The Two Kilometre Challenge – Buying Locally

In recent times, we have heard about two interesting and quite different phenomena in terms of consumption – of food and of household items.  In food, we have a new desire to shop locally, as in, source our food from somewhere local, preferably organic, at a market or even buying direct from the farmer.  I have found this movement fairly intriguing, as we now have the phenomena of farmers from the Nepean and Hawkesbury districts – as in, near me, travelling to inner city markets – but we have only one per month in Penrith.

In shopping for clothes, electronic items, books, etc, the internet has ensured cheaper shopping online for most things, as well as the ease of online research, which ensures, reportedly, the lowest possible price.  Hence, whilst many are determined not to import cheaper, packaged food from nations in which it is often cheaper to grow the food – those same people are more than happy to shop from those same nations for our clothes and electronics.

We are moving from this apartment building in the coming month and we are looking at two things – buying furniture, whitegoods and bedding for the new place and sprucing up this apartment with new carpet, shower screen and other things.  I don’t want a tenant to put up with yuck grey carpet.  However, such things as I have been looking for are rather tricky to get online – they offer their own peculiar demands to be looked at, felt, touched.

So, as a result, I have set myself a 2km Challenge – as in, buy everything possible within a 2k radius of our front door.  Visit local shops, draw upon local experience, do things like they used to be done.  In this challenge, I am also trying to avoid going to the “big box” places like Harvey Norman and Bing Lee, though Bunnings is virtually unavoidable.

This challenge is not as difficult, admittedly, as it could be for others – we do live near a mixed light industrial / commercial zone and not that far from Homemakers centres. Parts of Penrith doesn’t delineate clearly between residential and commercial, which is good for this challenge, at least.  So, how has it gone?

1.  Carpet.  There are 7 carpet stores within 2ks of here – one of them being Harvey Norman.  But HN wanted $15 per square metre for installation and another place, carpet Call, wanted $20 per square metre.  That would mean for a 40 square metre apartment either $600 or $800.  Thoroughly absurd, unless they were laying it on underlay with genuine gold thread.  The opposite approach is achieved by Bunnings, who quote a higher price for the carpet, then claim they will install a houseful for $139.  Hmmm.  I preferred the approach from Carpet One, which had the advantage of being 500 metres from the door, who included the installation price – which was reasonable.  The experienced female salesperson also gave sound and honest advice of the wearability and impact of Britex machines in rental properties.  Her husband will be the installer.  I prefer that to someone from Bunnings, to be honest.

2.  Beds.  My son needs a new bed and mattress.  There are a heap of bed shops within 2ks.  However, I found by walking inside that there is a vast difference between the types of beds about.  There are the shops that just make their own beds – like the Original Mattress Factory, which has good beds, but not a variety.  Then there are the ones with the elaborate bedroom suites out the front – Snooze, Forty Winks – the ones that do TV ads.  They put a premium on beds, though I did stand through a very entertaining explanation of why pocket spring beds are better than the old style springs.  It was entertaining because the salesman told me that he was cutting down from 8 coffees and a packet of cigarettes per day to 6 coffees and no cigarettes.  As a result, he was bouncing off a number of beds.  Literally.

We ended up going for an outfit called BedsRUs – tacky name, but a smaller shop with no elaborate bedroom ensembles, just good mattresses made in Australia and China (we went for the Australian one) that were pocket spring and cheaper than Forty Winks – some $200+ cheaper.   It helped that the staff were experienced, female staff who were not pushy, just helpful.  I liked the mattress deal so much I decided that my daughter really did need a better mattress than the elcheapo $200 one I bought when moving into the apartment, so I got another one.

I will continue with this quest in later blogs.  It has been an intriguing and rewarding idea so far.

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