Purchasing Things Online or in Store: Our Thoughts

Purchasing Things Online or in Store: Our Thoughts

Campbell Faulkner
Oct 15, 2010

Buying things is a complex process for some and purely impulse for others. We have always loved purchasing books and other bits off of Amazon. But at times, we find online retailers lacking. Here is a short list of things we think best purchased online and things best purchased in stores.

We think these are best from online retailers:

  1. Cables: Please buy your cables online. Best Buy, Radio Shack, and the like all want you to pay $50.00 for a 6 foot HDMI cable. Do not be lured in by stores and stick to monoprice for your cable needs. That same 6 foot cable costs a mere $2.51.
  2. Books: Anymore we have left the bookstore to purchase our texts online. We do not use E-Readers so online book retailers offer us the best discounts and selection. If you are like us and read obscure and expensive texts, stick to online.
  3. Consumer Electronics: Over the years, our purchasing of consumer electronics has moved online for a simple reason, price. This means we can get excellent prices and know what we are getting on computers, mp3 players and the like. For example, we stick to B&H Photo for our photographic needs.
  4. Photo Printing: The power of our digital camera is the absence of film developing costs. But when we want to print a photo, we turn to online shops to pick up our prints. Our favorites are Walmart and Walgreens.

Buy these in store

  1. Televisions: We have seen a number of people go horribly wrong buying televisions online. This is largely due to their desire to get the cheapest thing available instead of actually viewing both the size and picture quality of the TV. All of those who have purchased online have ended up buying televisions that are far to large and do not fit in their room and just look awful. Stick to the stores.
  2. High End Stereo Components: We plead with you, please do not buy high end audio online. Unless you review products or have already listened to the components you are buying stick to a store. Speakers are a very personal purchase and should be listened to if at all possible before purchasing.
  3. Groceries: We can tell you from personal experience that buying groceries online has only led to hell. When we lived in the District and ordered from both Peadpod and Safeway, nothing came in the proper condition. Be forewarned, the connivence is overshadowed by poor quality and issues with delivery.
  4. Alcohol: Buy in store or suffer the shipping costs! From cases of wine to bottles of Yuengling online, alcohol purchases always kill us due to shipping. We suggest sticking to what you can locally procure or taking a trip to the region where your beverage of choice is sold.
  5. Bicycles: If you are like most bicyclist, you go to a store and pick out a bike. While buying online might work out well, the average cyclist is not an expert nor do they have the skills to assemble, tune, and know what kind of bike they actually need. Hardcore riders need not listen, but the average rider should stick to local bike shops.

This guide is not comprehensive and consequently should be taken as inspiration. If you have any suggestions or comments, throw them out in the comments.

(Top image: flick user Keith Williamson licensed under Creative Commons)

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