*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Retailers: it's not me, it's you.

I've gone here before.  I have written about the fact that not only can't 'bricks and mortar' retail  match the prices of online shopping, but the online retail experience is no worse, and often far better, than it is in person.  I have also written that the vaunted LBS ('local bicycle shop') sucks, usually.  This is no less true in Canada than in Japan, and no less true of electronics than of bicycles, books...

So I was amused that a leftie website said the unspeakable: local bookstores deserve to die.  They do.  They deserve it in Toronto and they deserve it in Tokyo; they deserve it for new books and they deserve it for used books.  Maybe you'll find a book you want, and maybe you will not.  I do not have that kind of time.  In a new bookstore I can only be certain they'll have bestsellers I could find anywhere else; in a used bookstore only certain to find books someone cast off.  These are not business models the failure of which you can blame on customers*.  I won't even start on the fact that e-books, whatever you feel about them, are more convenient for many.

In the same week, this article on 'show-rooming' came along: using a retailer to look at products you've no intention of buying from.  I think we've all been guilty of this, but there are actions more and less gauche:
- doing it to chains is not like doing it to stand-alone
- walking through is not the same as taking a salesperson's time
- doing it in an overpriced store run by nobs is not the same as one which has treated you well
- whipping out a camera or smartphone app does mean you are a cock

But I won't be told I owe anything to 'bricks and mortar' retail, unless they have done right by me, and do right by their staff.  Both have been less and less likely each year of my four decades.  Fuck'em.

*In fact, you never can.


  1. There is a goth wear shop here that has signs telling people that it is wrong to try on their stuff then buy it on the internetfrom the states! I feel a bit sorry for retailers like that because I assume that they pay a lot of tax that the single buyer doesn't get slapped with but if I can get something cheaper elsewhere, I'll go there.

    On the other hand, I was all set to buy a pair of boots online yesterday until I read you had to be available to sign for them. Can't get stuff sent to work easily and can't guarantee anyone will be home so I passed. Actually I think the downfall of internet shopping in Australia is the complete shitness of the postal service here.

    1. The most spoiled for Internet shopping are Americans, of course, but the average American needs every break he can get after getting fucked by their 1%ers. Canadians get fucked by our postal system too, and by an average 20% duty slapped on at the border - and yet it is still often not more expensive than buying withing Canada. Mail from the US to Japan is expensive, but duty has been rarely applied to shipments to me (stay under 50000y). It hardly matters for clothing: the Japanese are too damned small, and I don't dress like a girl.

      The Goth shop...? Stupid to tell the customer what to do. Only way to survive is find a niche the Internet cannot serve, such as personal fittings are, or move on to another business model. Whining at your customers? Some plan.

    2. I got slapped big time with duties in Japan for buying leather shoes on the net.

      Running shoes is a big one here. Even with postage and duties from the US, still much less than the $200-250 you pay here. God knows why, they all come from the same sweatshop in Asia.

      Read an article the other day where bigwigs from both Microsoft and Apple blatantly said they charge more for products in Aus because they can. Cunts- that's not even a physical product that needs shipping. Dunno if Canada is the same.

    3. I have a pair of shoes enroute from REI Stateside. Prices in Japan?! You'd think six years of English schooling would give them enough to see overseas prices, but they'd still find a way to take it rough up @$$.

      I've been hit on shoes too. They must have a thing about leather... ahem. I have a 10 US or 28cm foot, so can just get shoes here, but double is stupid pricing. And corporate Japan clearly colludes to suppress real sales so the locals don't get ideas. Not only can I find more online, in my language, at cheaper standard prices, but I can nearly always find a sale.

    4. I am actually dorky enough to know the reason for expensive leather prices. Apparently it was a trade off with the eta class - we treat you like outcasts for dealing with animals and in return we protect your leather industry.

      Think it's bad for a dude, try being a chick with feet that size! Still clothes etc are much cheaper in Japan than Australia - if they are taking it rough up there, we are getting the spiky end of a pineapple!

  2. You lost me when you mentioned used book shops. There's no place like Portland, there's no place like Portland, there's no pl...

    Maybe the parallel universe I'm from isn't quite as straight as we thought.

    An electric book to me is like and electric bike is to you.

    Still, I enjoy reading your blog on my iPhone.

    1. I used to like used bookstores, but at least in Tokyo and Toronto the cost of used books seems to have increased faster than the cost of new, which is not something I am going to accept transitioning from pre-Internet early 90s university years to now. Seems at the same time that used bookstores stopped taking in customers books for anything like a reasonable trade-in.

      An example: Good Day Books, Ebisu, Tokyo, used to give half of face-value of a book in credit to be used in-store in the mid-nineties. Of course I was very loyal. Last time I went two years ago, no longer: the place was overrun with crap to the ceilings and they wanted nearly as much as new: more than e-book. Now, 'supply and demand' is a basic concept. If you have books you can't get rid of, I am not paying for them as if they are in short supply. Never gone back.

      There's also the lice thing. Toronto's libraries have become overrun with lice as our Neo-Cons have dismantled society and homeless have gone there as a last refuge. Some of the lice has gotten into used bookstores. There is no price-savings worth that.

      As artifacts, I far prefer bound books to e-books; but for the price, aggravation-factor and weight, e-books rule.

    2. I went to that English language bookshop in Takadanobaba once (something Elephant maybe?). They had a pocket map guide to Tokyo that was about 5 years old. I figured I'd get it cheap... ptt, they wanted near new price for it! At least fiction doesn't date but a guide that's 5 years old, they should be near giving it away.

  3. Being from Hawaii where it took the human embryonic growth period for anything to get sent there....well, Japan and it's almost defacto next day delivery for in stock items is a fucking thrill.

    I have walked into places to buy things and walked out because the salesperson I liked was not working that day. I was offered to be "taken care of" but I ain't giving sales to a person trying to jack a loyal customer from a co worker. I am loyal to a fault. First to the product brand and then to the sales person. I am well taken care of by waiters back home. They treat me well and I give them what they earn which is a good tip and a regular customer. I think working in an Italian place while going to Uni for 4 years kinda put that in me.

    1. Yup. I am generous and loyal when treated right. I am willing to suck up paying a premium. Overseas I always tip well. However, fuck me once and I will never darken your door again.