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 Post subject: Mini Cams - What to buy?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:13 pm
Posts: 572
Ok, so it seems angles, blades, hooks and the rest of the aid ironmongery is frowned upon these days, and mini-cams are the rock friendly alternative.
The little suckers aren't cheap though, so does anybody have experience with the various brands and offer some advice?

I've been told that Metolius are the best choice between the Black Diamond C3's, Wild Country Z Cams and Metolious Master Cams - not sure who else makes them...

Master Cams
http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/master_cam.html

Edit: There are of course Aliens, but I'm not considering those.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:14 am 
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Location: Cape Town (mostly :) )
Hey Stu
I have used the WC Zero's extensively. The #1 and #2 are particularly useful in what used to be knife-blade territory. Likewise BD Swedges and the tiny DMM Peanuts.
Then I've just hooked what I couldn't protect - personally I climb with a BD Talon on each aider.

Very personal choice, nothing against the others - just what I've used. Tho I'm not sure there is anything nearly as small as a WC Zero #1.

My 2 cents will end up costing u a few bob lol


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:34 am 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
some reviews on the master cams:
http://www.rockclimbing.com/Articles/Ge ... w_793.html
http://www.backcountry.com/outdoorgear/ ... ml#reviews

"The lineup - C3, Master Cam, and Alien....which is better? The answer, as always, it depends." rockclimbing.com review

gearexpress.com has the full set on sale now...... ordered from them before and their service is tops.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:14 am 
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Location: Cape Town (mostly :) )
Likewise the BD, Alien, WC and Metolius are ALL available locally. Considering how much support the local distributors give to your fraternity here, I feel it worthwhile to support them and the local climbing retail outlets.
@ mok, as great the service is and while you may save a few % (tho not always), remember to ask gearexpress to fund things like the local comps, schools leagues and rock n road trips.

BTW, I saw Robert the other day and he mentioned that Aliens were being discontinued - there are a handfull of sets left locally, and I think they are offered at a pretty good price.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:38 am 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
yo tristan, a completely different discussion but here goes: the free market has a way of keeping things in check and that's good. the simple fact is the we Saffas are getting ripped-off on gear prices compared to our US and European counterparts. and is this (in part) due to uncompetitive bargaining by local suppliers and distributors?? i'm asking.

at R7:50 to the USD a top-end rope costing around USD200 = R1500 but we pay R2000??? or a wc friend at USD55 = R412 (non-sale prices)! and we are a low per-capita-GDP country. we all know charges for gear are way way way above marginal manufacturing costs and the "additional" rewards are for R&D, quality control etc. - so there is ample space to cut prices from a manufacturer-supplier perspective if somebody could convince them to do so. fact is that we should not be paying more than other countries and a direct exchange rate basis but we are. so until our gear dudes are up to scratch i will buy wherever its the cheapest. and yes, i would rather buy from local guys if the costs make sense.

i bought wc friends for R380 each (incl VAT & shipping) at a time when they cost around R650 each here. thats more than a "few %"

ps: did the devils advocate here - i would really really really like to see local guys be competitive and succeed!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:09 pm 
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Ok, how about this for a rack:
Zero's: Z1, Z2 - the smallest cams out there
Master Cams: 00, 0, 1, 2

Tristan, what cams sizes would you suggest doubling up on for Winterhoek terrain?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:39 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
mokganjetsi the free market is never free.

In SA we have tiny volumes which means that transporting stuff here is expensive, customs on all shoes is 20% and there is 14% Vat. Holding stock in terms of interest on the capital and opportunity cost amounts to 20% per year. I.e. any stock on your shelf that hangs around for a year costs you 20%.

Try good ole CROCs and across SA the price used to be fixed at R399. I acquired a pair in the US for $18. Do the math.

Try cars: here vs the US. Again, do the math!

Even as an owner of CityROCK I find it cheaper to buy things in the US when I am there. And I get it at cost here.

Nobody makes money selling climbing gear in SA. We do it as a service. Some suppliers make money out of rope access gear and peripherals such as head torches. But if you wanna make money go into clothing. Even Chouinard did so an sold out to Black Diamond.

So if you want cheaper gear locally then support the local shops and suppliers.

We are all extremely competitive - to the point of acrimony....Believe me


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:38 am 
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I'm with Mokganjetsi on this one.I buy all cams in the US,the rest(biners,draws,ropes ext)I buy in SA.Cams are half the price in US as what they are here.Just bought a Casio Protrek for R2k,they retail for R7k here.In these times it's tough for the consumer as well as the companies selling gear,if I can save a buck,I'll defs save one!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:45 am 
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Location: Port Elizabeth
Real Name: Derek Marshall
Ball nuts before mini cams. Ball nuts are narower, have a higher impact rating, are sweet to place & are more versatile.

smallest ball nut 3-5mm 8KN
smallest Zero cam 4-6mm rated 3KN

Zero cams are for aid or panic. They are easy to place badly. Make impressive keyrings.

