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  Kayak Wholesale Prices.
  Posted by: DUUJ on May-21-12 7:17 PM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

Do you have any idea what they are, and or, how they are determined? I am totally amazed that many dealers only mark boats down by five or maybe ten percent, (and they think that's a great deal). I suspect that the pricing model has to be somewhere near that of the publishing industry. (Retail price equals ten times cost.) By that model, a one thousand dollar roto-molded boat would cost somewhere around one hundred dollars to produce. (Yes, I know you need to "roll-in" the cost of the mold, but that is written off over time.) Wholesale cost to dealers would be around thirty to forty percent of the "suggested" retail. So.....why no bigger discounts?

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Messages in this Topic


  Not exactly!
  Posted by: CEWilson on May-21-12 7:34 PM (EST)
Back in the day, when whitewater boats were well under a $K, the cost of the Nth hull was about halfway between one and two hundred to produce and were sold to dealers at a wholesale that was/ is 30 - 40 % below retail.

This did not includes the $65K cost of the mold, wear and tear on the $250K rotomolding machine or tooling for seats, rims, thigh hooks etc.

Composite hulls have a much lower mark-up to wholesale, maybe because tooling is around $25K for a kayak, hull, deck etc, and ~ $10K for a canoe. Composite hulls manufacturing equipment is also significantly lower than rotomolded or vacuum formed shops.

Once freight and interest on operating capital are included, most dealers are losing money at 20% off list, and a 10% discount is more than generous and fair. There are no significant margins in boats as there is in books, department store clothing, etc.

  30-40 %
  Posted by: Peter-CA on May-21-12 7:42 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-21-12 7:43 PM EST --

You can't look at the cost to make a boat (materials plus labor to make it) as compared to what a retailer sells it for. The retailer doesn't buy it at parts and labor cost, but at wholesale. And you are right that most boats wholesale are in that 30-40% margin range.

Just think. $1000 boat that he gives you 30% off on, so you get for $700. If it was 35% margin, he bought for $650. You pay by credit card, so he pays a fee of 3.5% on the $1000, or $35. He has a total of $15 left to cover rent, payroll, shipping to him, insurance, utilities, etc. And he might have thrown a free class in on top of all this. And wear and tear on the demo boats which you used to make sure you got the right boat.

Retailers sure aren't getting rich.

  your suspicion is wrong
  Posted by: LeeG on May-21-12 8:18 PM (EST)
30-40%, when you're expecting 15% discounts as a matter of course you're expecting the business to go out of business and the person helping you to be of no value.
  I have been
  Posted by: old_user on May-21-12 8:33 PM (EST)
in the sea kayak business 30 years. started in 1982.
If you think there is plenty of money to be made retailing kayaks get into it. There are fewer and fewer kayak shops every year and one of the reasons is that the mark up for the shops is so low. There are plenty of places in the country without a shop. Go For It.
  How to make a million in the canoe &
  Posted by: Jsaults on May-21-12 8:54 PM (EST)
kayak business:

First you start with 2 million dollars.

At least that's what CEW said at a Raystown campfire.

Go ahead, blow out your trust fund!

  You should compare to manufacturing
  Posted by: pikabike on May-21-12 9:29 PM (EST)
Not to publishing. Using your model, then a car with MSRP of $30K costs only $3000 to make. I don't think so!

Kayak retail price = TEN TIMES the cost to make it????? Maybe 10x the material cost, but what about the labor? Especially for hand-made kayaks, which many of them are.

10% off MSRP is actually pretty good, *assuming* the kayak is a 1st-quality new one with full warranty, from an authorized dealer. You should never assume that, by the way. Find out for sure.
  Freight costs
  Posted by: old_user on May-22-12 10:45 AM (EST)
Besides the wholesale cost of the boat to the retailer, the other possibly big variable is FREIGHT. If a retailer can drive to the manufacturer, they often do, as it is cheaper and less prone to damage. But if it has to shipped cross country, could easily be $100 per boat. And freight cost is based on size, not price of boat. So as a percentage of the total retail price, it's actually higher on say a short cheap rec boat than a longer boat. Larger retailers can order a container at a time and save, but this is not possible for smaller brands/shops.

Then you get the issue of damages. Depending on the contract with the vendor, the retailer might own it FOB - basically, as soon as it leaves the factory, the retailer is responsible. So if it gets damaged, the retailer needs to file a claim, then wait….for months.
  You are way off.
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-22-12 1:21 PM (EST)
I was in outdoor gear purchasing for some years and can tell you that your estimates on markup are WAY out of line. The best markup in outdoor gear tends to be in the lower tech higher volume items like clothing which are "keystoned", which is insider slang for being bought wholesale for half what the list price is (that $100 polartec jacket cost them $50 therefore a 50% margin). When you factor in shoplifting losses and the necessity of periodic clearance sales, any shop that can maintain a profit margin of 15% overall is doing an outstanding job. The mean was more like under 10% net when I was in the business.

But, ironically, the higher tech major items like tents, frame packs and kayaks have a lower margin, generally only around 35% or less. Some items are even just 25% margin. If you ever see items like this on sale for more than 30% or 40% off the seller is just cutting their losses by trying to get them off the floor to raise cash and make room for stock that WILL turn over a profit.

Even though I have been an REI member since 1972 and there are now 2 shiny new REI stores in my town, I admit I voluntarily forgo the 10% member dividend more often than not by purchasing my kayaking and other outdoor gear at our wonderful local independent outfitter, Exkursion, who has served the region's wilderness sports recreationalists loyally for at least 40 years with both an outstanding range of gear and excellent classes. They truly deserve my support.

I get frustrated by the trend towards the big box discount and "amazon-can-send-me-anything" attitude that so many people have in outfitting themselves. We are rapidly losing our choices and convenience in where and what we can buy. My good-sized city used to have 6 independent outdoor gear vendors in a dozen outlets. Now we are down to one in town and one an hour distant. The same thing (actually worse) has happened with bookstores. The big boxes came in, drove the independents out of business and now they too have pulled out. There are no bookstores within the city limits now except connected to the colleges. EMS has closed its stores here and if REI does the same, the city will be in rough shape selection wise.

Until people stop basing their purchases on squeezing the rock-bottom lowest price out of everything, we risk losing the invaluable blessings of personal service, local expertise and investment in teaching and community that independent shops can offer us.

End of lunchbreak rant.
  Great post w-leaf
  Posted by: johnysmoke on May-22-12 2:45 PM (EST)
  2nd that. good post.
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-24-12 2:29 PM (EST)
  The biggest loss
  Posted by: old_user on May-24-12 1:55 PM (EST)
Is that many dealers are no longer willing or enthusiastic about spending the time investing in the customer because they feel that the majority will milk 'em for info and then scan and scram for the best price. Can't blame them because that is exactly what happens quite often. Also can't blame the customer for wanting to save a few $ in the economy but long term maybe the dealer needs to start charging for that "shop education" time!
Can't blame the manufacturer to selling to broad distribution channels because they want to get all of their product to market and the online sales channel is the fastest growing segment of new sales.

I've been in the paddlesports industry as a sales rep for top companies of PFDs/Paddles/Boats for 14 years and 7 years prior as a shop employee. The ma and pa stores are losing enthusiasm rapidly. Just spent 2 hours responding to one dealer that is getting hit with the price match and aggressive buyer so often that they are losing the passion that has helped produce countless new paddlers. Sad. In the end, the sport loses a community hub to meet new paddlers, expand skills and service the product they spent their hard earned money to get.

There is a good government study on the airline industries challenges in the mid 90s that is analogous to the online discount sporting goods market today:
Check this out:

Take home, the shops that evolve and offer more services can actually gain market share but there will be a loss of many retailers along that path.

Give your local shop a chance to compete and remember that you are buying a lifetime investment that you may need help with down the road. I often ask people at boat ramps the exact price they paid when they bought their boat. No one ever remembers but the ones that patronized the experts always seem better equipped with the right gear and a set of skills to pursue their adventure. Value can be calculated in more ways than % off the msrp.

