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Old 07-19-2016, 01:20 PM   #41
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Interesting perspectives, especially regarding Amazon.

I actually consider Amazon the return of the small business, especially with regards to niche products. Just because it says amazon.com at the beginning of the URL doesn't necessarily mean Amazon processed or fulfilled the order.

I work with a guy that sells reconditioned parts for construction equipment, and nearly 80% of his sales are now through Amazon. Of course amazon takes a cut of the profits, but the sheer volume and reduction in advertising and marketing more than makes up for it.
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Old 07-19-2016, 01:34 PM   #42
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I purchase my boat stuff in the following order from:

1. Amazon
2. Defender
3. West Marine

Usually Amazon beats them all, but not always. A few weeks ago I ordered a plastic fresh water strainer from Amazon. It came in three styles and the one I wanted was barb fittings. The one I got had screwed fittings. So I returned it and ordered it again, hoping it was a fluke. I got screwed fittings again. And I noticed that the package wasn't marked to indicate which of the three was inside, although a knowledgeable look see could immediately tell. But I didn't expect Amazon to ever do that and get it right, so I ordered from Defender at $10 more including shipping. I got the right one.

I am glad to have all three suppliers available for what they do best: Amazon cheap and superb customer service; Defender almost as cheap, great inventory and superb customer service; WM local and quick.

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Old 07-19-2016, 02:49 PM   #43
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I really don't buy from Amazon for 2 reasons.

1) When I buy online I don't want to pay sales tax

There are plenty of good firms, in adjacent states, Defender, Hamilton, Jamestown, that do internet, employ real people to talk to, don't have to charge me sales tax, and even have stores if I want to go there.

Sales tax is double taxation, I'd rather give it to UPS or FedX, they earn it.
If you don't like the tax structure in your state, vote for legislators to change it. When we (yes, me as well) buy things online and are not charged sales tax we are still required by law to submit the tax to the state. I don't do it on my personal purchases but do on my business purchases in the form of use tax.

I agree with B above in that our state's would be much better off if the states and federal government could figure out how to collect sales tax on online purchases. By not paying tax on our online purchases we are simply shifting the tax burden to those who don't have the option of making online purchases. Sales tax is regressive enough already. FWIW, my state has sales tax and high property tax but no income tax.
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Old 07-19-2016, 02:58 PM   #44
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I would assume Most of us are in our 50s up to our 70s on a boating website like this. The Internet, and the world in general have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. I agree with comments regarding small businesses, however this global economy thing is not going away and that includes Amazon and other online purveyors of marine equipment. I too am glad I am getting towards the end of my career. my future aspirations consist of being a boat bum, And finally getting a tax refund come April 15.
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Old 07-19-2016, 03:31 PM   #45
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Sales tax is double taxation...

How is a sales (use) tax double taxation?

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Old 07-19-2016, 03:48 PM   #46
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How is a sales (use) tax double taxation?

-Chris
Just a guess but the income was first taxed in income tax, then the same money is taxed again when spent. Of course in states with both an income and sales tax the argument could be made that the money is taxed 3 times, 2 income taxes and a state sales tax.
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Old 07-19-2016, 05:22 PM   #47
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How is a sales (use) tax double taxation?

-Chris
Every time you buy a used car, boat, or anything used other people have paid the sales tax before, sometimes multiple times.
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Old 07-19-2016, 06:30 PM   #48
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Just a guess but the income was first taxed in income tax, then the same money is taxed again when spent. Of course in states with both an income and sales tax the argument could be made that the money is taxed 3 times, 2 income taxes and a state sales tax.
I'd have thought more useful to be irritated by an income tax than a use tax. Income tax has nothing to do with the cost of government, nor especially the specific parts of government goods and services that each individual actually uses either directly or indirectly.


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Every time you buy a used car, boat, or anything used other people have paid the sales tax before, sometimes multiple times.
I guess. OTOH, another way to look at it is that each buyer pays for the time period associated with their use. Gotta pay for infra-structure somehow, or else do without -- as some places do. FWIW, I prefer to pay only for the parts I use (perhaps roads and related, as a direct benefit in the car example).

Bottom line, for me: I can live with use taxes. I think income-based taxes are evil.

-Chris
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Old 07-19-2016, 07:51 PM   #49
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Taxes are by far the biggest "living" expense for me (several times more than earth-bound housing). I don't consider my lifestyle "rich" except for my boat (overseas travel, second and third class, is a close match). Fortunately, the boat's expense (property taxes, marina fees, repair and maintenance, insurance, etc.) goes directly into the USA economy.

I sure would like the opportunity to fly business class and cruise on a ship with an exterior cabin or even in a suite.
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Old 07-19-2016, 09:35 PM   #50
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I don't have a problem with a company trying to make a profit, but so often I see people making shopping decisions that are ultimately against their own interests.

I have an Optometric practice in a small town. Walmart came in 10 years ago. Immediately the whole area started shopping there because in general it is a low income area. Some of the folks that shopped there were the employees of a local auto parts store. Walmart put them out of business within the first year. The local sporting goods store lasted a little longer putting the Walmart shoppers that worked there out of business.

