Thursday, 26 December 2013

Keep Your Two Front Teeth and Give Me...

It is Christmas…well…actually, it is Boxing Day, but close enough. Let me wish all of you the very, very best for the holiday season and may the coming year bring with it health and happiness for you and your families.

While I have spent a great deal of time over the past few days thinking about Christmas’ past, I have also spent some time thinking about what would be my ultimate Christmas present. While I came up with a number of them, I thought I would share a couple of them with you.

Here are three requests from my 2014 Christmas gift list for Santa:
  • Santa, please make some sense out of the cost of raw materials.
    • There was a time when I would build something just because the store-bought variety of what I wanted was just too damned expensive. Today, it is often cheaper to buy the finished product than it is the raw materials to build it. Why is it that the local box-store can sell a complete knockdown shelving unit for $39.95, while that same store sells the sheet of plywood I would need to build it myself for $47.00? WTF?
  • Santa, please equalize attempts to bring down selling prices.
    • I remember when a power tool was expensive. Today, you can buy a table saw for as little as $110.00, a power drill for slightly more than 20-bucks and a skill saw for $60.00. It used to be that power hand tools cost more than a week’s wages, yet today, we can buy them for less than 10% of our net paycheque. Back in 1968, I was making $2.24 an hour as an apprentice body man, which was a good salary back then. I worked part-time in my parents’ corner store and remember that we sold a quart of milk for 39¢, or roughly 17.5% of my hourly wage. Today, a quart of milk cost $3.29 (actually it is a liter, so it is slightly smaller) and the average hourly wage in Ontario is $15.00, so a quart of milk costs roughly 22% of the average persons hourly wage. It seems that the only corporations that focus on the volume/profit ratio are the ones producing discretionary items. WTF?
  • Santa, please get rid of box-stores.
    • Years ago, when I was living in London, Ontario, Canada, my old man would have a building project and our first stop was always at Copps Lumber. Copps was the box-store of yesteryear. They sold everything from tools to trim, all under one roof. We would walk up to the sales counter and go through the list with someone who was a trained carpenter by trade. He would check our calculations, suggest product options, and in the end, produce two copies of the bill; one for us and the other for the yardman. The old man would then back his station-wagon up to the loading dock, hand the next yardman who became available his copy of the bill, and within a short period of time, oversee the loading of the materials into the car. Today, we have the box-stores, places where you can wander around for hours just trying to find what you want, load it onto the gurneys yourself, haul it to the checkout line, wait to be checked out and then load it all yourself into your car that is usually parked as far away from the door as possible. This is progress? There are a few old lumberyards still around, the one I frequent in Toronto being Central Fairbanks Lumber. Ironically, they are located directly across the road from a Home Depot location. While their salesperson/customer ratio is slightly lower than what I remember of Copps, it can’t be compared to the ratio that exists across the road at Home Depot, which, I think, really doesn’t have one. The main difference, though, is in the order processing. I have spent a half-day putting an order together at Home Depot, which I later discovered could be done in less than an hour at Fairbanks. Given that Fairbanks sells that box-store $47.00 sheet of plywood I previously mentioned for $48.50, there is a cost for better service, but with large orders, there is a savings even when the higher material costs are added in. If you think about it, box-stores make you spend a great deal of time to do all their work and pay you less than minimum wage for doing it. WTF?

So there you go – some of what I want for Christmas 2014.



1 comment:

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