Happy Paddlin,
  Reminder that REI is a co-op
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-24-12 7:05 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-24-12 7:07 PM EST --

Since it is being used so strenuously in this argument, I feel compelled to remind everybody that REI is fundamentally different from EMS, Cabela's and particularly WalMart. It has always been and remains a member owned co-operative. I've been a member since 1972 when they mainly sold climbing and backpacking gear out of a Seattle store and a catalog. They pay a dividend yearly to every member and are governed by voting by that membership and a lot of direct involvement from their employees.

It's a good place to work because the employees and customers own it.

  my local shop is owned by a resident
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-24-12 7:51 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-24-12 7:58 PM EST --

100% of his state taxes stay in my state. 100% of his local taxes stay in my community. As a local merchant he understands the importance of community, so he spends as much as he can within the community. Want me to go on?

REI does a decent job and as I posted above, I shop there occasionally. They make an effort when it comes to events. But they do not compete with any local shop I've been to in the last decade when it comes to service or selection.

  Got you beat by two years.
  Posted by: ezwater on May-28-12 1:47 AM (EST)
But I haven't been strongly impressed with how member participation and control influences the business. Still, I'm loyal and look to REI first for most outdoor needs.
  the "crowing" bothers me
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-24-12 7:20 PM (EST)
I have to confess I was upset by WB's crowing about walking out of the shop when the owner who he'd gotten so much information from got cranky. We all have bad days and i doubt you can really appreciate the level of stress and frustration that arises from trying to run a small outdoor business. i worked for 3 of them and have had friends that operated several more. They put enormous hours into those shops, and are usually teetering on the brink of personal financial ruin at some point every season. All it takes is a few months of bad weather or a dock strike in a foriegn country (like the year we couldn't get any cross country skiis from Norway when the big XC fad hit in the mid 70's) and all your work goes down the drain.

It would have been more gracious of WB to say -- "Yes, I admit I took up a lot of your time and I really do appreciate how patient you were and how much I learned about this boat I am now prepared to buy. You'll be happy to know your hard work is about to pay off." I guarantee you would have gotten a humbled apology from that owner and he would have fallen over himself to see that you got the deal you wanted and needed.

We are too quick to be self-righteously indignant, I think, never acknowledging our own complicity in the events that offend us.
  Posted by: guideboatguy on May-24-12 7:43 PM (EST)
You sure hit the nail on the head with that one.
  self righteous was an apt description
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-24-12 7:52 PM (EST)
I really have nothing more to add. This person can make all the claims they want; it's pretty clear that price was a big determinant. Well, down the road, you get what you pay for.
  here's what gets me
  Posted by: LeeG on May-24-12 9:17 PM (EST)
someone driving up in a Mercedes could spend $600 at a fancy restaurant paying for four people and tip 20%.

I'll help that person for two hours in the showroom and at the water THEN they ask for a discount, "what's the best deal I can get on these two kayaks?"

I'm thinking to myself, why don't you do that at the restaurant or the Mercedes shop next time.

  now just how do you think they got the
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-24-12 9:29 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-24-12 9:50 PM EST --

money for the mercedes?!


  not by nickle and diming toy purchases
  Posted by: LeeG on Jun-01-12 9:42 PM (EST)
  Customers are NOT "always right"
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 10:31 AM (EST)
I've spent most of my 45 years in the working world in businesses where my responsibilities were to directly "service" the needs of customers. The whole time I have firmly resisted the mistaken perception of "customer service" that is evinced by that old saw "the customer is always right." This is no more true than it would be to say "my children are always right."

Good customer service should be like good parenting -- you, the salesperson and expert on the goods being considered, should be (like a good parent) the one who assesses what is in the best interests of the customer/child and then steers them towards making that choice. If the customer knew exactly what would best serve their purposes, they would not need your help but could just walk in, pick up the right item and pay for it and walk out. Pandering to misinformed or totally clueless customers does them no good and is poor "customer service". Being a truly good salesperson requires a great deal of understanding of human nature, much patience and a strong spine. Sometimes it means being insistent, pushy and even rude.

This is particularly critical in sporting goods, since the wrong choices can lead to outcomes for the consumer ranging from buyer's remorse to actual risk of life and limb. I can't possibly tell you how many times customers walked into shops I worked in and demanded that I sell them items that were completely inappropriate for the purposes for which they intended to utilize them. It would have been simplest for me to just say, "sure, you're the customer and you can have whatever you like" and marched them to the counter to pay for it. (it should be obvious I am talking about major items like tents, packs, sleeping bags, boats, skis and climbing equipment, not cans of Sno-seal or rain ponchos.)

But I always felt it my responsibility to gently draw some information out of them before closing the sale to determine if the purchase was going to meet their needs. Sometimes they can't be rationally persuaded to consider other more suitable items, like the guy who came in demanding our "warmest sleeping bag", which was a $300 down 12" loft arctic expeditionary bag. Turned out he had spent a miserably chilly weekend in a hunting cabin in an old army surplus bag and thought this purchase would guarantee his comfort. After I found out what was motivating his choice I tried to talk him into a more reasonable $75 polarguard 20 degree bag but he would have none of it and walked out with the arctic bag. Two weeks later he crept sheepishly into the shop and asked if he could put up an ad on our bulletin board selling the thing, which (as I had warned him) had been like sleeping in a sauna inside the cabin. I conferred with the shop owner and we made him a deal -- though sleeping bags were not refundable once used (per state law), we gave him back the wholesale price on the bag plus a discount on the more appropriate synthetic model, then had the down bag cleaned and put it in our gear rental livery. After that he listened to me when I advised him on other purchases.

At the other end of the spectrum were the "tire kickers" (like what we have been talking about here), people who took up massive amounts of our time getting every detail of items in stock and never buying anything. Some clearly just wanted attention but I often picked up that they were merely very insecure people who had trouble making decisions. In such cases it was my responsibility in "serving" them to prod them into pulling the trigger on their purchases. We had a guy who came into our shop 3 or 4 times a week for two months one summer, and each time he would obsess over a particular premium Trailwise sleeping bag made with a very silky proprietary shell fabric. He would insist on having one of us take it down from the hanging display and lay it on the carpeted "try out" area so he could slide inside with his shoes off. Frankly, I thought the guy had some sexual fetish with it since he would lie in it sometimes for 20 minutes, grinning and patting the thing. His visits became an eye-rolling joke amongst the staff (though we were always courteous to him about it.) Finally he came in one night when the owner (a prosperous psychologist who ran the shop as a tax writeoff) was in the shop. The owner said "Is this the guy you've been talking about? Get rid of him." Instead of evicting him, I volunteered to close the sale (the other sale staff then placed bets on my attempt.) I walked over to the guy (who was standing by the hanging bag, fondling it) and told him straight out "No more test runs. It's time for you to take that bag home with you." He was startled and said "but I'm not sure it's the right one for me yet." Says me "I know you really want this bag and it makes me sad to think you have missed out on all the camping trips you should have been taking this summer -- no more looking, today is the day you need to leave here with a sleeping bag." I took a chance that he would storm out indignantly. But instead, he turned and looked longingly at the bag and said "You're right." He bought it. (and our boss ordered the employee who won the bet to split his take with me)

Whether selling you hiking boots, a sleeping bag, a kayak or (as I do now) electrical upgrades to your facility, it is not my job to "kiss your ass". It is my job to use my expertise to assess what you need and then make sure that you get it. It isn't always the people who coddle you who are the ones best "serving" you.
  good post (NM)
  Posted by: suiram on May-25-12 10:38 AM (EST)
  Electrical upgrades?
  Posted by: sitka on May-25-12 10:54 AM (EST)
I sell electrical upgrades as well...
  electrical upgrades
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 11:18 AM (EST)
(I work for a massive global infrastructure engineering and construction company -- don't get as much "hands on" dealing with customers as I did during the many years when I was a senior PM for electrical contractors)
  No, but they always HAVE the right...
  Posted by: pikabike on May-26-12 9:45 PM (EST)
to shop where they like. Just because a shop is local doesn't mean it has a captive audience.