Beyond the Mom and Pop we have a medium sized chicken production facility. They are able to sell to Walmart which is great for their business. However they are now hooked. Walmart has a business model that has them become a business's primary customer so there are some great years. Then Walmart starts to squeeze the price point. The producer has no choice but to agree because they no longer can survive without Walmart. Eventually that chicken producer will fail and Walmart will move to the next producer and repeat the process. My point is that it is those employees of the chicken producer who can least afford to shop at Walmart and support the business that will eventually cost them their job. But that is fine, once they are unemployed they too can go to work for Walmart at minimum wage and collect welfare and Medicaid to support their family while continuing to shop at Walmart because they now have no financial choice.
I am so glad that I no longer have to compete with Wal-Mart! They were into my end of the business in the end. I sold my lab to the big E a while back ( I'm sure Dave you know who I mean) and never looked back. The big retailers just about killed us. Optical has become a tough business!
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Old 07-19-2016, 09:50 PM   #51
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My father is a retired optometrist and made a high-middle-income living. Glad I didn't follow as that's not possible as an individual practitioner since 1990 or so.
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Old 07-19-2016, 10:22 PM   #52
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I'm strongly opposed to internet companies not being required to collect and remit sales tax. That puts our states in a bind, costs us all some other way, and puts them on an uneven footing. And, yes, I do ship out of state and don't collect sales tax because that's not the system. The buyer is supposed to pay use tax but we know they won't.
Maybe I missed it in a post: Can you share with us ... what you ship out of state.
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Old 07-19-2016, 11:07 PM   #53
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I am so glad that I no longer have to compete with Wal-Mart! They were into my end of the business in the end. I sold my lab to the big E a while back ( I'm sure Dave you know who I mean) and never looked back. The big retailers just about killed us. Optical has become a tough business!
Yup. Essilor and Hoya have either bought up or put the smaller independent labs out of business. As a customer of the labs, it is with mixed results. I miss the fact that I could call the lab owner about a job that I had a problem with and I was talking to someone who know the industry, knew patients, and knew my practice. We had a common goal of serving the needs of the patient and their good service was repaid by my loyalty and my loyalty was repaid by good service, win, win, win.

Now the lab managers change with the seasons and there isn't the same level of service or concern for the patients. The level of service we are getting is far worse than we had in the past. OTOH, we are seeing some incredible products from both the big players who are each pushing each other in the R&D area.

There is certainly room in this industry for the cheap, low quality products that are sold by Walmart, Costco, and the like. They do meet a need. For me, I'd rather deal with quality materials that I, and my lab, can stand behind.
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Old 07-19-2016, 11:11 PM   #54
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My father is a retired optometrist and made a high-middle-income living. Glad I didn't follow as that's not possible as an individual practitioner since 1990 or so.
It is very difficult but then most of my income now is derived from providing medical eye services, not the more tradition vision care. My grandfather, father, as well as an uncle were all optometrists. The profession today is something my grandfather would hardly recognize. I do have a nephew though that wants to join my partner and I when he gets out of optometry school in a couple years. I just don't know if I will be able to pay him enough to service his school debt load. Have I mentioned that debt is evil?
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Old 07-19-2016, 11:27 PM   #55
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Maybe I missed it in a post: Can you share with us ... what you ship out of state.
A pretty wide variety of things from jewelry to phones to a little bit of apparel and a little furniture. We do a little bit of a lot of things but not a lot of any.
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:27 AM   #56
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I use to have a brick and mortar scuba diving store. People would come in and try on dive gear to get the size correct and then buy it mail order. Had a sign in the store for regulator (breathing apparatus) repair.

SHOP LABOR RATES:
$60 per hour
$100 per hour if you purchased it somewhere else
$150 per hour if you would like to watch
$200 per hour if you worked on it first

People would ask if I was kidding. Nope, to my good customer I would offer a competitive labor rate and take care or the manufacturers extended parts warranties. To everybody else, I'll get to you after I take care of the people who keep me in business.

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I'd spend every diving dollar I had in this store. Seeing a message like this tells me that a business knows what they're about, is passionate about their product, and wants a relationship with their customer well beyond today's transaction.

Of course there's plenty of folks that would sacrifice the opportunity to deal with an exceptional business to save 10 or 20%, ergo the elegance of the sign.
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:50 AM   #57
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I'd spend every diving dollar I had in this store. Seeing a message like this tells me that a business knows what they're about, is passionate about their product, and wants a relationship with their customer well beyond today's transaction.

Of course there's plenty of folks that would sacrifice the opportunity to deal with an exceptional business to save 10 or 20%, ergo the elegance of the sign.
If I'm going to dive, I want the best expert, most competent person I can find. It's much like buying a parachute. Not a place I'd recommend trying to save a few dollars.

