Tag Archives: shopping

Three tips for visiting the farmers market this weekend (and a story)

It’s the weekend and I hope you’re heading to a farmers market. The best ones are always on the weekends. Lots of farmers and variety, as well as crowds, but if you arrive early you can avoid them and get the best selection. Here are a few tips for shopping at the farmers market this weekend.

Hold your cash in one hand and the food in the other. I use this trick all the time. As a regular at the market I know exactly what I want and I usually know the farmer. But that doesn’t give me any special privileges. I have to wait in line with everybody else and sometimes that can take forever. A new person asking lots of questions or ten people in line. But if you walk up to the front and show your cash and food – you can skip the line. I know it’s cutting in line and a cheat, but with exact change you can complete the transaction in second. And with the growing crowds of people at the market it can be needed to get in and out quickly.

Save everything you get from the market, from little ties and rubber bands, to fruit and egg boxes. You can return all of them for a smile and nod of appreciation. Look closely at every market and you will see this happening. Someone returning a collection of thirty rubber bands or another with 5 empty egg cartons. It’s the sustainable side to the market. And the farmers love it because it saves them a few dollars on supplies.

Look for the special item at every table. I’ve learned a secret about farmers that I can share with you. Each one has several products that are their specialty. They grow lots of them and have great variety – their staple crops. But they also like to experiment, grow something new, or cook something different. Usually just a small amount to see if it sells or for their own family. Which means they quickly sell out, but if you can find one, take a look. It’s usually exotic or rare and you probably won’t know what to do with it, but it’s always a treat.

Finally, a quick story about one of my experiences. A few years back, I found a farmer with a single walnut tree in his yard. His father had planted it 40 years ago so his family could have walnuts, but now it was so big they couldn’t eat all the fallen walnuts. So he began selling a few of them at the market for dirt cheap prices, but he always placed them in the corner and sometimes didn’t even put them out. I learned all this as I began buying from him, and they were delicious. The best walnuts I ever had.

Soon my girlfriend was eating them and I was buying double. Some weeks I would walk up with a huge bag and buy every single walnut he had. At this point he realized walnuts could sell and gave them more table space with a big sign. To my chagrin, they did sell and I was now fighting other market shoppers for walnuts. Some weeks I would get some and others not. The price went up a little, but every time he saw me I would get a discount and a smile.

 

Do you have a tip or story, please share in the comments? 

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Have you used Fab yet? – The design site has 7 million customers and is booming

If you can, imagine the intersection of Ikea and Etsy. Industrial home manufacturing meets quirky internet designers. That is Fab.com.

From the CEO:

There are now nearly 10,000 products on Fab every single day. (Btw. Ikea boasts having 9500 products on their website.)  We’re building the world’s greatest design store.

 

And it seems to be working, the site hit 6 million visitors in August and a month later has surpassed 7 million. Definitely, worth visiting.

Here are a few of the products:

 

Hemisphere

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Smartphone owners love shopping with apps – use them on average 17x month

From the Nielsen Wire:

…Nearly half of American smartphone owners (47%) used shopping apps in June 2012, according to Nielsen.  Overall, 45 million smartphone owners used apps in the Shopping/Commerce category, accessing shopping apps 17 times on average during June 2012.

 

 

More analysis:

  • eBay, Amazon, and Groupon dominate with 60% of all uniques.
  • Shopkick somehow keeps users in the app for 3 hours.
  • TechCrunchNielsen On U.S. Mobile Shopping

Google ads Amazon-style products to search results – in a big revenue grab

An interesting update by Google which seems directly targeted at Amazon. These new Product Ads from Google will compete with Amazon’s commission model, and may come down to who has the better search.

With billions of dollars in revenue the stakes…

 

In the early days of Google, users would type in a query, we’d return ten blue links, and they’d move on happy. Today people want more. When searching for great local restaurants, people want places to eat right there on the results page, not another click or two away. It’s the same with hotels, flight options, directions and shopping.

Today we’re announcing a new initiative to improve our shopping experience over time–so that shoppers (your customers) can easily research purchases, compare different products, their features and prices, and then connect directly with merchants to make their purchase.

First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall.

Ranking in Google Shopping, when the full transition is complete this fall, will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price–just like Product Listing Ads today.

In addition, merchants who want to stand out from the crowd can choose to participate in our new Google Trusted Stores program. Google Trusted Stores is a badge for e-commerce sites which gives users background on merchants—whatever their size—including ratings for on-time shipping and customer service. Google stands behind merchants that have earned the Google Trusted Stores badge with a $1,000 lifetime purchase protection guarantee per shopper.

