Chris Alexander

On Engineering

The trouble with retail stores

28th January, 2018

Online shopping has clearly become a key part of how people buy things over the years, becoming a force to be reckoned with largely due to the discounts it can offer without having to maintain physical stores and all the staff that come with them. Physical shopping has been making more of a comeback though recently, with stores focussing on experiences and better ranges of products and prices increasingly prevalent and successful.

However, some events from last night reminded me that there is still a long way to go.

I am finishing off a metalworking project, creating a small display for some trinkets to go in the house. I have a piece of plate aluminimum, about 4mm thick, that I have been cutting for this purpose. I ended up doing a large chunk of it at the weekend as I needed to use the electic saw and I don’t think that racket would have gone down well with the neighbours if I had started it at 8pm one weeknight!

In the course of this project yesterday, I realised two things. The first is that I would need a new junior hacksaw, standing as I was with the hacksaw handle in my right hand and the blade and main saw body still in the piece in the vice. The second was that I would need some metal files, which I don’t have, to smooth off the rough edges I had been cutting and drilling.

(A new drill I recently bought, this Boschhammer, is an absolute demon and made short work of the metal).

My first thought was to pop down to B&Q and pick them up. But the problem here was time and price. It is at least a 30 minute round trip, plus time shopping; and B&Q’s prices vary wildly - some things are great deals but a lot of stuff is just overpriced.

Often I would have made the trip to B&Q if I could have checked their prices, but it appears that they still don’t really get online shopping - their website is pretty useless and completely separate from their store operations, meaning stuff is in the stores that isn’t online, or has different prices, or doesn’t exist in the store when it is online. This all adds up to uncertainty and in the end I just ordered them on Amazon - the prices may have been better at B&Q but I had a huge choice to compare from, and a decent junior hacksaw and a set of five metal files are turning up today. There’s not even much of a delay due to Amazon Prime!