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December 28, 2007

Shopping and Rambling

"I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks … One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a pair. People will insist on giving me books."
- Albus Dumbledore, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, By J.K. Rowling

In my Christmas Eve post, I mentioned that I had a whole essay to go along with that Peanuts video clip. After kicking it around for a while, I decided that a lot of the thoughts I had actually tie in fairly nicely with the New Year’s theme as well – so I’m going to tinker with it a bit and hopefully post it here sometime next week.

In the meantime, I’m long overdue in answering Momo's tag to list five random things about me. When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy that I’ve put it off this long – after all, I write about random things here just about every week. I guess what I was lacking was a coherent theme or unifying idea – something an English teacher once told me I should always strive for. (Right after she told me to never end a sentence in a preposition – but whatever.)

Since this is historically the week for returning and exchanging gifts, or buying the things you didn’t get but really wanted, I decided to do a list of random things with a shopping theme. I’d tell you that this list is worth the wait, but I respect you too much to lie that blatantly. It might, however, be worth the next few minutes of your time – especially if it’s a slow week at work for you like it is for me. Off we go …

1. If it weren’t for eBay, I probably couldn’t afford to be a triathlete. But Thank God that it exists, because I must buy more than 50% of my workout gear there. Clothing, shoes, gadgets, you name it – eBay is the first place I shop.

Remember a few years back, when Jeff Bezos was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for his development of Amazon.com? Well, the lady who introduced eBay (Meg Whitman) deserves at least a similar honor – in fact, the Person of the Year title seems a bit limiting. Is it too late to give her a Nobel Prize for economics? After all, she’s completely revolutionized the way public and private sellers do business, distilled capitalism into a microcosm that is understandable (not to mention accessible and operable) even to grade-school kids, and kept me outfitted in triathlon gear for the past five years. OK, that last item isn’t exactly Nobel-worthy – but it’s just as important to me.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve got two more eBay-related items:

2. This month, I sold a running-related listing on eBay for 25 times the amount that I paid for it several years ago. That’s no exaggeration: 25 times my original purchase price. I’ll tell the full story here sometime next month – but is it any wonder that I’m in love with eBay lately?

3. You know how everyone says that it’s critically important to support your local running and/or bike store? Well, as a general rule, I don’t support mine – and I don’t feel the least bit of remorse about it.

I mean, sure - I could drive 20 minutes to browse through a fraction of the training gear and shoe models that are available to me online, then spend twice the amount of money to buy them … but I’d really rather not. And I’ve had some awful customer service experiences at these stores that I’ll spare you the trouble of recounting here.

(The one exception to this item was when I bought my tri bike – but even then, I had to drive over an hour to find a store that had heard of Cervelos. Let’s just say Monterey County isn’t exactly the Boulder of the West Coast.)

Don’t weep for my running store, though – it does pretty well selling high-end outdoor wear and athletic shoes to Pebble Beach soccer moms who want to look sporty when picking their kids up from private schools. It's survived without my business for almost five years now, so I’m sure it will continue along just fine.

4. Last week, my mother-in-law gave me a very nice cotton sweater as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit, so I took it back to the outdoor store where she purchased it, only to find that they didn’t carry any more of those sweaters in my size. I looked around for various garments to exchange it for, but wasn’t really blown away by any other styles – so I ended up buying some trail running socks.

But here’s the funny part: I was just as happy to have the socks as I was with the sweater. One can never have enough good, sturdy trail socks. And I’m a pretty simple guy to please.

(And yes, I immediately thought of the Dumbledore quote above. I honestly don’t have to look far for these things – they usually just fall right in my lap. I like to think of it as a gift.)

5. With the exception of a few children’s videos, my wife and I never, ever, ever purchase DVDs for our own viewing interests. We're pretty much oblivious to current movie releases, and even when we rent something we enjoy, we never have the time to watch anything more than once. So we’ve never seen the point of buying videos for just a single viewing.

