You're absolutely right.
Over the last twenty years we've seen a huge shift to this "global
Walmart" approach. Everything mass retail is now cheaper than it was
twenty years ago, even in dollar terms, not just in real terms.
Tool-wise I used to have the best toolkit on the block when I was just
starting out, now B&Q (our orange borg) are selling tools I only
dreamed of back then, and the TV shows suggest you can't do a thing
unless you own the latest colour of plastic sanding machine.
Everything now is made in the same handful of Chinese factories, works
equally badly, breaks in no time and the only discriminator left is
price. So we take a full-steam-ahead slam into a Thatcherite monopoly
where the only retailers left are Walmart and McDonalds. "Competitive"
pricing delivers low prices, but it also removes every retailer except
the very highest up the size and economy scale.
But I don't want cheap tools, I want _good_ tools. I now have the
ability to affordably buy more rubbish tools than I could previously
imagine. So why am I buying so few of them ? Why does my Dad bring
back a bagful of junk every time he goes shopping, and I don't even
bother looking unless it's either 50 years old or was hand-made by
elves somewhere and with a pricetag to match. I would _love_ to deal
with someone who's makign the product I want to buy, and sticking a
reasonable markup on it. I won't even look at the price tag ! I'll
maybe buy fewer of them, or wait longer before I buy it, but I'm
basically going to buy that grommet-flanger someday because I've
already decided I need one, whatever the price, not just because its
under $5 and her off the telly was using one.
Strangely one of the few companies left doing what you bemoan the lack
of seems to be Lee Valley. I agree with what you claim to be in favour
of ! So why are you then griping and applauding Princess Auto, when
they indulge in the sort of barrel-scraping I abhor ?
LV aren't making Holteys. They aren't shifting a million Eeezy-Set
"Handyman" models every week. They're developing and manufacturing a
tool (like their bench planes) that steals every good idea out there,
then manufactures it to the highest standard that a bench woodworker
can notice. And then the pricetag is still better than all the other
companies that are even vaguely comparable.
Mainly they've gone bust. The mass-market just isn't buying on that
basis. Record are gone. Clifton make their real money from megabuck
tools for aerospace. Stanley has been junk for years.
I was making a point.
Princess Auto is just one of the companies that buy the same third party stuff
Lee Valley does but sells it at a much lower price.
I'm not disputing that Lee Valley has a line of superior tools of their own.
Unfortunately I'm a power tool fanatic, hand tools are not for me.
I have dozens of tools, kitchen, and garden items from Lee Valley.
They are my #1 Christmas gift supplier, have been for years.
All my saw blades, bandsaw blades, sanding supplies, all come from Lee Valley.
I have bought out the gift item store.
From 5 strobe flashlights (very popular with teens) to 4 kitchen Cleavers, and
three Lee Valley knife sets. My last two wedding gifts came from Lee Valley and
the recipients are now big Lee Valley fans themselves.
If it's stainless and for the kitchen I've bought it from Lee Valley. I never
compared price. I never shopped around.
I just got tired of seeing Americans pay less than me in EVERY succeeding Lee
Valley catalog. From a Canadian company!
I'm not surprised to see all the Americans in this group support Robin.
We Canadians get hosed, so they can get a deal.
True, we still have a few who service the construction trade in my area.
Sorry, my original 'whining' post was ON topic for this news group by virtue of
Robin Lee's participation here.
Now that this has become a flame war rather than a rational discussion of the
facts, every post is on topic.
Even your lame assed post.<g>
In your other thread on those aluminum bar clamps, you state that
Princess Auto claims their product is identical to the LV clamps. Can
you *VERIFY* this? (Andy has posted a cursory analysis saying they are
not the same.) I think you can provide real value (and real
information) to this newsgroup by doing a comparison. A webpage with
some close-up photos and your review of the two products would add
serious weight to your claim, assuming they are the same. (And LV will
of course take their clamp back if you decide it's not worth the price
If I were close to the Mississauga Princess Auto I'd go over and take a
look... but I'm not.
In my town I can buy an awful lot of "third party stuff" that looks
the same. Product development seems to be on the basis of one factory
blatantly copying another. But this low-end stuff usually isn't
_quite_ the same, if you look closely. If you ever see a new sort of
Chinese clamp selling for .99c, then buy a handful, and buy them that
day. Because by the time the second boatload lands, they'll have
worked out how to make them more cheaply and less well.
If the US$ had done better, the US consumer would take a hit and LV would
get and exchange bonus. At the same time sales would be likely lost due to
the percieved increase in pricing mitigating that "windfall".
The system is brought about by LV's business decision to set prices, publish
and annual catalog and then stick with the published pices for the entire
year. This is a choice that I as a consumer appreciate.
Sidebar: My dad had the unpleasant experience of having to argue with a
McFeeleys rep to get a product to the price listed in a current catalogue.
It's a good example of the alternative. Personally I think Mcfeeleys screws
are great but *My* first-hand experience was that their customer service
....well it ain't LV.