Have you never walked out of a car dealership after talking with a sales rep who doesn't hear what you say you want, who is merely pushing what's on the lot instead of trying to match your wants? Have you never heard a sales rep try to use insults to prod someone into buying something "better", i.e., more profitable? It's not limited to car dealers.
  this has come up before
  Posted by: radiomix on May-25-12 10:57 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-25-12 11:27 AM EST --

The ones who complain about service at stores clearly have never worked in stores. More importantly, they have never owned their own small business. This is similar to the guy that doesn't leave a tip because their service was slow.

Tire kicking is acceptable, but don't get mad when you get called out for it. After all honesty is more important than making you feel good about your purchase. Just pick up some smartwools or a canister of fuel every once in a while.

In our coupon nation, we all want the best price, best deal, best service, best return policy, etc, etc. But then we want to have personal relationships and buy local, etc., etc. All of these things are in conflict with each other. Everyone is so concerned about calling out people in reviews online, and bragging about their deals, spending money to save money, blah, blah. In the end we are just buying crap we don't need. Talk about first world country problems. It's embarrassing that we don't have better judgement as a society.

If one is worried about 5-10% price while buying something as useless as a kayak, I question their whole existence.

Ryan L.

  tipping (and other social negotiations)
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 11:37 AM (EST)
I only worked as a waitress (back during college) for a total of 3 days. It was enough to give me a lifelong appreciation for how hard they work and what a thankless task it can be. Since then I have never left less than 20% for a tip. If the waitperson seems to be really "in the weeds" I will leave the same even if service has been crappy -- if it is clear that they are overwhelmed because of circumstances beyond their control I will leave even more and then stop and tell the manager that I noticed that the service was being badly run.

I once stopped at a diner to take a break on a long solo motorcycle trip. I sat at the counter and just had tea and a pastry. The place was very busy and the waitress was grim, even rude, as she slammed my order down. I got the feeling she was having a really bad day. When I left, I put a $5 tip under my saucer before paying at the cashier. As I was putting my helmet on in the parking lot, the waitress came running out and tried to give me the bill back. I explained to her that I could see she was having a rough day and I had been there myself. To my surprise she began to cry and told me how her 10 year old daughter was in the hospital and she couldn't afford to take the day off to stay with her.

There are some exceptions, of course, but I have learned that in most cases, if people are curt, ignore you or are unpleasant, there is usually something behind the behavior that explains it. If we would all try to respond with compassion instead of indignation, I think we could improve the world.

Being indignant is a form of personal arrogance that benefits nobody, yourself included. In both in my professional and personal life, I have gained more success and cooperation through humility, candor and empathy than from being demanding and self-entitled. The squeaky wheel does NOT "get the grease". More often it earns itself the short shaft in the long run.
  the cult of indignation
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 11:48 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-25-12 11:51 AM EST --

In fact, several of my friends and I were just talking the other day about the nasty trend (i call it a cult) of indignation in public and political discourse. The "how dare he/she/they offend me/us/them" has become a wearying pattern, too often replacing honest debate, exchange of opinions and any attempt to understand the opposing points of view. To many people appear too eager to seize the slightest opportunity to portray themselves as grieviously "wronged" over the smallest, even imagined, "slights".

In fact, most of what I hear on outlets like Fox News consists mainly of pointless rants of self-righteous indignation.

Since when did questioning someone's opinion, or disagreeing with them, or even offering evidence against a statement they've made, constitute a personal "offense" against them?

Oops. Guess I should relocate this to "Bicker and Banter."

  Great observation
  Posted by: stevet on May-25-12 12:01 PM (EST)
that I'm sure many of us have made. You expressed it very well. What I worry about is that young folks who grow up in this environment of "I am entitled not to be offended" don't even understand what you're talking about. Disagreement is not an offense, but very few under 50 or so seem to see it that way.
  Posted by: radiomix on May-25-12 1:32 PM (EST)
People get mad because someone is mad, or get offended that they offended someone or they have been offended. This has been going on since the beginning of time. Please don't push this onto young people, I have had my fair share of people over 50 exhibiting this same behavior. What's worse is they use their "wisdom" as a sign of proof they are right.

Also, my other least favorite trait of customers is when they make their problems your problems. I think it is an extension of learned helplessness in a world of blame.

Also, also, no one watches fox news. It's the highest rated of the cable news channels and still a very small share of tv viewers. Plus kids these days don't watch news anyway :)

Also, also, also. This is way too serious. Kayak shops don't make anyone rich, everyone go buy something so they can stay open and feed our need for stuff we dont need.

Ryan L.
  wrong about Fox News
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 2:34 PM (EST)
Fox news has been watched regularly by 25% of the public since its inception in 1996. Furthermore it is the single most watched TV news outlet. Ironically, recent studies have indicated that Fox News habitual watchers actually tested lower than people who watched NO TV news at all on being informed about current events.

The acrimonious tone, shrill (mostly right-wing) commentators and the blatant promotion of lies and misinformation by the network, as well as its general tone of sneering and indignation, I would argue, have been a major factor in contaminating public discourse over the past 15 years.

There are many regions of the country and certainly certain industries where Fox is the major source of "news" and public opinion. I've lived and worked in the midst of such bubbles of rampant misinformation.
  this will put it in perspective
  Posted by: radiomix on May-25-12 4:32 PM (EST)

This is why fox news never bothers me.

Ryan L.
  but that's a comedy show!
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-25-12 5:42 PM (EST)
(nevermind that some people take it as a news source...)
   Just like the misinformation spewed by
  Posted by: jaws on May-25-12 8:21 PM (EST)
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-29-12 12:48 AM (EST)
Fox deliberately spews more misinformation and distortion in one hour on any given day than all the programs on NPR might broadcast accidentally in 10 years. And when NPR discovers they've presented misinformation they generally correct it publicly.

A listener supported news reporting source produced by professional journalists , versus a ratings-pandering commercially owned "infotainment" source produced by hacks and shrill gadflies and hypocrites. Yup, real parallels there..........
  Lets see....
  Posted by: jaws on May-29-12 9:18 AM (EST)
a radio station supported by tax dollars given to them by liberal democrats. Yep, no bias going on there!
  Posted by: sitka on May-29-12 1:46 PM (EST)
It's not like NPR ran out of money when Bush was in charge with a Republican congress,check your facts.

You want to speak of bias out of both sides of your mouth. Folks on Fox have been caught in lie after lie after lie! I realize that the prevailing attitude on the right (from which point you clearly view the world) regarding empirical evidence is that they are "biased" but last I checked the word "Fact" refers to objective evidence, not opinion.

For the record, I'm biased, I'm on the left. I'm pro union, civil rights for EVERYONE, universal healthcare as well. I'm also well armed and no pacifist. In fact, check your history. Many revolutions have been won by the left...more then those on the right (to stick with the left/right theme).
   NPR is bought and paid for just like
  Posted by: jaws on May-29-12 3:19 PM (EST)
FOX. To think otherwise is delusional.
  More revolutions by the left
  Posted by: dogmatycus on May-29-12 8:13 PM (EST)
You are right about that. Communism killed a hundred million people in the 20th C.

  Posted by: sitka on May-29-12 11:11 PM (EST)
My point is to simply point out that the perception by the modern day right wing in this country that the left is a bunch of pacifists would be erroneous, not to justify the slaughters perpetrated by Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin or others.
  Few on the right would ever think the
  Posted by: dogmatycus on May-29-12 11:53 PM (EST)
left were anything but pacific. Too much experience with Hitler, Mussolini, Beider Meinhof, Red Brigades, Sandinistas, Chavez, Castro, etc. Not a lot of calm seas in that lot. The left has a lot of atonement to do before it casts polital violence before the right's feet.

  Fascists are not "left wing"
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 1:41 AM (EST)
Fascists and ultra Nationalists are, by definition, extreme right wing and not left wing, as they seek to maintain and reinforce the status quo (even by force) and concentrate on the establishment of an "elite" privileged class by racial, religious or economic parameters.

