buying batteries at radio shack

I’m the new, hand-me-down and somewhat unhappy owner of a Galaxy Note II phone. I don’t care about the second-hand or old tech part: I just don’t like Android phones all that much and I do like Windows phones, as noted here at length. Plus, of course the thing doesn’t have f.m. – I’m doing this strictly because Android has apps, including several connected to my work, that WinPhones don’t have.

Anyway, the thing needed a battery. I left it on charge overnight and what was already in the phone peaked at about 80 percent, after eight or nine hours on the wall socket. So out I went out this morning, looking for a replacement battery.

Remember, this is the Galaxy Note II, the phone everyone wanted three years ago. So of course you can’t buy a battery for it now at Best Buy or the Verizon store in the mall where we bought the phone in 2012 for $325 plus a two year contract. Even the guy at the “we fix cellphones” kiosk shrugged.

Surprisingly, Radio Shack had one, with a charger (though only sort of). What interests me is what I paid: with tax, it was a hair under $27. Amazon routinely sells replacement Note II batteries in the $8 – $10 range, so I paid 2.5X what I could have.

Arright. I paid to get the battery right now, as opposed to waiting until Monday or Tuesday. And I paid to be able to return it locally if doesn’t work out. The thing has a 30 day guarantee. I can’t say I paid for the charger, which is really only half a charger and requires you to have the wall plug and USB cord already.

What I really paid for, of course, was the store and the guy’s salary. Assuming Radio Shack paid $6-$7 for the item – and I can’t imagine it being more – they probably made something on the order of $18 on me. If the guy is making, say, $11 an hour, that gets the store’s money down to $7. This is not a busy store. It’s tucked away in a plaza and…it’s a Radio Shack. If they do five of me an hour, they’re only putting $35 in the till, or a little over $300 a day.

I’m sure I’m missing some big piece of the picture here, but looked at this way, I don’t see how small retail goes forward. Amazon can aggregate demand on a vast scale – how many people wanted to buy a Note II battery this morning and were ok waiting? – and the merchant behind the sale doesn’t have to have a real store at all. Had I not felt I needed the battery now, I absolutely would have ordered through Amazon myself – and driven another tiny nail into my little town’s retail trade.


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