Friday, September 23, 2005

[Blog Entry] Struggling, Pricing 101


There are times when it’s simply a struggle to write. I don’t mean staring at the computer monitor for hours, and all you end up with is a blank screen. It’s not even about how difficult it is to write, to find the perfect subsequent line to your poem or short story. What I’m talking about is something worse.

It’s apathy.

I have one of those days, when you wake up and you simply have nothing to say (or you do, but there’s simply no motivation for it). I have a couple of short stories I’m been meaning to finish (and in the case of one, to actually start), but the passion seems to drain out of me, and all I want to do is get on with work and perhaps read a book or two. It’s about wanting to blog, but you put it off, placing something else as your priority. It’s about having some free time to write, yet you don’t.

Perhaps the most horrible part is, you don’t care. I mean if you’re too busy to write, at least you anguish at how much more you could have written. Or if it’s the so-called writers block, you’ll manage to squeeze in a line or two before you eventually give up. In this case, there’s simply nothing. You don’t care. You remember you need to write, but you don’t. It’s as if you were never a writer in the first place.

Which is why I think writing daily is important. Whether you feel like it or not, you simply write, whether it’s a blog entry, a short story, an essay, or whatever fuels your muse. Of course I’m not saying that one should resort to only this, but writing regularly is nice habit to develop, irregardless of how you feel.

And besides, the only cure for apathy is to start feeling again, to start exploring once more. One can easily lose sight of your goals, but just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Pricing 101

One of the easiest (and perhaps most practiced habit in the Philippines) things to do is to complain about prices. Of course when you’re at the other end, you start realizing at how unjustified or invalid some of these claims are.

When I was working as a clerk at Comic Alley, I do have some annoying customers who constantly compare prices: I can get this or that stuff in Hong Kong or Japan for this and that price. What they fail to realize is that while that’s true, the fact of the matter is they’re not there. They’re here, in the Philippines. Many people think that just because a comic, for example, is selling for Y400, doesn’t mean that merchants in this country should sell it for Y400. What about paying for the store rent? The cost of shipping it all the way from said country to the Philippines? How about the salaries of sales people? Taxes? And perhaps more importantly, the profit?

When you buy clothes in a foreign country, the common person will think that just because the price tag says $100.00, it’s costing you $100.00. Perhaps what separates the canny entrepreneurs from the lay man is that the former realizes they’re paying more for it. There’s your plane ticket for example. Then there’s the money you spend on feeding yourself for the entire trip. Plus board and transportation expenses. The rate of exchange was never 1:1. Yet people in this country persist in believing it’s so.

I always hear statements like “I could get this for cheaper in Hong Kong.” Then why don’t you go and buy it there? Obviously, you don’t, and certainly not on a regular basis. Because it costs you lots of money. Tell me which is cheaper: purchasing an object with a markup of a few dollars, or purchasing an object without the markup, but having to pay for your plane ticket? See, it’s simple math.

Not that that’s the only factor. Why are the products of convenience stores more expensive than say, the supermarket? Because you’re paying for the convenience of it. Sure, I could walk ten minutes to the mall to buy a bar of chocolate, or I could cross the street, pay P5.00 more extra, and have my snack just like that. It’s not so much the item that’s being charged, but the service of making it convenient.

Most businesses will also have your regular set of expenditures, which can be rent, electricity, water, and employees. I’m not saying that all items on the market are fairly priced, but there is a reason why they cost that much, and why they aren’t being sold for less.

Of course when it comes to luxury items like designer clothing, the cost to manufacture it is significantly less, but you’re purchasing something else, whether it’s the prestige associated with the product, or perhaps the talents of the artists who worked on it. The costs aren’t always tangible, but rather ideas or emotions in people’s minds.

Perhaps what frustrates me the most is the fact that people will complain and complain, but in the end, will buy the product nonetheless. Do yourself and the salesman a favor: don’t complain. It only agitates both of you.


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