Traditionally, the Left includes progressives, social liberals, greens, social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists. The Right includes conservatives, reactionaries, capitalists, monarchists, nationalists, and fascists. Extremists at both ends of the spectrum have been responsible for the most egregious oppression and mass murders. Classic liberalism and conservatism are both toward the moderate middle of the spectrum and rarely provoke holocausts.

If you're going to argue politics, at least get your categories straight.

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
(Philosopher and Poet, George Santayana)
  You have no idea what you are talking
  Posted by: dogmatycus on May-31-12 3:31 PM (EST)

Square this for us:

Where does Jeffersonian libertarianism fall on the simple and naieve "far left is communist and far right is fascist" scale?

Any all powerful government be it communist or fascist is by definition left wing. State and centralized control is the common denomination.

  Not "my" definitions
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 4:30 PM (EST)
Look, the political definitions have been clearly established and universally accepted since the French Revolution. Your opinions don't change that.

Fundamentally, the left wing is DEFINED as the party of "movement" and the right wing is DEFINED as the party of "order". Ultra leftism includes anarchists, who believe in the total elimination of government. Ultra rightism includes Fascism which emphasizes centralized state control of everything. In the more moderate ranges of the continuum, conservatism is based on maintaining the status quo (even if it means retaining social and economic stratification) or returning to older traditions, whereas liberalism trends towards change and disrupting tradition and regimentation. These are not subjective interpretations subject to "opinion", they are by definition.

I won't argue that there is much grey area in these traditionally drawn distinctions. In fact, extremes at both ends have more in common with each other than with the moderates towards the center. I agree that global grief has been wrought over the centuries by both extremes. And what movements claim to be and how they actually operate are often contradictory. Stalin claimed to be communist/nationalist but acted more as a despotic fascist (as did Mao and Pol Pot).

Jeffersonian libertarianism is firmly placed on the left arm of the curve by all political historians.

Challenge me all you want. I am well educated in US and world history. The current popular categorizations of "conservatism" and "liberalism" particularly as applied to the two major parties are far from their historic roots. Today's Republican party is neither that of Eisenhower nor of Reagan. In fact, it enthusiastically embraces many of the principles against which Ike and other Republicans strenuously warned.
  Jeffersonian libertarianism on the left?
  Posted by: dogmatycus on May-31-12 5:12 PM (EST)
Do go on! There is nothing more contray to that then anything held by the left. The linear political progression scale has been in the dust bin for all but simpletons for a very long time. A linear scale cannot possibly hold the complexities of endemic rights and private ownership being anywhere near central planning state monopolies.

  your screen name says it all
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-01-12 10:13 AM (EST)
  You can't answer the question
  Posted by: dogmatycus on Jun-01-12 10:57 AM (EST)
Or even support your misinformation. So typical of the pseudo-intelligentsia.

  but I did answer
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-01-12 11:24 AM (EST)
Sigh. I did answer your question and provided supporting reference. Just because you didn't like it or agree with it doesn't mean I didn't answer correctly.

Ooh, "pseudo-intelligentsia"! That's a hoary epithet I haven't heard in a hen's age. Did you know "intelligentsia" originated in the Russian empire? And it is defined as "those well-educated members of the population who undertake to lead the people as scholars, teachers, clergy, engineers, and who guide for the reason of their higher enlightenment". Though no doubt you conveniently have your own definition.

Guilty as charged here (except for the "pseudo" part and never having been clergy.)

And before you devolve into class warfare, I am (besides very educated) as proudly a blue collar worker as anybody else on this forum, my parents grew up on midwestern farms and my boyfriend is a rural registered Republican who plays in a country band.

If you want to continue this, I suggest you relocate it to "Bicker and Banter" to avoid annoying the rest of the folks on this forum. The admin has been merciful so far, beyond the call of duty.

Dogmatic people are boring anyway. Save your energy for paddling, I say.
  I'd be happy to discuss this on the
  Posted by: dogmatycus on Jun-01-12 8:07 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jun-01-12 8:09 PM EST --

other forum anytime. I have discussed this over there many times. The simple fact is, political spectrums on a linear scale cannot come close to capturing the complexities of political theory in so simplistic a manner. They were outdated in Europe the moment they arrived there. There is no possibility you lump Jeffersonian Libertarianism, with it's endemic rights and reverence for private property and minimal government with the left side of the scale and the central planners. Nor do they resemble fascistic, nationalistic, Franco style governments. The right wing utopians are libertarian-anarchistic with maximum freedoms based on responsibility; whereas your left extreme is communistic. Fascists have some respect for private capital but their state control model has no semblance of understanding libertarian thought.


PS: what kind of folder do you have?

  "limited", not "minimal"
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-02-12 3:51 AM (EST)
Someone who misinterprets Jefferson's "limited government" as "minimal" rather than "formally bounded by Constitutional limitations" AND who truly believes NPR is some sort of liberal conspiracy is hardly a worthwhile opponent. Might as well remonstrate with a rock. (Link TV must give you the vapors.)

Sorry, but my karma has already backed over your dogma and the carcass is beginning to smell bad.

Think I'll pass on further exchanges. Feel free to take the "last word." Rather talk about kayaking anyway.

My folders? Currently one from communist China and another from socialist Canada. (both red, of course.)
  Appeal To Authority types don't
  Posted by: dogmatycus on Jun-04-12 11:53 AM (EST)
really make great debate opponents. I should have known, with all the bumper sticker cliches and all.

  you can mark me down
  Posted by: radiomix on May-25-12 11:51 AM (EST)
As being indignant about being indignant. On this I will not bend. Life is way too short to get run over. If that's personally arrogance, mark me down for that too.

Side note, if you actually knew me you would know that I use indignance and hyperbole as a matter of style not an actually tool in my professional life. I'm rarely being completely serious about anything. So when I say that I question someone's existence, I don't really, but I would ask them to remember the kids in China.

Ryan L.
  good one, Ryan
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 2:53 PM (EST)
We ought to remember to poke fun at indignation at all times.

Think about it, hasn't being indignant been among the central themes of some of our best comedies, from "The Jack Benny Show" (and the star's signature crossed-arm slow burn), "All in the Family, "Seinfeld" and "Fraser" to the Sheldon Cooper character on "Big Bang Theory" (who is as apt to display it himself as provoke it in others)?
  personal "offense"
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-25-12 2:09 PM (EST)
If you re-read my first "volley" in this, I framed it initially as my own response of being upset at hearing what WB's reaction was to the curtness of the dealer he visited. In all honesty, I've had that same reaction myself at times in my life "well, screw them if they are going to give me an attitude, I'll take my business elsewhere." I think that's a prety natural human reaction.

What I have been trying to explicate here is that we should take a deep breath and consider if that instinctive reaction is really in the best interests of ourselves, as well as the people who have "offended" us.

On a deeper level, have not most of the horrible wars and mass sufferings of humanity been triggered by that sort of defensive "indignation" by one or more parties? I would argue there is a continuum there between our personal everyday habits of indignation (to having our real or imagined entitlements thwarted) and to the holocausts our collective flag-waving and religious or political self-righteousness can lead us towards.

I don't think I intentionally insulted WB (sorry if it came off that way). I have been trying to suggest alternate ways the situation could have been approached.

This rise in the primacy of "indignation" has real costs at all levels of society. I have numerous friends who work in health care who unanimously report that their jobs and the medical industry as a whole are becoming almost unworkable due to the swelling dominance of "political correctness", i.e., no one is allowed to "offend" a patient/client or even other staff member for fear of legal or regulatory penalty. Doctors are chastised for, even expressly prohibited from, telling patients that certain ailments that they present with are directly attributable to their being overweight or from poor lifestyle choices or behaviors. ER staff are not permitted to evict unruly and disruptive family members from exam rooms nor to deflect chronic abusers of services (drug seekers or people who routinely tie up emergency staff with non-critical problems.) Patients file complaints about having to wait for exams or staff being "rude" in overcrowded facilities that are jammed up because those same patients won't take their routine medical issues properly to their family doctors. Again, no one is allowed to point this fact out to the complainers. And massive amounts of money (much of it our tax dollars in the form of Medicaid and Medicare billings) is wasted in "cover our ass" tests and procedures that the "entitled" crowd demands but does not really need.

