Recently, I had to purchase a box of envelopes after discovering that I didn’t have any at home. With online bill pay, the need for envelopes just isn’t top of mind in my home. However, once in a while you need to actually send a check via mail.
Anyway, I added buying envelopes to the list of things I needed to get done on that day. So, on my way to a local Wal-Mart, I spotted an office supply store very close to my destination and immediately thought “Envelopes!”. So, I stopped on in and searched for envelopes.
Once I found the aisle with envelopes in the office supply store, I narrowed my search to the standard security-lined variety. In doing so, I was searching for the best value. After all, an envelope is an envelope, right? Now, I didn’t want to buy in bulk and buy too many, so I settled upon a box of 45 for the price of $4.49.
After I paid, I got back in the car and drove over to Wal-Mart. As I walked into Wal-Mart, I quickly went through the store picking up the few items that I needed. Before I got to the checkout area I thought about my envelope purchase just 20 minutes ago from the other store. That got me curious about what the cost would be for envelopes from Wal-Mart, so I walked over to the supplies area to look for envelopes and satisfy my curiosity.
As I found the envelopes section, I quickly found a box of security-lined envelopes. A glance at the price yielded a surprising figure: $0.97. That’s right, 97 cents!
I did a double take, and it was definitely $0.97 for a box of envelopes. I then looked at the box, and yes – it was for security lined envelopes. I very quickly thought “what about the number of envelopes in the box, maybe there are less”. Well, I looked at the box and it indicated that there were 40 envelopes in the box.
So let’s revisit the prices again (excluding taxes):
Office Supply Store: 45 envelopes for $4.49 – about 10 cents per envelope
Wal-Mart: 40 envelopes for $0.97 – about 2.5 cents per envelope
Basically, it cost me 400% more to buy envelopes from the office supply store vs. Wal-Mart. But wait – isn’t the former an office supply store after all?
Well, it might be, but that doesn’t mean that prices will be lower there. Now, for all I know the envelopes from Wal-Mart might have been a bit lower quality. Who knows? But as I mentioned before, an envelope is an envelope for these purposes, right? To pay 4 times as much at an office store seems a bit crazy.
Doing so would almost be like ignoring coupons or coupon codes that could instantly help save money. For example, for a different type of purchase in an entirely different store – let’s say soaps, lotions, etc – you could take advantage of a coupon code to save money. So clearly, across product categories and stores, there are ways that we can save money.
Anyway, back to my specific experience – I went ahead and bought another box of envelopes, this second one from Wal-Mart. I had to go back the other direction anyway, and then stopped at the office supply store and returned the envelopes I had bought there.
- Just because a certain store specializes in a certain type of product, it doesn’t mean that it offers a better price than a general retailer
- Prices for given products can vary significantly from store to store – even as much as 400%! 🙂
My Questions for You:
- Have you ever bought something at one store, then discovered that you could have purchased it cheaper somewhere else?
- Have you ever noticed any products for which there’s a wide range in prices, depending on where you buy them?