Sunday, September 5, 2010

Will less cost more? At least my shoes will match

My replacement glass storage containers arrived unbroken on Friday, having made only four stops from Secaucus, New Jersey, to my door. (The original shipment started out in Las Vegas and made five stops along its way.) As I unpack them, I say to my husband sadly, "Pretty soon, no more online shopping for me."

My husband does not, I realize, look sad. He looks, in fact, positively gleeful.

"You're hoping this leads to me spending and shopping less, aren't you?" I ask.

He nods eagerly.

"There's no Sephora  in town!" he says later, while discussing the same topic.

(I have what you, and definitely my husband, might call an obsession with beauty and skin care products. Shh, nobody tell him that Shoppers Drug Mart carries some products from Benefit, one of my favourite brands. And, there's a Shoppers in New West!)

"We'll probably end up buying less stuff, but it will be more expensive," my husband says.

The less stuff part, I think I'm okay with. The more expensive part will be trickier.

It seems the equation of "local" with "expensive" is a common one. A good friend (@mforbes 37) tweeted about my blog and got this response: "If I could get that 200% raise I've been asking for, I'd only buy local stuff too," said @felixpotvin, (not, according to his Twitter profile, the real Felix Potvin).

I think @felixpotvin may have missed the part where I mention I will still be shopping at big chain stores, as long as they are in the geographic boundaries of New Westminster. But my husband knows that and he still thinks we'll end up spending more money. How much more remains to be seen.

I know I have chased down bargains online that, in the finish, turn out to be no bargain at all. Not long ago, I ordered shoes online from a store that doesn't ship to Canada. But they were so cheap! So sending them to a mail depot in Point Roberts (just over the border in Washington, about 30 minutes from my house) seemed to make sense. It would be easy for me, I thought, to zip over the border and pick them up. Even with the exchange rate and the cost of driving, I figured I would still come out $30 to $40 ahead. And my chances of finding that particular brand and style of shoes at a store closer by were slim to none.

The shoes were delivered to the depot fairly quickly, but with one thing and another, I didn’t pick them up right away. When I finally picked them up, the shoes fit, but while they were both brown, they were two distinctly different shades. Because it had taken me so long to pick them up, it was past the regular return period. I probably still could have returned them because they were defective, but I only looked at and tried on one shoe in Point Roberts. The other stayed nestled in its tissue paper nest because, silly me, I assumed both shoes would be the same colour. I had a post-paid return label, but it was only valid for shipping from the U.S., not Canada. I never did make it back down to Point Roberts to return them. So much for saving money.

Maybe shopping locally for a year will cost more, maybe it won't. I know one thing: even if I don't save money, I won't end up with a pair of different coloured shoes.