I've seen it in retail sales and I've seen it in healthcare: there is an entire category of people who revel in creating situations where they can claim to have been disrespected so they can flaunt their righteous rage to authorities. In past years this sort of pathological whining was routinely ignored by management or the whiner was placated in a benign way. I even had bosses in the past who would side with me against customers with spurious complaints, in one case even banning the client from the store.

Now, most likely due to the eagerness of some branches of the legal profession to create income stream through spurious lawsuits, managers turn around and punish employees for trying to deal rationally with such people. It is "political correctness" taken to the nth degree. The squeaky wheelers end up not only getting the grease but bringing the entire cart to a full stop. Mass media contribute to this by hyping stories of these trumped up "insults."

This modern glorification of the "offended" reminds me of the cartoonist Al Capp's creation (in his "Li'l Abner" comic strip in the late 1960's) of a mock student activist society based on the campus S.D.S. groups of the era. He had his crowd of placard waving hippies self-identify as S.W.I.N.E., an acronym for Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything.

Let me be clear, I am NOT accusing WB of being one of these individuals. But his (fairly benign and admittedly understandable) reaction and action in the boat buying incident brought up the wider topic of indignation and how it should be a response we ought to be cautious about indulging in ourselves.
  If you are in business
  Posted by: Andy_Szymczak on May-25-12 3:16 PM (EST)
You are entitled to make a profit. Profit needs to cover expenses and overhead and something for yourself. That's the way the world works.
  Posted by: carldelo on May-26-12 11:33 PM (EST)
Wow, I see WB deleted the encyclopedia of his/her threads and went home! I was indignant and really wanted to take my business elsewhere, but after some thought I figured I'd just get over myself.
  taking my ball
  Posted by: sitka on May-27-12 12:00 PM (EST)
and going home...oh, wait, I am home. Screw this! I'm going to the river!
  "Deleted Threads"???
  Posted by: DUUJ on May-31-12 4:25 PM (EST)
How did WB manage to delete his threads?
  Just curious...
  Posted by: mikepaddle on May-27-12 4:51 PM (EST)
I am curious as to what you do for a living or do you even have a job. You obviously have no business experience. Obviously you are not...but...I have a feeling that If you were a retail merchant and read your post above, your blood pressure would have risen a few points just like mine.

In this day and time, many manufacturers are continually upping wholesale costs directly to their retailers while making them hold retail MSRPs. Believe me, a 5% to 10% discount is a BIG FAVOR. Way too many dealers have gone under due to being forced into cutting prices and not leaving enough profit to cover rent, taxes, payroll, insurance, etc. Sadly enough, another big thorn in the side of a legitimate local retailer are the large internet dealers who heavily discount and operate out of a warehouse (or doing on-demand only sales) instead of a retail storefront.

With attitudes such as yours it won't be too long until you will have no local access for your paddling needs and you will have to wait for days for a simple item...if the clerk filled you order with the right item.

   Mike do you have any retail experience?
  Posted by: jaws on May-27-12 10:59 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-27-12 11:56 PM EST --

Because after reading your post it sounds like you want to operate a business and have no competition. Do you pay sticker price for your car, the asking price for your home and always go with the highest bid as heaven forbid you raise a business persons blood pressure by trying to save some money.
As far as waiting days for an internet order. Where have you been the last decade? Do you think internet sales have grown because of orders filled incorrectly and lousy service?
The customer has the right to spend their money where they want and if you don't see it that way I am sorry for you because this is the reality of a free market.

  Posted by: radiomix on May-28-12 7:58 AM (EST)
How can you compare cars and houses to retail kayaks? That is flawed from the beginning. House prices don't have a fixed cost and the "price" is always linked to what someone will pay for it. Sometimes people pay more than the asking price. Cars are also different do to the money making avenues with service and finance kickbacks. The issue isn't competition. It's ignorance to the situation. If you are only interested in best price, by all means buy online. But you can never complain about local business disappearing, lost tax revenue, the lack of product knowledge, etc.

Ryan L.
  Typing on a computer made in China?
  Posted by: old_user on May-29-12 11:07 AM (EST)
In the end, the business that provides the customers with what those customers want will be the business that wins. If that business is on the internet then so be it.

Or are you typing on a computer made in the USA? You and everyone else shops by price more than by service and it's only the scale of it that differs between anyone here.

I say that NO ONE here shops someplace because of the service they get unless the prices are the same and they get the service for free. Sure, you might say that you paid $100.00 more for a $1500.00 kayak to get some service but that's not even 10% and is just small change in the big picture of the purchase.

And who says that internet businesses are evil? It's the wave of the future and it will not be the only way that we, as a society, destroy jobs and damage our own economy. We have wars. We have ethnic poverty because of racism. We have outsourcing. We ultimately always pick the lowest price alternative or we would have the worlds best auto manufacturing and we would be making flat panel computer displays here in this country instead of overseas.

The high-and-mighty stance that we need to support local shops is great and I applaud those that actually buy American goods whenever possible even at a higher price. Unfortunately, the system does't really work that way for anyone. The only reason someone might buy locally for a higher price is not for service, it's for more immediate satisfaction because they WANT IT NOW!

I actually pay more to local shops when I can but sometimes, the service and immediate satisfaction is just not worth the price. Plus, I actually trust internet companies to not scam me. Local businesses are great but there might actually be too much human intervention going on there.


  you're entitled to your opinion
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 11:56 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-29-12 12:00 PM EST --

Wrong as it is.

I shop local/independent shops partly because they're the only ones who carry what I want. The physical item, not a picture of the item on my monitor. If that's not service - tell me what it is.

What do you suppose would happen to the retail economy if everyone shopped over the internet all the time to avoid taxes?

Comparing the kayak market to computer keyboards is such an absurd comparison that I don't know where to begin.

  Posted by: radiomix on May-29-12 1:15 PM (EST)
You are doing the same thing jaws is. I understand how this works. Im not even suggesting one should pay more and buy local. The only new boat I own was purchased via internet from qcc. I don't have local shops where I live. The issue here is the lack of understanding what goes into a small retail business. People are trying to compare small local to large local to internet business. You simply cannot do this. All I ask is you look past the purely capitalist ideal and see that sometimes the right thing to do is to stop worrying about 5% and make decisions that might help you in the future. Like when you really need an opinion or need to lay hands on something before buyin, orif you simply don't care, then just don't complain when all local stores are gone. At the very least, don't make a fool out of yourself and get mad when the local shop is selling you stuff at a 5% margin.

Ryan L.
  keyboards, cars, toilet paper, kayaks
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 1:44 PM (EST)
it's all the same!
  Same question to you...
  Posted by: mikepaddle on May-28-12 9:51 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-28-12 9:52 AM EST --

Mr/Ms Jaws,

You obviously have nothing to do with the financial side of "your" business either or you would not be making such comments. Just what do you do for a living or do you still live with your mommy?

Retail wise, there is a definite gray area, price wise, between gouging someone and making sufficient profit to cover expenses to keep your doors open. That fine line is constantly violated by two people: those who cut prices ridiculously low and cannot cover their own expenses and the online retailers who have no storefronts or overhead. Both, in their own ways are cheapening the reputation of their products as well as pilfering business from their legitimate local shops all over the USA who contribute to the local economy as well as create jobs.

Funny thing...whenever there is a warranty or repair issue the super low price shop is already bankrupt and locked out of his store and the online vendor is nowhere in sight. He will probably refer you to the nearest authorized dealer. Sadly, many of the major manufacturers bean counters enjoy high wholesale volume from these outlaw dealers but conveniently "look the other way" and ignore how it affects their "legitimate" dealer networks. I have seen it backfire several times and the major manufacturer is stuck with a big $$$$ loss since the boats are sold and gone but the bill was never paid. Sadly enough, this is true justice for them for "overlooking" dealer covenants that they created (and made the dealer sign) regarding consistent pricing, servicing, and territory protection.