Unfortunatly the local gear suppliers probrably don't have ball nuts as they generaly only carry the basics.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:57 am 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
he snort, i catch what you are saying. BUT if i can get cams / QDs (& even ropes) cheaper by buying online + paying VAT + paying relatively expensive shipping then the equation doesn't add up. and if you buy from overseas the order normally has to be big enough to get economies of scale on the shipping costs.
i believe you guys are not taking monster margins on gear but on some stuff you can save anything from 30% to 50% by buying overseas.
since we are a relatively small market i suppose it decreases our bargaining power, but are there not innovative ways to get around the loadings that makes gear relatively expensive here? man, if i think of the ways financial companies does creative structuring to get around regulatory and fiscal barries there has te be some scope to make things happen here. i hope. or argue with manufacturers that the prices make it prohibitively expensive for the sport (and hence their market) to grow - imagine being a student or schoolkid wanting to by a trad rack - thats 3000 beers man :wink:

(sorry for hijacking your thread stu)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:05 am 
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While it does make sense to cut costs and import (I have imported practically all my photographic equipment and still paid less than half for what it retails in SA...), I still think it is crucial to support the guys that make climbing at all possible in SA.

Just think how difficult and straining it would be for climbing as a sport to grow in SA if all suppliers said "screw the customer, they don't give a damn in any case". What would be left of our land access if MCSA decided "screw the climbing community, they don't care to join in any case"..?

The fact of the matter is that these people and businesses keep the climbing scene in SA alive, and help with developing the scene for schools, right through the range of climbers, to top-end athletes. Yes, we do pay more here. No, the suppliers aren't out to screw us. Yes, our money is being put to very good use. Without suppliers, there is no climbing scene in SA. Not because there's no gear, but because there's no development and a helluva lot less exposure for people who might have never known the sport had they not walked past a gear shop.

The extent to which we support our suppliers has a direct impact on their ability to support the local climbing scene in departments other than supplying gear. Climbing gear is not enough to make anyone rich - they do it for the love of the culture.


Loyalty to the local suppliers may cost more money, but it is a loyalty that makes friends.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:02 am 
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Somebody famous once said:If you want loyalty get yourself a dog! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:28 am 
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Hey thanks for the tip Marshall! Definitely gonna pick up a few of those, cheaper to.
Any particular brand you prefer? - the Camp nuts look pretty good, but I see Trango also have their own range.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
i agree with Snorts sentiments, even if not his actions. With the supporting of local i agree that the people who gain the most from supporting local is the locals. Earlier this year we were talking the same thing about retailers: as bottom line focused climbers choose to buy their gear online/overseas vs at the local retailer they destroy the market for the gear, thus themselves having free access to chalk etc locally. if you don't believe me call Camping & Outdoors (031 566 3177) or Trappers Potchefstroom (018 293 3056), both of them have in recent time questioned the validity of stocking gear for an ungrateful local market where they sponsor and support local events. Marshall am i mistaken or are you from EC? i know that community inflicted this form of punishment on its local retailer to the point thet it no longer stocks gear.

Local is Lekker

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:00 pm 
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Obviously, both sides of the buy local vs. buy cheaper debate have merit. Now, I may be imputing far too much rationality on the part of tax policy in South Africa, but I would imagine the logic behind the 20% import duty on shoes is that the SA gov't wants to protect local shoe manufacturers (many would debate whether this is sound economic policy in the long run, but it's at least reasonable).

In many countries, retailers can (and often successfully do) lobby their government to get exemptions on import duties for 'specialty' products for which there are no competing domestic producers. The rationale used by the retailers is that the duties, rather than helping local producers (as there are none), are actually harming local retailers that are forced to pay higher prices than small-scale importers (i.e. consumers, who are typically below a minimum import threshold for paying import duties).

My question is whether climbing gear and other 'specialty' retailers have lobbied the government for such exemptions. I cannot say that you would be successful, but it would certainly be worth a shot, especially as the 20% import duty is compounded in the 20% annual inventory cost.

I doubt that local retailers would have to compete on a razor thin price margin with foreign retailers. I would imagine that most climbers would be fine paying an extra 10-15% for buying gear locally, but I think it's asking a lot for them to pay upwards of 50% or more for gear purchased locally.

Below is a simplified example of what a difference getting an exemption on the import duty could make:

1 cam = USD 60 = ZAR 450 (@ 7.5 ExR)

Consumer importer: R450*1.14+200 (cost plus VAT plus shipping) = R713
Retail importer w/ Duty: (R450*(1.14+.2)+100)*1.1 (cost plus VAT plus Duty plus shipping [lower than above] all multiplied by a mid-year inventory cost) = R828
Retail importer w/o Duty: (R450*1.14+100)*1.1 (cost plus VAT plus shipping all multiplied by a mid-year inventory cost) = R729

Retailers, let me know if you'd like any assistance coming up with a lobbying plan.

