Buy Now and Save

Monday, August 25th, 2008

by Dennis DiPaolo

Ask your parents about inflation in the 1970s; fueled by rising oil prices (is that a pun?). Then buy up any pool or patio items that you expect to need next year. If they are on clearance sale now, you are going to save twice. Even if it is not on sale, you are going to save once.

What’s going on? All of our vendors have been passing along price increases of 5% to 25% since last October. On top of that, transportation costs to get things here have over doubled in two years. We haven’t raised prices yet because we normally order 70% of our year’s requirements in October and pay for them early. As products went up this year, they were only on the last 30%, so we just ate the increase. However, I shudder to think what we will see during October Pre- Season purchasing.

Chinese imports are rumored to be going up 25% this winter: due to oil increases, the drop in the dollar, ocean freight, and shortages due to the ban on manufacturing anywhere near Beijing for months before the Olympics in order to reduce air pollution. While we buy very little directly from China, we know right well that lots of the materials used by American manufacturers were originally made there.

For those of us living on the east coast, we pay more for Chinese products than people on the west coast because it costs $7500 to ship a container by truck from Long Beach, California to Boston. The big container ships can’t fit through the Panama Canal! That’s also why we sell Alaskan oil to Japan, and import Arabian oil to heat houses in New England. Big oil tankers fit through the Suez Canal but not through the Panama Canal.

We will continue to do our best to cut expenses and keep our prices as low as possible. We have also been paying cash to buy out our competitors when they go out of business, and it looks like we will pick up some real bargains next month. Everything helps.

Some folks assume we must be more expensive because we have actual help that helps you, and serious professionals who can fix your problems. They should try shopping around. I wrote down all the pool supply prices in Wal-Mart and Lowe’s on July 3rd. I had to read the ingredients pretty carefully to see what was in the chemicals because hardly anything was the same as we carry. We ended up being cheaper than them about as often as they were cheaper than us! Sure, we carry some expensive items, but we’re not afraid to carry cheaper alternatives, too.

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