mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Will drugstores be the death of retail electronics?

I'm in NJ for a family function, and thought it would be nice to bring my digital camera with me and get some pictures of the relatives whose names I can never remember, or quite figure out how are related to me.

So I pulled out my camera last night, and discovered that I'd forgotten to bring a memory card with me. Evidently, packing at 11pm the night before you leave is a recipe for forgetting something. My mom remembered that I'd given her my old digital camera (which she's never touched) and had left the memory card in there. It was 16mb. Not much help.

Which meant that I would need to buy a card. I lamented on a thread on Fatwallet how much I hate paying retail for stuff, especially for something I've got 10 of sitting at home. A few people mentioned that Walgreen's, of all places, had a 1 gig SanDisk for $10.

So I ended up going there, instead of Circuit City where I planned on going. It helped that Walgreen's was open 24 hours, while CC didn't open until 10am. They had plenty of cards, and I was in and out in 10 minutes, passing up the chance to buy some free after rebate diabetes vitamins and low-dose aspirin. But I could have - along with pretty much any food, household item, medicine, health and beauty, or other item I could have needed.

The business model of electronic chains has traditionally been to offer low prices on big items like TV's, cameras, or computers and make up for it on accessories, which typically have high profit margins. But drug stores and grocery stores are cutting into that market by offering accessories cheaper and more conveniently than electronic stores. It normally wouldn't occur to me to buy an SD card at Circuit City or Best Buy - I buy online when there's a big rebate, usually from, newegg, or But it never would have occurred to me to go to Walgreen's for a memory card, but I probably would again if I needed one. Hell, they even have their own brand of memory card (which was actually $6 more, because the Sandisk was on sale).

The has probably had more of an effect on the decline of brick-and-mortar electronics retailers than anything else, but the ubiquity of many of the things they sell at pretty much any store has to have an effect on sales as well, an effect that hasn't gotten a whole lot of notice.


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