Cheers,

Ed


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:08 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Willem Boshoff
now we're talking!

i would still like to see our retailers taking the game to manufacturers as well.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:38 am
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Location: Port Elizabeth
Real Name: Derek Marshall
Waren...

Which EC retailer stocked climbing gear beyond the absolute basics?

what climbing event did trappers, Cape Union Mart, Outdoor Warehouse or Due South ever sponsor? They feel jack for climbing. Their market is clothes for yobs. They only stock a few draws, rope & maybe chalk to make the shelves look intresting...what if the gear you want is a bit more complicated?....like a set of nuts, ball nuts, pitons? You could ask them to order, but they employ unintrested clowns, who are'nt really going to get the order correct. Fact is, we owe local retaileers, who are all in it for the money...nothing.

I'm big into support local, but...

IMPORTANT WARNING:
Big chains are forcing importers/suppliers to forcing the small & mail order retailers to up their prices...or face no supply. Take a good look at the current retail price of gear...the dollar is down, but our prices are higher than ever. Expect it to get worse. Start thinking of direct mail order from overseas.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:44 pm 
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Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Dudes you quote an exchange rate of R7.50. Our last major import batch was at R8.40. You have short memories of the rand being at R11.00. One cannot time exchange rates and it is too easy to estimate costs against a rate that suits your argument.

At present we realistically have to price our goods at at least R8 to the $. Unstable prices are no good for consumers and it is logistically impossible to alter prices with each delivery from the US. If the rate rockets up 20%, then we would have a buffer so we only increase our prices by local inflation over the next year and so it goes.

At CityROCK we sell what sells of the goods that we consider quality. If we over price goods they won't sell at all. If we underprice them, why bother...That is not in our or your interest. Having said that we try and sell goods at a reasonable price that works for us and the customer. You will also get free advice (as you have on this forum) of all the goods we have and even those we don't have. A customer wants 10 removable bolts. We are doing our best to get them for him via a mate coming here in Dec.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:43 am 
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SNORT wrote:
Dudes you quote an exchange rate of R7.50. Our last major import batch was at R8.40. You have short memories of the rand being at R11.00. One cannot time exchange rates and it is too easy to estimate costs against a rate that suits your argument.


SNORT, the point of my example was to show that EVEN if you look at equal exchange rates for individual importers versus retail importers, the cost to retailers will be substantially higher due to the import duty. Obviously being in an environment of a strengthening Rand will exacerbate the problem (just as a weakening Rand, say, when it was on its way up to 11 to the dollar, would benefit the retailer).

Please re-read my post, and you'll see it as a defense of why retailers in SA have to charge such high prices given the existing tax treatment of bulk imports of climbing gear. My point is that it would be worthwhile to make an effort to change said tax treatment.

As for allowing prices to fluctuate with the exchange rate (based not on the real-time rate but on the rate of the last import batch), it might not be a bad idea to experiment with adjusting prices for a limited number of high-turnover goods (like chalk). I worked with REI in the States, and in my experience customers are fine with somewhat unstable prices as long as they are billed as 'sale' or 'mark-down'. If your normal price for chalk is based on an exchange rate of 10:1, then you can just let the sale price fluctuate. I don't mean to tell you how to run your business, but I have a hard time believing that gear customers in SA are that different from those in the US.

Cheers,
Ed

PS - Since we're rather off topic, perhaps we should start another thread if we want to continue this conversation.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:18 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
Marshall1 there are many generalizations and assumptions made about the industry, as you addressed me i thought i would answer or substantiate some of yours: In the last 10 years Cape Union and Due South have sponsored the Boven Rally, Trappers- at an individual branch capacity- have sponsored various events over the years too, if my memory serves me this includes a Rory or two, as i recall Outdoor Warehouse have contributed to some schools league competitions too. i will say though most of the retailer sponsors have been these local shops- the Camping & Outdoors and Drifters etc. There were a few shops offering gear in EC, but economics left them suffering. My understanding is that now the community buys their gear online or from the chains.

Many of the chains like sponsoring climbing events from time to time only to say that they do- marketing to seem like an “out there shop”, agreed though they make their money on clothes and shoes. To be fair on Cape Union their Adventure centres stock and sell trad gear- i say sell in that they have replenished stock since opening. Their new branch on the Eastrand has also taken a range of trad and sport gear, they have sent their staff for training and encourage them to go out through their Summit club.

