I love my country but not certain aspects of our retail market. I am not an economist, just a layman consumer on the ground. My everyday observation as such.
Recently I bought a camera. If you are to buy the exact same one I have at a major chain store, you would have to pay 25% more compares to getting one from a small shop. Same camera. Why pay more? It’s not a plate of chicken rice here that you have to pay S$1 more because you are in the Orchard area. We are talking about adding a few more zeroes to that.
The moment I discover instances like this, I vow not to buy anything from these chain stores unless absolutely need to. You should vow the same too and say no to daylight robbery (unless you are loaded with $$).
I used to purchase books from the major bookstores in Singapore. Then I discovered the vast difference between buying one here and ordering one from Amazon.com (even with shipping fees and your items are likely to arrive in a few days’ time). Take one photography book (ISBN 0321555619) as an example. Times bookstore sells it at S$70. Amazon.com sells it at US$30. Even with a US$10 extra on shipping fees, you would have saved S$10. Or 14%. More savings when you order more books online (US$5 is fixed regardless on the number of items).
So, I vow not to buy anything from the bookstores here unless absolutely need to. You should too. What has gone wrong with these stores? Maybe you have a clue for I have none.
Maybe you think … hang on, we are paying for the superb knowledge of the salesmen right? Observe our sales people next time. How many of them are label readers? You ask a question, they read the label, and tell you an answer. You ask which one is better, they read each label one by one, and you still cannot decide.
Not all are label readers, I must admit. But do our salesmen use or have passion on what they sell? Most of the time, I got the answer no and the most common reason is: I don’t have time for this. Ask the sales person next time: do you actually use anything you sell?
Cynthia needed a Korg chromatic tuner (the pitchback series) for our gig. And we finally got it just days before our live performance, after we have placed the order for 3 months. I have been hunting for the Nikon zoom lens for ages. No way I am going to pay 20% extra to get one from a chain store. I literally have to camp over a few camera shops in order to get one. Countless time I called in or walked into the shop only to find that a walk-in visitor just bought the last piece.
Gosh … I’m tired of waiting.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the newspaper agent littering “Today” at our doorstep. Over the years, I have called them so many times to stop “Today” from appearing. But every now and then, perhaps as and when they need to up the readership, “Today” piles up at my doorstep. Every weekend, we have to take the unread “Today” and dump them away.
The price we pay for a dead cold fish in Singapore, we could have gotten a live fish in Hong Kong. Do the small camera shops actually want to sell me anything at all? Of all the salesmen in Singapore, the ones at the camera shops rank the lowest in my book. Seriously, photography isn’t that expensive as a hobby. My guitars ain’t cheap. Neither are my computer components. Music instrument stores and computer stores welcome me to camp over their shops like a long lost child of theirs. Maybe you do, but I don’t get it.
And hence, I sigh at our retail market, though I love my first world country.
PS. A random picture of my first lens taken with my second zoom lens.