For several years I’ve waged an internal war between the forces of buying American made goods and trying to support mom and pop businesses versus buying whatever is most affordable, even if it means buying the import and/or going to Wal-Mart. Well, last week Sam Walton may have brought me to my knees shouting, UNCLE!
We made several moderately expensive purchases recently and in each case I did my homework, shopped around, and tried to find a reasonable price at an independent retailer. In every case supporting the independent would have required shelling out at minimum 25% more. While that may not mean much on a ten-dollar purchase, it adds up to real money when you begin talking about hundred-dollar bills.
So, like so many of my fellow Amuricans, as LBJ would have said, I threw in the towel and became one of “the people of Wal-Mart.” It doesn’t really matter about the country of origin since nothing we purchased is any longer manufactured in America. The best we could hope for was maintaining some degree of competition for the big box stores. But, when they can buy in mass and keep their overhead at a point permitting them to under price the little guy by 25%, that hope rapidly dims.
The dilemma isn’t over, though. In the coming weeks I’m going to buy new tires for one of my vehicles. I’ve done my comparative shopping and here are my options. I can buy a new American made tire for $149 with a 60,000 mile warranty or, I can buy a Japanese made tire for $109 with an 85,000 mile warranty. That’s $40 more for the American tire, times four, equaling $160 more to retread my used van without considering the lesser road warranty. So, do I salute the colors and fork out the extra cash for the sake of patriotism? Or, do I launch a bird in the direction of the nation’s banner and cede to this being an international economy in which the market rules?
WWSD? Yeah, I wonder what Sam Walton would do? I also wonder what you would do?