For Outdoor Warehouse they often hire weekend staff that are more adventurous and quiet a few of us in the industry cut our teeth there before moving on to more technical shops- important first step
The distributors work out of pricelists like everyone else and every retailer gets product at the same price. Are chains trying to throw their weight around? Yes, but that is the politics of the industry like all others. The interesting thing is both the online retailers and the chains do a good job of keeping everyone’s prices down by providing a standard to work off nationally. This means that prices won’t escalate as the consumer is price sensitive, but that is what this is all about.

If you would like to talk about this in person rather then on the forum i believe we are sharing a cave for a week this summer. With regard to the topic I maintain that local is lekker.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:15 pm 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
jip that's the advanatge web-buyers have - we can move quickly when the exchange rate is in our favor. which it has been for most of the last 5 years. its funny how quickly prices shoot up on a temporary deterioration in the rand but trickles down slowly when the rand-bulls are back - but i guess it has a lot to do with stock and the holding cost of capital.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Nice analysis edmclen, note:

- no 20% duty on hardwear, only shoes

- Warren G, SNORT and Tristan make money off selling gear (retail and distribution); really no offence - but I also wouldn't tell my clients to go buy their trading software online from someone else for cheaper :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:27 pm 
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mok, all the retailers i've seen the past few months have dropped their prices steadily, in fact, the drop happened so often and regular that it got the attention of many climber friends of mine. Def not 'trickeling down'.

I actually remembered thinking that the competition between the suppliers of gear must be getting more intense nowadays - forcing the prices to go down, and not just due to the rand doing better vs the dollar...

And the customer wins all the way - isn't that what we all want anyways? :thumright

j


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:07 pm 
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Real Name: Warren Gans
How about we look at it from another perspective: lets say you buy a dodgy cam online from the cheapest place you could find- American for arguments sake. You were unlucky and scored a dodgy one that has badly moulded trigger. This is a manufacturing error, however to send it back to USA would cost you a fortune, and anyway the retailer doesn’t accept returns on climbing gear. Your only option is to take it to the local distributor. They are now in a crummy spot as they want to rep the brand as well as possible but you are not their customer, as you are the 1000th person to do this to them they use most of their stock sorting people like you. Do you think it would be fair for them to tell you to sod off?

The point i am making here is it is the responsibility of the distributor to back up the product produced by their brands, if people are buying the brand from another country they aren’t making any money off it, but still have to service it as if they are. In a sense this is what climbers often do with climbing shoes: go to your local retailer and try them on, then go on line and buy them. The local retailer gets cheesed off and returns his stock so the next guy can’t try them on, and who looses out? The community that the shop services. I am surprised Snort is so candid in advertising his buying strategy as it sets a bad example from a respected member of the community, but then again they are no longer bringing in Aliens.

Local is Lekker

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:49 pm 
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Warren, valid points around having to service the products of a brand if I didn't buy it from you, but consider this:

When I buy cheaper overseas online, I can afford to buy a 0.75 C4 ($59.95 from backcountry.com and $88 equiv local) for the price of a just-about-the-same-size Rock Empire 1 locally. Which one do you bet your balls on? Which one would you buy?

How many (not hypothetically speaking) BD cams have you heard of go back to BD for manufacturing errors? You know, tested to half their rated strength and all. I won't bring my C4s with manufacturing issues to you to swop, well mainly, because none of the 8 have any :)

Just playing devil's attorney.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:17 am 
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Yup, that's the risk one takes when buying online. However like Pierre has pointed out it's unlikely that you'll pick up a BD cam that's damaged and if so then you'll have to make a plan, you'll just have to keep in mind all the money you've saved.

The biking bunch are having the same issues (high local prices) which has pushed a lot of people to international suppliers like Chain Reaction Cycles. Looks like the same thing is happening with the climbing hardware.

I think it's great that we as the customer have this option available to us, it allows us to chose the gear we want. I still buy a fair amount of stuff locally (but mostly items on special) and will certainly continue to buy kit overseas.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:41 am 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
He DAcaveman, have not really been checking prices lately but will take ur word for it.

some last thoughts before i sign off:
overseas retailers have similar issues than the ones here: holding cost of capital (if they have high turnover then not such a big issue); taxes in some countries; competition; web orders etc etc. the game is to remain competitive and if those guys have enough margin in their products to be profitable AND i can add VAT + shipping to still get it MUCH CHEAPER than here i will buy there no sweat. it is mostly the case with hardwear like cams, nuts & biners (on sale) & only if you have big orders.
i have been supporting local stores big time - camping & cooking gear; shoes and clothing of all kinds; dry bags, backpacks & duffels; ropes & slings; chalk & nikwax.....you name it.
have the clearest conscience in all of this - i'm helping the local guys and buying stuff like cams overseas at worthwhile prices. if i had to buy my whole trad rack at local prices i would not have bought it and nobody would have won.
and sincere appreciation for the local stores and distributors who enable us to go wild - i will continue to support you and have helped gain many new customers by introducing people to climbing & other adventure sports.

yours in cheap gear
mok


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