The downside to LV's policy is that they end up selling at prices based on
an exchange rate that is up to 16 months old.
It seems to me that the *only* way to satisfy your concerns are the
1. Floating US pricing based on exchange - A serious turn off to US
customers because they can't look at a product an know what it costs
2. Only sell in CAD funds and thet the credit card companis work the
exchange - Essentially the same thing
3. Make the catalogs/pricing pulication quarterly.
Robert you do have a point that ultimately the whole customer base pays for
the conversion "expenses" incurred by LV in terms of next year's pricing.
So, in a very convoluted way, you are subsidizing my tool habit. Thank you.
However, when I go to the stupidmarket for a gallon of milk at $4.09 (which
the retailer uses as a cash cow) Am I not subsidizing the tuna eaters (of
which I am not one) who can buy the loss-leading Tuna which you yourself
have driven down in price?
That's it, I'm pissed at Robert for spiraling down the tuna costs so that I
have to pay more for milk!
What are the options if a Canadian wants to take their business elsewhere?
I've checked the LV prices against other companies' products and the
prices aren't much lower elsewhere. Some are higher and some are lower.
Overall, LV prices are a tad high, but with LV in business, I know I
can get good to superb quality tools and widgets at a reasonable price.
If I lose LV, I get to buy very expensive stuff from the US or buy
mostly crap locally. I'm willing to pay a few bucks more to get LV
products reliably (and I've got two stores within an hour's drive :-)
LV has not raised their prices significantly in the last year. What
has happened is that the US$ has sunk a lot. If C$ pricing was fair
in the past, then why is it suddenly high just because the US$ is
falling through the floor?
Quit yer bellyaching. I'd gladly trade a gazillion Walmarts for one LV.
You should be grateful.
If you don't think this little public display of annoyance will make Lee Valley
bean counters consider their future Canadian pricing a little more carefully you
don't understand business.
I do understand business. I know why there are a gazillion Walmarts
and only a few LVs. I'm not interested in business - I'm interested
in getting good value for my money. I've been getting that from LV
for years. You've been complaining, but I ain't buying it.
For all your warnings and complaints against Lee Valley Tools, there's one
thing you haven't commented on and that's Princess Auto's reputation for
selling low end products. I live in Ontario and I've been to one of their
stores a few times. The products they sell are almost always a cheap
knock-off from the original product, a no name product, or an off brand name
that very few have heard off. Anybody viewing their online catalogue can
confirm that in an instant. The place reeks of low quality.
I don't know about the bar clamps that you're comparing to Lee Valley, but
from the few times I've visited Princess Auto, I'd wouldn't buy from them
unless I needed something really quick and they were nearby. I certainly
wouldn't expect that product to fulfill any long lasting need.
Pricing based on cost is fundamentally flawed. (I'm making some
assumptions on what you mean when you say "fair markup" - that the price
is somehow algorithmically related to only the cost. If I'm wrong, I'm
sure you'll let me know...)
What if a product was of a certain utility but cost much more to produce
than the value the product provided? Would you charge the usual markup
over the high production cost? Nobody would buy it.
What if a product provided immense utility, time or labor savings, etc.,
and you could only charge the standard markup over cost? This would be
a major disincentive for inventing anything new and better; why would
you spend all that R&D money? Your benefit for your innovation would
be limited to your standard markup (but you'd probably get everyone
buying your thing instead of the other).
If you can invent something that provides immense value (patent it), you
can set a price that reflects this value provided, and customers who see
the value will gladly pay the price. The cost basically determes profit
(or lack thereof).
Just to throw a wrench into everything, read this:
I'll stop you there.
I don't expect Lee Valley to return to that type of pricing.
It not realistic in today's competitive marketplace.
I was just annoyed when I made that statement.
But the point I made about competitive pricing eating thousands of tons of trees
in order to feed the marketplace almost daily PHONEY sales flyers in our
newspapers and mailboxes was valid.
My annoyance with Lee Valley rests with every year seeing Americans paying less
for the same product I buy. Many of those MADE IN CANADA!
Robin has admitted that because the competitive marketplace in the US demands it
he must give his American customers a better deal.
Well I don't have to like it and will continue to say so.
If you have evidence to back up this egregious accusation, please
produce it. He said that they set their prices when they print their
catalog, and thereafter price differences accrue as the currency
exchange rates change. The better deal for American customers is only
an artifact of their falling dollar. Rob Lee has no control on the
value of the U.S. dollar; it is completely out of his hands.
(remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
On Mon, 01 Nov 2004 19:04:02 GMT, email@example.com (Ken Muldrew) wrote:
Um, no, he did not say that. He said prices are set differently to compete in
the different market places. Less competition in Canada means Lee Valley can
charge higher prices to Canadians.
He does have control of prices charged on the Lee Valley website.
But he also admitted he needs the exorbitant profits made on Canadian sales to
offset the low prices paid by Americans.
Rob Lee considers this fair, I don't. It's as simple as that.
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