The local reputable dealer ends up spending his valuable time and expense cleaning up the messes of others. Even though we know that the person with a problem bypassed our shop to save a few dollars, we are always courteous and work hard to solve the issue. In almost every case, the customer is pleasantly surprised at our courteous attitude and is pleasantly surprised that we have been willing to assist and ends up a loyal customer.

If your local shop is smart, they will always give you a fair and reasonable price and will be there for you with priceless value added service and expert advice. You will never know how much you need them until they are gone.

   Well if what you say is true...
  Posted by: jaws on May-28-12 8:48 PM (EST)
then customers will realize what local shops have to offer, pay the higher price and local shops will prosper while internet sales fall.
But if people continue to shop according to price and local shops fail to meet this challenge then they will continue to close.
I could go on Mike but I just saw a mint P&H Quest on Craigslist for $1300 and don't want to miss out on an awesome deal. Will the seller give me value added service and expert advice? Who freaken cares it's only $1300!

  Still waiting...
  Posted by: mikepaddle on May-29-12 9:34 AM (EST)
You still did not answer my question. How does YOUR business respond to people wanting heavy discounts at or below your cost? I feel that you don't have the cajones to give an honest answer.
   We kissed the customers ass even
  Posted by: jaws on May-29-12 12:22 PM (EST)
when we knew they were wrong and at times we did jobs at a loss just to show the customer what we could do for them. We could have pointed out how they installed the product wrong and would not cover the cost to fix the problem but then we would be losing customers we could not afford to lose. I worked in a world where low bid was king and if you could not supply a superior product at or below your competition then you were on your way out. It's the way of the world get use to it.
So again I will say that if you provide what the customer demands, a quality product at or below the competition then you will be around for years to come but if you don't I hope you have a back up plan!

  oh brother
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 7:08 PM (EST)
The firm I work for is rarely the low on a proposal. So why do we keep getting all this work?

Enjoy your used p&h that someone else thought was worth a little extra over a Dick's special.
  what do you mean, "will"?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 10:41 AM (EST)
Where do you think the original owner of that p&h boat bought it? Here's a hint: not @ Dick's or Wal-Mart. They would never entertain the slim overhead.
  low price does not equal value
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-29-12 3:35 PM (EST)
I've worked, at management level, in a lot of companies and I will roundly dispute your contention that you HAVE to price cut to maintain your customer base. Nothing could be more wrong. Research into humans buying habits and behavior continually show that people more highly value things that cost them more. When you cheapen your product it becomes a downward spiral you can never win. As your profits decline, you have to cut costs and your ability to service your customers eventually drops to a point where they get fed up and leave you, either for somebody cheaper (who will also fold soon due to unsustainably low margins) or to someone who is more costly but gives better service and/or fewer hassles.

In every company where I have been given the authority to quote jobs and to control prices, the first thing I have done when taking over my division is to set our prices where they should be -- which almost always has meant raising them. Yet I have never failed to INCREASE our volume of business as well as the margins we made on it. People want "value" which is not just low price. Once you demonstrate to them that it is more cost-effective in all ways for them to pay the fair price for a combination of goods and services, while establishing a rapport with them that takes into account their individual needs, you can get the price you need to stay in business. And my business is construction and maintenance, one of the most cut-throat, price constrained lines of work you can imagine.

Whether I was in inside electrical sales or overseeing crews on a maintenance contract at a major manufacturer's facility, I never let a customer walk away from a sale because he/she told me they found my "product" cheaper. I would always initiate a conversation about our quote versus the competitor's. I would say, "setting aside price for a moment, what are your critical expectations for what you are buying here?" Usually it was things like on-time delivery, quality of installation, lack of surprises or hassles and (this one is important) making themselves look good to their own bosses. In most cases I could demonstrate that my crews (or my factory) had a better record on all those counts including safety and level of expertise. In fact in some cases I would guarantee such things as specific delivery times, offer discounts for early invoice payment and even an added cash refund if we failed to make any commitments on milestones or technical issues.

I took over one crew on a major manufacturer's international HQ and production site -- there were 6 other contractors on site with whom we had to compete for maintenance and construction jobs in the plant. Though we had the lowest rate per hour of any of them we struggled to keep a share of the work. The previous superintendent had kept desperately lowering the rates, hoping to get more work. After studying the on-site politics and talking a lot to the client's various area engineers who issued the purchase orders, I discovered that though they may have said "give me your best price" in all the requests for work quotes, their 3 primary concerns for getting their jobs done were timely completion, perfect safety and that the work looked nice (the plant had frequent tours of stakeholders.) So I raised our prices across the board to be higher than the other 6 firms. But I didn't just hand the engineers a new price list. I gave them a carefully written preamble that detailed how we had maintained such a perfect safety record on site that we were only one of two permitted to work in a Classified "exoplosive" zone of the plant, and we had been tapped to train the second contractor and to consult with the plant managers in devising their overall safety procedures. I listed the major jobs we had done over the previous 5 years pointing out that we had met or improved upon their production milestones in every case. I also demonstrated that I had the most skilled and well-trained crew, with the highest journeyman to apprentice ratio, that we had spent over $20,000 training those guys in the type of programmable controllers the plant used and we were not only maintaining an on-site and well-stocked service trailer but had added a radio system with repeater so the engineers could have who and what they needed wherever they needed in the vast plant within minutes. I promised to set up one personal point-man technician for each engineer. Then, once I had demonstrated why we were the "quality" go-to guys on site, I attached the new pricing and rates list.

Not only did nobody drop us, they actually more than doubled their orders to us over the next 3 years, even using us as the standard by which they expected other contractors to perform. Corporate policy required them to keep the other contractors in play, but the engineers often did so grudgingly and only when we were too busy to accommodate them (though some would postpone their projects until I had someone available.)

I also NEVER told a client that a tough project they presented to me was "no sweat, sure we can handle that, no problem.." That sort of bluffing "confidence" gets you nowhere fast. If you say something is easy and you stumble, you're a jerk in their eyes. If you pull it off, you get no accolades, just a spoiled customer who thinks they can snap their fingers and get whatever they want each time. If the job was tough (even only mildly so) I would state so, with good explanation as to why it would be a challenge: "your timeline for this is way too short", "you don't have your full design decisions made yet", "you are pushing it to expect to get that done over the winter", etc. But after laying all this out, I would then state that if they work closely with me, we can try our darnedest to get it done.

This serves several purposes. First it puts doubt in their minds regarding our competitors who have all said "oh sure, we can do that, no problem". The client is left wondering: do those other bidders really understand the complexity of this job? Are they just blowing smoke? Am I going to get shafted halfway through the job and look bad with my bosses? Many times these doubts were all that were needed for me to get the job, even at a slightly higher price (I would usually explain that I had contingencies built into the job and if we things went well and we didn't need them, he would get a credit at the end.) The second purpose is that alerting the client to the fact that the job is a challenge, not a cake walk, puts them in a better frame of mind to work with you to mitigate problems. The third purpose is that if problems arise or the schedule slips, then they knew to expect it and have to acknowledge you warned them. They will always be more willing to work with you to solve issues that arise if you did NOT tell them "no problem" at the outset.

The fourth and final purpose to this strategy is when you DO make that deadline and everything turns out well and you can credit them the contingencies you didn't have to use, you are a big hero. And you now have a grateful client who feels like they can rely on you to be upfront. Your performance even enables them to justify a higher cost to their own bosses; "this was a tough job but they got it done -- the extra cost was worth it".

These strategies work -- perceived value, personal service, honest communication and quality trump discount pricing if you know how to market it to your customers.
  who, me?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 7:05 PM (EST)
I appreciate the thought that went into that, but I don't think you meant to respond to me. I'm with you on this.
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-30-12 10:42 AM (EST)
....not you. Just misplaced the post on the "tree".
  Very well written.
  Posted by: Yanoer on May-30-12 7:31 PM (EST)
Must've taken a while, or you're just very good at written communications.
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 1:52 AM (EST)
all were quickly typed "stream of consciousness". Yup, admit I am pretty good at written communication. Have to be in my business as I am too small to be physically intimidating.
  only one way
  Posted by: radiomix on May-29-12 3:31 PM (EST)
You get a used p&h. Someone has to buy it new.

