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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Voting With Your Wallet

One of the firmly-held convictions in my brain (and there are lots!) is that you owe it to yourself to spend money wisely. I experienced enough years of being poor, in my childhood, to never want to go there again. But being fiscally responsible - setting aside some portion of your pay for savings, building up a retirement nestegg, only buying what you can actually afford, keeping an eye open for sales or other discounts, using points to save money - is only part of the equation, in my own particular view of the world.

Another important aspect is to spend your money where you believe it ought to be spent! That can mean different things to different people, and in different situations, but for me it often boils down to buying things where you get better service, or where the values of the seller most closely match your own. Some people exhibit this behaviour by buying environmentally-friendly products, for example, or by avoiding Scorched Earth businesses like WalMart. But all too often, people do the exact opposite!

I remember a co-worker at the bank, who was into comics at the time, who got his weekly fix at one particular downtown comic store. He admitted outright that it was a crappy store, in terms of customer service. In fact, in one instance, they managed to not have a copy of an issue of Green Lantern for him, despite the fact that he'd had that title on his pull list (i.e. reserved) for a couple years at that point. Their excuse: well, the current issue had gotten a lot of press because of such-and-such an event occuring in it, and so they got a lot of walk-in customers looking for it on the day it came out, and so they sold not only the shelf copies but also some of the reserved ones! I suspect that they probably charged some of those folks more than cover price, because there was so much buzz about it, and because that's just the way they operate. In other words, Loyal Customer Guy gets screwed so that they can make a few extra bucks off the strangers who stopped by and were willing to pay a premium to get their hands on this hot commodity. And even after telling me this story, he continued to buy his comics there!!

I continue to spend most of my new-comic money at the same store I've frequented for over 20 years now. It's the least convenient to where I work, but it's provided the best service, by far, over that entire time. I'd never have stayed there, though, if I'd received the kind of crap treatment described above.

I've also heard apparently-intelligent types decry the loss of the Mom&Pop stores in our area, and then in the next breath talk about the great deal they got at FutureShop or Best Buy, as if the two events weren't at all related! I always launch into my whole "We Make The World We Live In, Folks!" rant around that time, much to the delight of the zoo visitors.

If everyone spent just a little more time thinking about where their dollars were going, and what they're saying with each of those votes, I can't help but think we'd live in a better world. What do you think?

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