December 3, 2012

First of all let me say that, as a pure free-marketer, I believe in shopping whenever and wherever my particular needs are suited. As a creature of habit, I picked out the local Fry’s I felt most comfortable in for grocery shopping and have no plans to change in the future. But that doesn’t mean price and convenience are everything – for example, if I can find what I need at the local Ace Hardware store I’ll shop there first before I head to a “big box” place like Lowe’s. (In fact, now that the Fry’s is handling Blue Rhino propane exchanges I have even less of a reason to go to Lowe’s than I did before.)

I write this because, when shopping around for my new Callaway RAZR X HLs I really, really tried to make my purchase at a local brick-and-mortar honest-to-goodness gof shop. As I mentioned in my earlier post, back when I bought my first set of King Cobras, the internet wasn’t anywhere what it is today – in 1993 most people did their shopping the same way they had done for decades. For me, it was to bring in my set of Dynacrafts, ask them what they’d give in return for me buying my Cobras at their establishment, and take what they offered.

When time came to upgrade my original steel Cobras, I did so purely over the internet: I found the S9 irons and S2 woods on eBay and didn’t even bother checking out all the golf shops in town because we’d only been here a couple of years and I really didn’t know all the local retailers. But I have to admit, there’s something about shopping in a real golf shop with your friends, trying stuff out, and just enjoying the experience of it all, and that was something I missed when buying my Cobra S9s and S2s.

So this time around, I really tried to buy locally. Van’s Golf Shop is well-regarded around the Phoenix area for having the lowest prices on clubs, so I went there on “Black Friday”, figuring they might have some special deals going on. After seeing a right-handed set of RAZR X HL 3- and 4-hybrids and 5-pitching wedge irons priced at $499 with a 20% discount if purchased that weekend I figured I’d hit paydirt. I asked the sales lady if they had a left-handed set similarly priced, and she said it only applied to sets in the store, that they didn’t have any left-handed sets in the store, and that the discount wouldn’t apply if they had to order the set from their supplier.

OK, I figured, while disappointing, their $499 price was still lower than any of the other local retailers I had checked out online. I asked her if they took trade-ins towards new sets of clubs, and she said they did, and they’d be happy to give me a quote. Now I already had checked out and knew I could get at least $150 for my existing set of Cobras, so I was operating at an advantage when I brought my clubs in. She took at look at the clubs and put the info into their computer.

“I can give you $39 as a trade-in towards any new set of clubs here.”

“That’s ridiculous”, I said. “I know for a fact that I can get at least $150 from, and I would much rather buy my clubs at your establishment instead of having to shop for them elsewhere. Certainly, given the competition you must face both locally and online it would be worth giving me what I know I could get elsewhere if I were to buy my clubs here.”

“Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do”, she said. And besides, I just checked with our Callaway supplier and they don’t have any more left-handed sets of this type.” Nothing more, not “let me see what I can do to help you out, no sense of wanting to out of her way to make me feel like my business was appreciated or welcome. Nothing. It was really a scene out of take-it-or-leave-it-ville.

Needless to say I was fairly disappointed, but at least I could satisfy myself by saying it wasn’t for lack of trying.

On to the Internet as soon as I got home. I checked several websites that bought used clubs, and with all the clubs I was selling I had an offer of $212.50 from ProClubs. Better yet, they’re a local company on the other side of the Valley, meaning the cost of shipping my clubs would only cost around $30. So I did the deal. A few clicks later – and I’m really talking a maximum of 15 minutes – I find a site called RockBottom Golf and see my clubs are not only available, but at only $468. Better yet, for Black Friday weekend they were an additional 10% off, with – get this – no tax and free shipping! So instead of paying $499 plus tax at a local retailer, I’m paying $422 for a brand-new set of Callaways minus the $212.50 I’m getting for my old Cobras.

Like they say, do the math. I’m getting a brand-new set of hybrids and irons for around $210.

I sent my Cobras to the Saturday after Black Friday. Thursday I have my check in the mail. I ordered my new clubs from Rockbottom Golf the same Saturday. The same day my check arrives, Mr. Fed Ex pulls up and deposits a brand-new set of Callaways RAZR X HLs on my front door step. I check everything out, and they are beautiful. And currently sitting under the Christmas tree.

So it all worked out. I still need my three woods, but I figure I’m going to wait until after Christmas. With a new release of Callaways coming out, I figure that after Christmas I’m going to be seeing quite a few used RAZR X drivers and woods out there on eBay ripe for the picking, so I’ll wait my chance and strike like a cobra (pun intended) when the right deal presents itself. I most certainly won’t be bothering to use up valuable gas driving around to local golf retailers to see what they might have; it’s already been proven that, as much as I’d like to help out local retailers in this regard, they really can’t compete anymore with the internet and the ease and kinds of deals there are out there.

It’s too bad, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. But it does just go to show just how different shopping for golf clubs has changed in this day and age. And I’m sure the same holds true for other kinds of products. Why go through all the crap of driving around and dealing with businesses that just don’t have the same capabilities as on-line retailers do? Makes you wonder where it will all end up.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:19 | Comments (3)
  1. And once again, you managed to captivate me into reading the entire post about GOLF CLUBS….is this some kind blog hypnosis? Ridiculous!!!!!
    I know nothing of golf, want to know nothing of golf and yet, I sit here with my morning coffee enraptured about GOLF clubs.

    Comment by Jana — December 3, 2012 @ 6:20 am

  2. Actually, while the topic was about golf clubs it’s really about technology. I mean, not just this but the fact I did all of my Christmas shopping – and I do mean all – without having to leave our home office or even speak to an individual is disconcerting to me as a people person on a certain level.

    I like the convenience of it all and don’t miss the shopping experience. After all, it’s been years since I bought anything at a mall. But I wonder about the larger, long-term impact of it all – social media replacing seeing people in person, shopping by computer instead of being out with the masses.

    In the grand scheme of things it’s hard to say whether it’s for better or for worse, it just is what it is.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — December 3, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  3. Doug:

    You make a good point! I’ve seen great prices
    on sporting goods equipment going online. Although people still like trying out their equipment before purchasing, whether it be a baseball glove, bat, cleats…e.t.c. Craigslist
    does pretty good with used sporting goods stuff. I got $40 at “GOLFERS WAREHOUSE” for my old golf set. My irons – Pure Golf, absolutely nobodys hurd of. My Nike Slingshot irons were
    $100 off the original price of $400, plus $40 trade in. Gotta go were the deals are.

    Now I just need to find my game!


    Comment by Ron "Cubby" Myerow — December 3, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

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