In the last little while, there’s been a lot of advertising for Kmart and BigW (both the same sorts of stores, essentially lower priced department stores). One of KMart’s slogans is ‘We make low prices irresistible’ – and on the surface, most people think that sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to ‘get more for less’ or ‘make your dollar go further’.
And I do have a set of measuring cups ($2) and a double adapter ($3) and a powerboard ($15) from Kmart. (Can you tell I’ve been doing my house inventory?) It’s hard to buy a double adapter elsewhere, cause $3 is small change.
Recently, the cost has been weighing on my mind. How can something be THAT cheap? How is it being made, to make it that cheap? Will buying something more expensive be getting better quality, or just the same thing, produced in the same way, but overpriced .
It’s all very well to speak about buying ‘quality’ What is quality in a double adapter or a power board? They are all plastics and electronics. How do I know one is of a better quality than others? Am I buying a name brand, more than ethical production or safe production, or longevity? And with electrical items, I’m not confident that ‘second hand’ is better. I’m not even sure many thrift shops would be interested (or willing) to sell these items for fear of the repercussions should they not be electrically safe. Or, I could ask for these items on freecycle – but the time waiting for a reply, and picking them up – is that worth it, when for $3, I could just have the double adapter NOW.
With measuring cups, sure I can buy metal ones (remember the Bradley Cooper lookalike?) I drafted this post long before I went to Vietnam, and bought metal cup measures, still made in China, that still get spots of rust after a run in the dishwasher.
I have been enjoying browsing and buying at op shops (known as thrift shops elsewhere), but I also get annoyed when they have signs of wear – something fraying a little, a stain I didn’t notice. It’s almost like there’s no perfect option (even new items can end up shop soiled!)
It’s incredibly difficult to work out value, from price, and the ethics of production. How do you reconcile these dramas?