Second, starting today we’ve also begun to experiment with some new commercial formats on Google.com that will make it easier for users to find and compare different products. These include larger product images that give shoppers a better sense of what is available and also the ability to refine a search by brand or product type.

For example, below is  what stargazers could see on Google.com when searching for [telescopes], or for a specific product, such as [Celestron CPC 800].

 

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Amazon’s ambitious new plan for same-day delivery – and how it will destroy retail

But now Amazon has a new game. Now that it has agreed to collect sales taxes, the company can legally set up warehouses right inside some of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Why would it want to do that? Because Amazon’s new goal is to get stuff to you immediately—as soon as a few hours after you hit Buy.

It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry. Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed.

Can Amazon pull it off? It’s sure spending a lot of money to try…Amazon is investing $130 million in new facilities in New Jersey that will bring it into the backyard of New York City; another $135 million to build two centers in Virginia that will allow it to service much of the mid-Atlantic; $200 million in Texas; and more than $150 million in Tennessee and $150 million in Indiana to serve the middle of the country. Its plans for California are the grandest of all. This year, Amazon will open two huge distribution centers near Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and over the next three years it might open as many as 10 more in the state. In total, Amazon will spend $500 million and hire 10,000 people at its new California warehouses.

 

Source: Slate - I Want It Today: How Amazon’s ambitious new push for same-day delivery will destroy local retail

 

 

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An innovative virtual store for an online retailer

The number 2 grocery chain in South Korea, Home Plus, is looking to improve sales through innovation. They have created a virtual store offering “500 items including food, electronics, office supplies and toiletries.”

The store is at an underground subway station in Seolleung, located in the south of Seoul, South Korea, a city of 10 million people. It takes up seven pillars in the stations and six walls. On it are life size pictures of items in a real store.

Next to each item is a small barcode, actually a QR code. Shoppers use their smartphone and a downloadable app to scan and make purchases.

The order is then sent to the store closest to the shoppers home and a delivery truck completes the order. Dropping off a box of groceries at your front door.

it’s very similar to shopping on Amazon or using Peapod, but represents one of the first successful physical stores for an online service.

Taken from Amusing Planet, where they also have a video introducing the concept.

 

Thx to Stacie Dauffenbach

I’m off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

I'm off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

The retail recession

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the bankruptcy of Borders Bookstores and the repercussions it could have.

Add in Blockbuster and Tower records and collectively the retail industry for music, movies, and books is disappearing. Well, you might be able to add clothing stores to that list.

A rash of closings here in Orange County, CA, (the OC) has the entire industry on edge. Some say that “so goes Southern California, so goes the industry,” and if that is true then trouble is brewing.

One of the largest and most popular outdoor shopping malls, The Block, is shaking things up. Even though they are ideally located between Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium, and three intersecting freeways, they can’t keep the stores full. In response they are changing their focus and name, now called the The Outlets.

Does this mean that retail is going “off-price”?

The big box stores are in huge slumps. Mervyns is bankrupt and Sears is on the verge, closing all of it’s stores in California. There are many others already gone that most of us have trouble remembering (Linens ‘N’ Things, Circuit City). Guess what is replacing them…gyms. A whole lot of them.

Are gyms the new retail?

Say hello to 6 new gyms in OC shopping centers from LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and 24-Hour Fitness. They are taking up space formerly occupied by Gap, Nike, Tower Records, Bristol Farms (supermarket), Mervyns, Circuit City, and Linens ‘N’ Things.

Good for the healthy person inside of us!

Another trend to think about is the Chinese exportation of cheap clothes. Retailers like Forever 21 are booming with four new massive stores in the OC (all occupying those empty department stores).

Take a look at the “Made in…” label and notice how much of your outfit is Made in China.

So far the only response to this Chinese competition are the outlets stores mentioned above and perhaps, double secondhand stores. Ross, “Dress for Less”, is opening a discount store for discount stores.

Is new no longer cool?

For me it is. Long ago I ditched all the retail stores for the high-end thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange. They carry a wide range of sizes (you mean not everyone is a medium or large) and an even wider range of styles. I definitely hope to see more of these stores popping up.

That may happen as another 500 day recession for clothing retailers is starting. Retail is not out of the woods yet. We will see who survives until early 2013.

Photos by: Abdullah (gym), Prayitno (coach), Nicole (Buffalo Exchange)