It is the day past Thanksgiving and Christmas is now fair game. We will see photos and film at eleven documenting people lined up at the doors of big box stores to begin this years shopping wars. You will see them in the middle of the night in the freezing cold at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Macys, and every other store of size in our land. There will normally be two hundred people setting their sights on a dozen or two items at an additional ten percent off.
This particular curmudgeon was home, snug in bed, sawing pre-Yule logs. The culture of shop-until-you-drop has never taken hold in my mind. Shopping, rather than being a see-and-be-seen social activity for me, is an opportunity to make intelligent purchasing decisions as far removed as I can get from door-busters in the dark. I try hard not to get caught up in the frenzy of anything, and especially anything commercial.
To this end, I do a lot of shopping on line. I can do the necessary research at both corporate and shopping sites. I can compare prices from vendors that I know to be solid and fair, like newegg, Barnes and Noble, L.L. Bean, and Circuit City. The list of good online vendors is getting longer, by the way, and includes both Web-only and Web-plus-Mortar companies, and I suppose that I should do a column about them. This is not that column.
In the half-dozen or so years since I have been buying in this manner, I have rarely been disappointed by the merchandise or the price. I have occasionally been unhappy with customer service (like that which does not exist at Amazon.com) but in those cases I have simply voted with my feet (or my mouse, I guess) and not given sites with bad customer service any more business.
And I have never had to stand out in the cold dark of a November night in order to get a good price.