Jewish Journal


September 14, 2011

The Shop Around The Corner: Local Merchants


I had an ink stain on a silk cocktail dress.  My fancy neighborhood cleaner wanted twenty dollars, with no guarantee that the stain would come out.  Since I had only paid two bucks for the dress at a rummage sale, I decided to shop around.  I tried another local place, and they assured me ink stains are impossible to remove.

I left my neighborhood and drove 10 minutes to a dry cleaner in a less gentrified area.  They removed the stain on the spot, and charged me eight bucks.  I also discovered that their tailor charges half of what I pay to my local seamstress.  Location, location, location.

We have found this same location rule to be true of auto mechanics: prices are lower in blue-collar neighborhoods, and the quality of the work can be excellent.  Of course, it takes a little time to get there, and I sometimes succumb to laziness and pay extra for the convenience of nearby shops.

I do stay local when it comes to household services like heating and plumbing: the big chains charge a lot more than small independent companies.  I needed to change the locks on two doors.  The large chain would have charged $45 for the visit, plus $86 for each lock.  The local guy came for $35, plus $64 for the locks.

I will admit I got a little nervous when the neighborhood electrician arrived.  He was so old and frail that I had to help him up the front steps.  Then he forgot a tool in his van, so I had to help him down the front steps and back up again.  These maneuvers were very time-consuming but, fortunately, he was not charging by the hour.  He ended up doing a swell job.  This was no surprise, as he had ninety years of experience.

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