Last spring, Ravenna Third Place Books: I see a book I like, I grab my phone, I take a picture of the book to remind myself to buy it cheaper on Amazon.com. Why? It makes sense to save money. Last week, Ravenna Third Place Books: I want a book, I don’t know which book, my husband…More
Well this is a first. Elliott Bay Book Company has put up small signs around its store to remind people not to showroom — as many local stores are doing to stave off the threat of online retail — and it’s linked to my column on the controversial consumer habit to do it. Seattle…More
Tech never stops. As we near the end of 2013, I thought I’d give you an update on some of the stories and habits we talked about this year.
Are you “showrooming”?
“It makes you feel kind of used,” Patti Harriman of Ravenna Third Place Books told me in May about showrooming. That’s the term for a behavior that’s putting local businesses at risk — finding something you want at a store but ordering it from someone else online, usually for less money, and sometimes right there, right from your smartphone.
It presents a conundrum: Do you buy a product at the best price, hurting the store, or do you buy from the store, hurting your wallet?More
Last week, for the first time ever, I walked into a store and bought something with nothing.
I was at the shoe counter at Nordstrom, a pair of Under Armour sneakers boxed and ready to go. I’d forgotten my Nordstrom notes — coupons the store mails customers who use its credit card — and asked the sales associate to look them up. He did.
“Do you want to buy this with your Nordstrom card?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, opening my wallet.
“Don’t bother,” he said, looking at his screen and pressing a button. “You’re all set.”
Back home, I pulled out my wallet and looked inside. There was my license, the credit card I didn’t need, a bunch of business cards and gift cards I forgot I had and, tucked in the back, some stray $1 bills I didn’t remember putting there.
It’s hard to imagine a world without cash. It’s harder to imagine a world without wallets. But the way things are going, you have to wonder if we’re destined to lose both.More
Remember when grocery store self-checkout was the future?
The bulky talking machines have been around for more than a decade, and I’ve used them maybe four times. I finally noticed the 12 that are huddled in the University Village QFC when my husband went straight for them a few months ago. On the day of the Fremont Solstice Parade, I found myself lined up behind them at the Fremont PCC. But only because there was no other way with that crowd that I was going to pay for my sandwich in time for the naked bike ride.
There was talk in the early 2000s that self-checkout lanes would soon handle all grocery-store transactions. Now we know better. Everyone likes control and convenience, but some of us (raises hand) don’t want to do more work. Supermarkets like Boise-based Albertsons cut back on self-checkout lanes when it became clear that the machines are an option, not a revolution.More