What can’t you Buy on the Internet?

"Lady Luck" 11 x 14 in box frame

“Lady Luck” 11 x 14 in box frame

You can find almost anything on Amazon.com from their mainstay books to clothing and furniture items. If you want it, you can find it on the Internet. E-Bay still holds sway for many who want cut-rate prices and a chance to bid on rare or longed-for items. Bargains are what it’s all about.

I sell on Etsy and find that buyers are comparing prices to find the quality they want at the lowest cost. I get several inquiries before an order lands. Sometimes I offer free shipping in order to beat the competition, but then the profit margin is slim.

Popeye trinket dish

Popeye trinket dish

Mainstream book stores such as Borders, Barnes and Noble and Best Buy have been added to a long list of closings that have either happened in some locations or are about too. There is an alphabet soup of sad failures affected not only by the economy, but by internet buying habits.

Here are a few more: Aldi, Big Lots, Blockbuster, Bloomingdales, Best Buy, Bath and Body Works, Coldwater Creek, Dillard’s, Hallmark, the Gap, Kirkland’s, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Hooters, JoAnn Fabrics and this only takes us to the letter “F.” There are many more companies going broke from A-Z.

What is behind this phenomenon? For one thing, people have less time. A friend of mine needed a small light bulb for an overhead projector. He went to several Office Supply stores and hardware stores in the area to find this size specific light. When he came back empty handed after having spent two hours and a sizable amount of gas, he searched online. Voila! He ordered three bulbs at $5 each and then paid an additional $18 in shipping just to get them here before his scheduled event. In today’s world, time is money.

As an artist, I’ve had difficulty getting the brands of acrylic and oil paints I want from the usual hobby stores here in town. I always find what I want online and with more colors and choices. My order arrives within a week, and the cost is either the same as locally or cheaper.

Olive Oyl hand puppet

Olive Oyl hand puppet

When I shop, I have a clear image in mind of what I want and need. I dislike store hopping which may consume large chunks of time I don’t have. I can go online and search for exactly what I want and find it in a matter of minutes.

The rate of book store closings is alarming. Again, I can download a book to my Kindle without leaving home. I can even do it from work. How easy is that? Even Libraries have learned how to adapt to the changing market. Their big draw is that their items are FREE. The drawback is you still have to return most of what you borrow and they still charge overdue fees.

While dining at a restaurant, I admired the pearl tie that our waitress was wearing. “Where’d you get that lovely necklace,” I asked?

“On the internet,” she replied with a smirk, “for only $7.99, plus shipping.”

There’s the catch! Sometimes the shipping may cost more than the item you purchase. The profit has to be built in somewhere, and shipping and “handling,” is one way. Handling includes the cost of the packaging, gas to take it where it can be mailed, and any other costs the manufacturer wants to attach to it. We are willing to pay for it because the item is cheap, and we want our purchase in a hurry.

The internet has opened up a new world of things to choose from. We no longer have to settle for what’s on sale or the usual end-of-season junk. We can click on “Search” and find exactly what we want at a price we can afford.

Popeye - Olive Oyl salt 'n pepper shakers

Popeye – Olive Oyl salt ‘n pepper shakers

What will happen to retail stores that must stock a huge inventory in order to compete? They will either find a way to adjust to the new market or go under. Most stores have online sites where customers may browse and purchase what they are familiar with. A sizable portion of sales comes from this source, especially during the holidays.

There’s a lesson to be learned for all of us. In a changing world, we need to adapt to the fluid market if we’re going to stay in business. In our personal lives, we also need to go with the flow of changing rhythms and trends if we’re to stay afloat. Otherwise, we may end up on that alphabetized list of failing businesses and fractured families.

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