Joe writes an interesting post about the New Zealand Skate Market. The advent of the Global Intertron has opened many eyes to the fact that we in the smaller more remote countries have been being royally screwed by suppliers and middlemen for years.
The phenomenon he describes is not exclusive to skating. Radio Control has the exact same situation (although the history is different: it has always been ‘fringe’). I can get a 9-channel Futaba transmitter landed for maybe NZ$600, but the shops will charge ~NZ$1000.
The standard debate is that you should buy local to get warranty support and so that you keep the shop and the helpful experts afloat. This is only the case in my opinion if the shop is worth it. I regularly will buy small parts directly from Airsail in Auckland, and through WattsUp‘s web store, despite the fact I know can get them cheaper elsewhere, because the guys at these shops are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. I think of it as paying them a few bucks a month for the great advice etc.
Larger items and things I can only get from the crappy hobby stores (with drones instead of experts behind the counter), I will import, with nary a thought for the poor buggers that lose out. Harsh, but I’m not about to throw good money at a store that doesn’t deserve to exist. I would expect the same if I were a retailer, and it is one of the key reasons that I have to slap myself when I think how easy it would be to open a computer store and ‘be my own boss’: the service would have to be out of this world to support the prices I would want to charge to support my lifestyle. I could do it, but it would be damn hard work.
The skating analogy? Buy skate wheels and bearings locally if you like the shop and find their advice useful, otherwise stuff ’em if they’re routing you on price and not using the markup to supply useful service.