Ryan L.
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-29-12 7:05 PM (EST)
  tire kicking
  Posted by: angstrom on May-29-12 3:30 PM (EST)
I like to do it, but I'm clear that I'm just looking and won't be buying. Usually the store staff will just leave me alone, but if the store is quiet sometimes they're happy to talk about their gear. I do think the honesty is appreciated.

  Inside baseball
  Posted by: jdb on May-29-12 4:44 PM (EST)
I like these sort of "inside baseball" type threads, mainly because I know next to nothing about the kayak/paddling industry. But I'm hearing the same sorts of things I've gleaned about the bicycle industry and the same sorts of hand wringing about the "local shops". Now don't get me wrong - I love Mom & Pop's and shop them where and when I can. But Mom & Pop gotta realize that it ain't 1965 anymore; its a global economy now. They have to create some value that customers can't get from Supermart or, whether that means service, selection, quality of merchandise, classes, community involvement, whatever. It seems to me that the shops that do that survive and prosper. There is still a market for quality goods that can't and won't be satisfied by the bargain outlets.

As for REI, I don't know if deep down its really an evil big box store in disguise or really a little Seattle-based co-op "done good", but I do know that I can usually find what I need and get good value for my money. It sells entry-to-mid level "good stuff" and for most (but not all) of my outdoor equipment needs, that's good enough. I've also been pleasantly surprised at how active REI is here in Northern Virginia. I found out REI funded the construction of my favorite mountain bike trail, sponsors several biking and paddling programs I've taken part in, and supports my son's Boy Scout council. Maybe its not like that everywhere. But that's my experience, and I'm proud to be a member.
  Oh ye Sacred Cows, I bow down to you
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-29-12 6:58 PM (EST)
I was surprised when I met pnet administrators at a paddle sports show once. They seemed like perfectly decent people. How did they manage to let this forum degrade into such a cesspool? It resembles a Craigslist forum of DSM-IV codifiable misfits with an anger problem. There are more special interests here than in Washington, and they have zero tolerance for opinions that don't agree with their own. Do not even think of not kowtowing to the sacred cows here.

What??? You want to buy a kayak somewhere that's not within 10 miles of your home? You think saving $200 justifies running your local dealer into bankruptcy? You think REI is not the evil twin of Walmart? You dare to claim that one manufacturer uses thinner plastic than another? And that a kayak that you owned is not suited to certain conditions? Outrageous!!! You need to shape up and fly right, Bud.

If you bow down low enough and keep your opinions to yourself, you may be considered for membership in the pnet exclusive club of:

--People who can afford kayaks that are worth way more than your current car and who do not need to price shop
--Kayak dealers
--Manufacturer's reps
--Disgruntled former kayak dealers who couldn't compete and closed down
--Friends and associates of all of the above, plus friends of kayak designers
--Women who are overdosing on their testosterone supplements
--Consequently, men who now have to fight twice as hard to stay a step ahead of the women in the aggression department

If I ever come back to this forum it will only be because it helps grow hair on my chest.
  Price isn't every thing and yet those
  Posted by: jaws on May-29-12 10:56 PM (EST)
morons at Wal-Mart keep bragging about lower prices? How they stay in business is a wonder!!!!!
  other factors re Walmart
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-30-12 11:20 AM (EST)
Walmart's "success" is also due to having driven their smaller scale competitors out of business in rural and small town areas where there are now no other options. I have family across the mid West who have few other choices now for groceries and dry goods. In fact, a number of them who at first were thrilled to have a Walmart nearby 20 years ago, now complain about the poor selection and even the pricing, as well as the abandoned businesses that blight their "downtown" areas. (I bite my tongue, since I warned them that abandoning the community based stores they had relied on for generations would degrade the community.) In the small mountain town nearest my boyfriends home in north central PA, where he has lived most of his life, there used to be 9 grocers. Now there is one other chain food store 25 minutes away and a Walmart 8 minutes away.

Any really savvy consumer who does due diligence will discover that Walmart's "bargains" are not really so in many cases. They contract with major manufacturers to manufacturer and package products just for them that are cheaper or have smaller portions. One of uncles was defending his shopping there by saying since he was on a fixed income he couldn't "afford" treats like his package of Oreos but for Walmart's lower pricing. I happened to have a package of Oreos in my car we had bought at a small town grocer during our drive to visit him. We compared the two packages, which looked at first glance to be the same. His Walmart Oreos were 10.5 ounces for $2.77. Mine were 14 ounces for $3.29. So he paid over 26 cents per ounce for his cookies and I paid 23.5 cents. I learned later that he went through his cupboard and marked down weights and quantities of food items he had bought there and then took a trip to another chain in an adjacent town and did similar comparisions. Now he drives once a month to a neighboring city and stocks up at Weigmanns, Aldi and Trader Joe's and figures he saves enough to justify the few gallons of gas.

Same with items like Fruit of the Loom underwear. The ones shipped to Walmart are flimsier than the stock product. I bought a package myself one weekend last year when I realized I had forgotten to pack extras. These were, per the package, the identical model of which I have several pairs already, bought elsewhere. The 3 pairs from Walmart practically disintegrated after just a few months of washing and wearing. The fabric was so flimsy just the action of the waist elastic stretching wore holes in it.

When I first moved to Michigan in the mid 90's Walmart was still a burgeoning phenomenon -- I admit I shopped there for a couple of years and got some items that were decent quality (dry goods, clothing, hardware.) But now that I am exposed to their stock again when I am visiting up north (and they are the only game in town for items like that) I can't help but notice how cheesy the selections are, compared to when they were first opening stores. Why is this? Because they no longer have competition. Duh.

Walmart, and it's philosophy of "price trumps quality and business ethics" (or, as PT Barnum put it: "There's a sucker born every minute") will prevail as long as people in rural and small town America have few or no other options, and as long as people are too lazy or ignorant to actually look closely at what they are getting for their hard-earned dollars.

And to get back to the topic at hand -- Dick's Sporting goods does the same thing, forcing manufacturers to meet a fixed price point by cheapening their products for them. A Mad River "Passage 14" canoe may look just like a Mad River "Adventure 14", but the plastic is lower grade and the fit and fittings are cheaper.
  Two questions about Walmart
  Posted by: old_user on Jun-01-12 3:04 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jun-01-12 3:08 PM EST --

1. What do they do that is unethical? Lowering prices to make less profit does not count. Selling a cheaper product at a cheaper price also does not count unless they specifically mislead the public about what they are selling.

2. What should Walmart do to be more ethical yet still be a successful business? We must assume that being successful is not a bad thing or every store, event the local sole-proprietor shop is evil.

"When I first moved to Michigan in the mid 90's Walmart was still a burgeoning phenomenon -- I admit I shopped there for a couple of years "

So you put the local shops out of business and then complain about it afterwards?

I have no idea where to stand on the Walmart issue. I shop there because some of the exact same items I buy elsewhere are cheaper there and I need no service of any sort walking in an taking the items to the register.

If they undersell the competition then lower their quality once the local shops are gone, it seems like there is room for competition again and someone should open a local shop with the good stuff. then again, you can get the better stuff online so even Walmart does have competition, just not the sort that you like.


   You hit the nail on the head Dave!!!
  Posted by: jaws on Jun-01-12 4:11 PM (EST)
  stopped when I realized
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-02-12 4:18 AM (EST)
I sporadically shopped at Walmart in Michigan (in a large city where it had lots of similar sized competition) until I began to realize what they were doing to small town economies and became familiar with their purchasing strong arm techniques and employment policies, all of which I found personally odious. Thereafter I boycotted them completely, even when it meant driving out of my way to do so. It bothers me still to have to sometimes buy things there now when I am staying upstate with my boyfriend (since there are few or no other options there.)

