The Cupboard Was Bare

You know what’s aggravating?

Driving over a substantial area in an attempt to locate merchandise that you want only to find out that no one locally carries it.  First off, let me say that I’m not one of those people who insist that everything I purchase must be made in America.  As nice as that sentiment may seem, it’s just not practical in a world that has embraced globalization.  As an alternative, I try to buy those items that I do want from local sources.  It’s not much, but that’s my thing.  I’ve no problem with ordering products online or via the mail; I just like to first get them locally, if at all possible.  That $30 book that Amazon is selling for $24?  Factor in the costs of shipping, the taxes, and the frustration involved in waiting, and you’re probably out of more than what you’d have paid if you bought it at the local mall.  At the very least you’d be reading it tonight, rather than in four-to-five business days.  That’s got to be worth something.

There’s a practical side to this, you know.  Often, what looks good in a catalogue or online isn’t, and having a local seller makes it easier for me to examine the product, assess the value, and to decide if I’ll ultimately purchase it.  I have purchased things in the past from online sources because local businesses either lacked the products or were generally uncooperative with my quest (I’m looking at you, Barnes and Noble), but often, that’s a last resort for me.

My current endeavor has had me visiting every Walmart, Target, and regional department store in a sixty (60) mile radius of my home.  That’s a lot of ground to cover.  And for what?  Stuff that any one of the stores could have – should have – had on their shelves.  Gallons of gasoline and hours of my days were spent on this failed mission, one that will likely never be resolved.  It’s like I stepped into a chapter of Cervantes’ Don Quixote – except instead of hopelessly charging at windmills, I’m hunting down stores that I’ve not yet visited in hopes that they’ll have the items that I’ve been seeking.

And you know what?  I wouldn’t have been frustrated, but for one key thing: Sister stores do not carry the same merchandise.  I’ve visited at least seven (7) Walmart stores and none of them carry the same merchandise.  Some may have carried my mysterious products; some never did.  Same with Target and some of the regional stores.  Can’t call before I travel because half of the time, there’s no one to answer my questions.

Years ago, Borders Books was ahead of the game because they offered visitors to their online site the ability to check store inventory before venturing out.  I could pull up the Borders’ site, type in the name of the desired book, and it’d tell me then and there if that book was on the shelves.  It was a fantastic tool that I wish other stores employed.  As to my other quest, I don’t know.  I’ve come to accept that I’ll not find what I want anytime soon, so my options are to either go online or to just give it up.  I’m leaning towards the latter, but we’ll see.


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