I like to deal with people who are professional and reasonable or fair. I'm loyal and expect them to be and I'll pay their going rates. Now, if I do find them taking advantage of me, then I'll move on, but that rarely happens when you have a solid two way relationship.
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:06 AM   #58
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We are in the unique position of having a West Marine "anchor store" in town and we are close to Defender Industries. This gives us the best of all worlds in terms of availability, pricing and service. The West Marine is literally on the way between our home and the boats slip. The people there know us, they are helpful and friendly and their after purchase support is simply amazing.
For example, one of the 4 Calmfro fans I purchased one summer began to vibrate and make noise. I removed it and walked into the store with the fan and walked out with a warranty replacement no questions asked 5 minutes later.
This on something West Marine price matched with Defender 11 months before!
So, obviously we spend money at West Marine!
We do spend money with the local chandler is too. They are invaluable for the quick small items you need on the fly. I tend to glance at the prices but in general just pay what they want and appreciate the service. I've tried making larger purchases there for project work but it didn't work out so well. Prices tend to be high and when items are ordered incorrectly (their mistake) I've seen restocking fee's on my bill. It is not worth the strife to argue. I even ended up purchasing incorrectly ordered through hull's that I can't use and just keeping them at home on a boat shelf rather than going through the pain of trying to return them...
With West Marine, Defender or even Amazon return would have been effortless!

In the end, we shop based on convenience for the most part. If I'm in the middle of a project and need a blade for a saw, I'm driving to Fall River where they have exactly what I want.
One interesting result of the consumer-online-purchase-reality is that it is now more difficult to find a given item locally. No one stocks anything anymore...

If a company doesn't have the item I'm looking for, I'm online ordering it myself. Need a new razor? Amazon is the only way to go. Electronics for the upcoming boat? West a Marine or Defender depending on the brand we choose...
There are lots of options out there.

One other side effect of ordering via computer is that I find the number of order mistakes diminish drastically. I went through the same shift in my business 20 years ago when we were introduced to online parts ordering software. Asking for front 11.2" OEM front brake rotors sometimes resulted in 10" aftermarket rear rotors... This was actually a very common scenario before the order software. The problem essentially went away when we could control the order.

Those seacocks I have downstairs on a shelf are a result of a misunderstood order...

Sigh,
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:33 AM   #59
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The long run development of the retail trade is interesting. Almost 50 years ago I sat in a business school class that examined the history of retail selling for a couple of hundred years through the then present day.

What I most remember is the continual decrease in the margin between the manufacturers price and the final retail price. 200 years ago that margin was over 200% whereas in the decades before my class it was normally 100%. Meaning an item which the manufacturer sold for $1 would retail for $2. The difference was a combination of distribution cost and profit by the middlemen and retailer. At that time this price was called "Keystone". What was interesting at the time was the retail operation "K-Mart" which through a series of efficiencies was able to sell at a 32% mark-up. At this time (late 60s) Sam Walton was just expanding outside of the Arkansas area. Walton's formula was then based on a 16% mark-up. He accomplished this by a hundred small changes in the distribution network not just holding prices down for the manufacturers.

As a side issue we reviewed how the drop in the retail price of goods (relative to wages) which this accomplished over generations had affected the quality and quanity of goods in the hands of the public, from scarcity to today's glut. This was summarized by the statement which went something like, when shoes were sold by the cobbler who made them we had many cobblers but only half the population had shoes.

Thus the evolution of the retail trade continues. In Chicago, Amazon has same day delivery and it collects the sales tax. Amazon has gotten the post office to even deliver packages on Sunday.

We will lose a few big box stores, yes, but there are those of us who believe our streets are too cluttered with big box stores, gas stations and bank branches. A few less won't hurt.
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:41 AM   #60
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The long run development of the retail trade is interesting. Almost 50 years ago I sat in a business school class that examined the history of retail selling for a couple of hundred years through the then present day.

What I most remember is the continual decrease in the margin between the manufacturers price and the final retail price. 200 years ago that margin was over 200% whereas in the decades before my class it was normally 100%. Meaning an item which the manufacturer sold for $1 would retail for $2. The difference was a combination of distribution cost and profit by the middlemen and retailer. At that time this price was called "Keystone". What was interesting at the time was the retail operation "K-Mart" which through a series of efficiencies was able to sell at a 32% mark-up. At this time (late 60s) Sam Walton was just expanding outside of the Arkansas area. Walton's formula was then based on a 16% mark-up. He accomplished this by a hundred small changes in the distribution network not just holding prices down for the manufacturers.

As a side issue we reviewed how the drop in the retail price of goods (relative to wages) which this accomplished over generations had affected the quality of goods in the hands of the public, from scarcity to today's glut. This was summarized by the statement which went something like, when shoes were sold by the cobbler who made them we had many cobblers but only half the population had shoes.

Thus the evolution of the retail trade continues. In Chicago, Amazon has same day delivery and it collects the sales tax. Amazon has gotten the post office to even deliver packages on Sunday.

We will lose a few big box stores, yes, but there are those of us who believe our streets are too cluttered with big box stores, gas stations and bank branches. A few less won't hurt.
Great post! Thanks!! - Art
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