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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Wrong store for the right things



Sometimes the best place to buy something is not in the proper specialty store. Back when I was in the Fire Service one of the officers had a plumbing business on the side. He pointed out that you could take a valve from a plumbing supply house, slap some red paint on it, and sell it for five times the price in the Fire catalog.

One of the worse places to shop for boating supplies is at a marine store. One example, they sell a bosun's chair for ascending the mast. It’s possible to get better and cheaper gear from mountaineering stores. If you have to get marine stuff look at places that sell to fishermen. Often they’ll have the same products for a lot less money. Other things like foul weather gear might not be as pretty, but will probably work better.

I’ve even found stuff for my boat while shopping in craft stores with my lovely wife.

The little solar panel on my sailboat has been working fine for years. That came out of the garden supply section. The price was right and it’s held up perfectly in the marine environment.

If you want to see a huge price difference, look at a marine alcohol one burner stove. Then check out alcohol stoves designed for backpacking. One year I was cooking on my Oday 19. It’s too small to cook inside the cabin so I cooked out in the cockpit. Since it was outside I could use a MSR hiking stove that ran off regular gasoline. I put a fitting on my fuel line for filling the stove tank. It worked out just fine.

My local hardware store has gotten used to me wandering around their store seemingly aimlessly. The manager asked me if he could help.

I told him, “No, I’m looking for the wrong parts for the right job.”

“Oh,” he said, “You’re an inventor.”

He left me alone after that. The hardware store is where I bought 90% of the parts I needed to convert diesel engines to run on waste vegetable oil. That was much much cheaper than the kits available out there.

A lot of money can be saved with a little creativity.

-Sixbears



10 comments:

  1. A relative of mine used to work at a car dealership. They stocked a tiny little o-ring that fit the same place on a Jeep, an Olds, and a Cadillac. They had the same number and came out of the same parts drawer. If you bought it fore the first-50 cents, the second-a dollar, the third-two dollars. Such is marketing, you pay for the name.

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    1. Indeed you do. That's a perfect illustration of marketing.

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  2. Being creative can go a long way in getting things done at bargain prices.

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  3. If the part fits the task - use it. The part itself could care less about its providence.

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    1. That's how I feel about it. Whatever works.

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  4. “No, I’m looking for the wrong parts for the right job. A lot of money can be saved with a little creativity." And to get that done takes a smart person, which you very obviously are. You already have a picture drawn out, even if only in your mind, to what the mechanism will be.

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    1. It's surprising how often that has worked out for me. Not 100% of time, but often enough to make it worthwhile.

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  5. Specialty stuff nearly always costs more. One of the local fire departments was looking for drug boxes (way back when) for their new paramedics. The 'official' one was $$$ - one of the firefighters said it looked just like a tackle box at the local fishing shop - turned out it was exactly the same, minus the Star of Life decals - and only $ - which paid for extra boxes and lots of decals.

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    1. That's funny. My fire department did the exact same thing.

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