longer an object, I’ll be able to help support local businesses more. If they’re still around, that is.