That is, until the Season 3 release of Lost earlier this month. I’ve mentioned before that we’re totally hooked on this show; for the past week now, we’ve been plowing through episodes after the kids go to sleep. During our waking hours, we have conversations starting with questions like, Whose side is Juliet on, anyway? What’s the deal with Locke? Are all of the characters really dead? And why hasn’t Hurley lost any weight?

But like I said, we’re only going to watch these videos once – so if anyone is interested in buying a gently used set of Season 3 DVDs for 20 bucks, let me know. I'll even spring for the shipping charges. The first person to drop me an e-mail (on my profile page) gets it – and if I don’t hear from anyone, it’s going on eBay by the end of next week.

It won’t fetch me nearly as much profit as my previous eBay listing, but at least it will put a little more pocket change into my PayPal account. You know I’ll find a way to spend it soon enough.


Spokane Al 12/28/07, 2:50 PM  

Unfortunately or fortunately I am with you on (non)supporting the local running stores. I can drive there, look at the limited choices, get assisted by a person who knows less than me about what I am looking for, or I can sit in my sweats and slippers and shop on the internet for the choice that best suits me at the best price out there. And my purchase is delivered to my door.

It is not much of a decision.

Backofpack 12/28/07, 3:08 PM  

Ebay is amazing. I like it when I have something specific I am looking for. We haven't ever tried to sell anything on it though. Maybe some day.

momo 12/28/07, 3:21 PM  

kinda bumming about #1 but i won't ruin the secret... :-)

i don't much buy things in the shops either. my favorite running place is roadrunnersports.com - but go figure, they just opened a store here, five minutes from my house. i might have to visit at least once.

and i've always wondered why hurley hasn't lost any weight - i mean, really, he's been on that island how long now?

21stCenturyMom 12/28/07, 4:52 PM  

You have had much better luck with eBay than me but I do use it both buying and selling.

Lost is too obtuse for me - I never got it. I'm more of a Sopranos type.

Rainmaker 12/28/07, 8:58 PM  

Yup, I'm with ya'll on the non-supporting of my local stores. In general the staff aren't friendly, the selection sucks and the prices aren't expensive.

I do occasionally buy little things from them - like socks, etc...

Bruce 12/29/07, 1:36 AM  

I like the list, you do wonder sometimes about the sevice and running knowledge of the staff at some of the sporting stores. I always thought it funny that Hurley lost no weight also. Enjoy the rets of the series.

Annette 12/29/07, 4:48 PM  

I guess I need to start shopping ebay for running stuff. Although, I'll remember not to buy anything from you - too pricey! :)

I hope you're enjoying Lost. I sure hope the writer's strike hasn't ruined the chances of Lost returning soon. I'm hurtin' for good TV shows lately. :)

As for the local running stores - ugh! Ours is terrible. I got so ripped off there and I can't even go in there and see the owner without feeling disgusted. Unfortunately, I have a store credit (since they wouldn't give me my $ back for selling me the wrong shoes,) so I need to make one more trip there just to spend my money. Then I'm never going back. How's that for supporting your local business?

On a lighter note, have a great New Year! I can't wait to see what it holds for you.

RunBubbaRun 12/30/07, 7:01 AM  

I luv EBAY, I have gotten most of my triathlon gear there. I have local tri nd running shops, but somebody always has it cheaper on the web in general..

I do have to start selling on ebay, for some reason, my wife says I have to much gear,, go figure.

Addy 12/31/07, 1:21 PM  

hmm...perhaps I should give this ebay thing a try :)

On lost, my mom got the 3rd season for christmas and I've been powering through. I saw lost for the first time in November, and have since been powering through the series! The plan is to be fully caught up by the new season (though I'm thinking it'll probably happen by later this week!

Enjoy your new years!

a.maria 1/1/08, 3:09 PM  

hey i like this idea. i'm gunna start shopping ebay more often.. who knows what kind of treasures i'll find!

happy new year to you! cheers to '08!

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