"Ethical" is subjective and has a lot of grey area. Most of their business practices are technically legal (except the ones they are getting slapped for in Mexico now) but they have had deep and broad repercussions, largely negative, for retail marketing and manufacturing throughout the USA as well as being a major contributor to skewing the balance of trade with China. You're all free to shop where you please, but I prefer to not give them my money.

I used to be really distressed by the hypocrisy of the union electricians on my crews in Michigan who admitted to buying all their groceries at Walmart when the other large grocery chain in town was a locally owned one with a fully unionized staff. Their argument "but it's cheaper." My response, "Well, duh, they are paying union scale and benefits instead of minimum wages and no benefits. You are essentially crossing a picket line every day and thumbing your nose at your union brethren, just to save a few pennies." Some major cognitive dissonance there.
  after rereading
  Posted by: radiomix on May-30-12 12:48 AM (EST)
This topic, there seems to be only one poster who has lowered the level of discourse to name calling.

Ryan L.
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-30-12 10:20 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-30-12 10:40 AM EST --

I only detect one person here who seems to have his knickers in a twist. Methinks he doth protest too much. (didn't I mention the perils of "indignation"?)

Over the years I've participated in many forums covering professional and recreational topics, and with very rare exceptions, Pnet's is the most inclusive, tolerant and civilized, by far.

If anyone doesn't believe me, try flinging poo over at the QajaqUSA boards. You'd be beaten to a pulp with handcarved GP's and your bodily fluids used for SOF skin dope.

  Posted by: willowleaf on May-30-12 10:39 AM (EST)
A "cesspool"?

Really, I think you should take a deep breath and chill. Your tirade was really uncalled for. If you go back to my 5/25 2:09 post I stated that your response to the rude dealer was "only natural" and admitted I've had the same reaction. I empathized, did I not? (clearly my estrogen is intact.)

If you had not deleted your main portion of the thread you could go back and see that you provoked a good bit of the retorts that are so upsetting to you with your own sarcasm and testiness. Heated debates can be useful (we are all opinionated and both correct and incorrect to some degree) but walking out and then coming back to broadly flame everyone is non-constructive and childish. Note I did not say YOU were childish, just that your post was (there IS a difference.)

Agreeing to disagree is a necessity on threads like this -- if you can't help but take discursive challenges as personal insults, perhaps you need to rethink participating.

We don't want you to go away -- be a little more patient and you'll find this to be a useful (and broadly inclusive) resource for paddling info and camaraderie.
  Bow down? Not me.
  Posted by: Yanoer on May-30-12 2:28 PM (EST)
I paddle a canoe kneeling with a bent shaft paddle and use in-water recovery control strokes as well as kneel & switch.

I paddle a canoe sitting with a bent shaft paddle and use in-water recovery control strokes, as well as sit & switch.

I paddle a Mad River Monarch and Sawyer Loon without using the rudder for exercise paddles because I like using heeling, edging and fore & aft weight shifts in addition to paddle strokes for boat control just because I think it's fun.

I use a 17' sea kayak for day paddling in land locked central IL.

I bought an ugly beat up canoe and left it ugly and beat up because that way I don't care if I scratch it up more.

I have fallen in with those who gain greater pleasure from the use of lighter, better fitting and better handling boats and gear, Just because they greatly enhance my paddling pleasure. I did resist for several years.

I always look for the best bargain, but I always give local vendors the first chance.

Sometimes I buy local even if it's not the best rock bottom price, because it feels good and I want to retain local options.

Happy paddling.
  I'm feeling the love!
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-30-12 6:12 PM (EST)
Keep it coming. Especially Willowleaf---we're paying you by the word.
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 1:19 AM (EST)
I'll send you my PayPal account link so you can pay up.
  advice from an old sage (not me)
  Posted by: ret603 on May-31-12 8:00 AM (EST)

I've always enjoyed reading your many nuanced posts and have even learned from them at times. I have a suggestion of sage advice that helps maintain lower blood pressure;

"Avoid getting in a pissing contest with a skunk"

I foolishly allowed myself to rise to the bait a few weeks ago and have been carefully restraining myself since.


  thanks, rep
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 11:07 AM (EST)
I know where you are coming from and appreciate the concern. I agree on the folly of "pissing contest" but such exchanges as this current one don't raise my blood pressure at all -- in fact I find them amusing (and a respite from some dead time at work at this point). I'm a major project construction manager by profession. If I took dealing with passive aggressive and self-righteous types to heart I would have gone nuts or had a stroke years ago, since this business is full of them.

My success in my trade depends on keeping a cool head, having a mastery of the facts at hand and, most importantly, keeping my ego and emotions out of the game. In fact, I often "win" (which means gaining cooperation to get the results I need) by appearing to acquiesce to the person who is opposing me. People who "have to be right" are always the easiest to manipulate. When confronted with somebody trying to start a "pissing match" I offer them a bucket and then comment on their output. Keeping oneself free of the impulse towards being "proven right" is very liberating.

One of my favorite late 80's TV shows, "Thirty Something" had a great line in one episode that I have added to my own rules to live by:
"You can either be right or be happy...."
  entertainment value
  Posted by: willowleaf on May-31-12 11:16 AM (EST)
Besides, isn't following "passionate" threads like this more entertaining (and sometimes informative) than the endless reiterations of explaining to noobs why that $200 rec boat from Dick's may not be their best choice for circumnavigating Greenland?
   Some on this board are truly legends in
  Posted by: jaws on May-31-12 1:21 PM (EST)
their own minds.
  Thanks to all of you
  Posted by: DUUJ on May-31-12 3:28 PM (EST)
This has been...very, very, interesting.
  So, 10 days later the OP returns
  Posted by: pikabike on May-31-12 4:26 PM (EST)
Probably another troll post.
  Little did you know...
  Posted by: DUUJ on May-31-12 5:52 PM (EST)
I've been under the bridge all along.:)
  no troll
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-01-12 10:20 AM (EST)
I never thought you were a troll, but it must have been amusing to watch the other mythological creatures your thread attracted, including at least one harpy, a couple of cranky ogres and a self-professed hellhound.
  which would you classify me as?
  Posted by: sitka on Jun-01-12 11:19 AM (EST)
  classify you?
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-02-12 3:24 AM (EST)
Why, none of the above, fellow leftist (or are we fellow"pseudo intelligentsia"?)
  Posted by: DUUJ on Jun-01-12 4:53 PM (EST)
You are observant, and exceedingly prolific!
  That's a contradiction
  Posted by: Waterbird on Jun-12-12 9:31 AM (EST)
The best way to be observant is to listen. Being verbally prolific can sometimes get in the way of observing and learning.
  both are necessary
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-12-12 9:57 AM (EST)
Learning and teaching are not mutually exclusive. There is no sin in being "verbally prolific" if you have information worth sharing. If no one else speaks, what (pray tell) are you going to be observant about and listening to?

Simply harvesting other's experiences and instruction and not contributing your own is more of a social offense than "verbosity."

Particularly in a written forum, participants have the option of skimming or even ignoring posts they feel are too long. But others enjoy them. I have gleaned a great deal of excellent information and entertainment from the long posts of fellow p-netters (and well written, even clever, shorter posts as well). I type as quickly as I think, so I am apt to lay out a lot of information when I write. In actual conversations I am much more concise, which is more appropriate in face to face interactions to allow for the exchange among participants.

Being "verbose" or "thorough" is a subjective judgement.
  Balance is the key
  Posted by: Waterbird on Jun-12-12 10:02 AM (EST)
, isn't it?
  Margins are low!
  Posted by: No_Kayak on Jun-12-12 8:06 AM (EST)
In my experience in composites, dealers will max out at about 42% margin. Distributors tend to take 15%-25% or so.

There isn't a lot of money in retailing a low volume of composite kayaks.

What you seem to find is heavy discounting of some products due to their distributor or manufacturer forcing far too much stock onto the dealer network.

Quite a few NDK dealers got stuck with container loads that took 2 to 3 years to shift according to some of them.
  wholesale Kayaks
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-28-13 4:21 PM (EST)
Did you ever find a whole distributor? Because I am looking to buy about 5 and need "real" wholesale prices.. thanks! RC


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