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OT reducing your carbon footprint, helping the state you live in

Dear list,

 I know this is off topic but I feel it’s relevant.

 I know many of you engage in on line buying, as do I, though I’m starting to have second thoughts about  my on line habits. Like many of you, the lure of rock bottom prices and free freight, as well as the convenience of not leaving your house, and in some cases the distance from a music store making that impractical anyway, is hard to pass up.

 But in many cases I believe we are creating a bigger carbon footprint by ordering on line simply by creating another trip the product has to make before it gets to our door step. Here is why, if a retail store like the one I work at part time in Santa Cruz orders some Roland or Line 6 products, they are shipped directly to our store from their facilities in southern California, which is one of the main ports on the west coast for Asian made electronics.  If I were to order the same product on line from, for example, Musicians Friend, that Roland or line 6 product would have first been trucked or flown to a warehouse in the Midwest from So Cal, before being trucked or flown to your door step. If I had gotten it from Sweetwater it would have been even further.  Conversely if you bought a Danish made TC electronics processor from MF and you lived on the East Coast, you would have bought a product that would have arrived by cargo ship or jet from Europe, to an east coast warehouse, and flown or trucked half way across the country before for showing up at your door step. In either example, that’s several thousand mile’s of extra jet or diesel fuel, pardon the hyperbole. So even though we the customers are saving money with the free freight and the no sales tax, it would appear that we are in our own small ways, increasing the carbon footprint, by burning more fossil fuel. Also, I have reason to believe  it won’t be long before the days of Free freight will be gone, rising fuel surcharges from carriers like UPS and FedEx, are going to  put the squeeze on the big mail order houses to the point where they will stop offering the free freight  incentive, so read the fine print as it may not be that obvious when it happens.

 Another negative byproduct of buying online is it really does hurt your local and state economy. In California, where we pay one of the nation’s highest sales tax at 8.25%, the advent of discount online mega stores has had a crippling effect on our states economy. Not just in music retail, but pretty much all retail sales.  I see it first hand at Union Grove Music where I work and I hear the same stories from all of the other retailers and sales reps I talk to, even places like Guitar Center  that  for years have been able to undercut the  sales of smaller stores like us., they are losing business to on line retailers.  California has had a several week impasse over creating a new budget, Why? I believe in part it’s because the state is broke and everyone is fighting for the crumbs. What is a major source of revenue for the state of California?  You guessed it, sales tax, and they are thinking of raising it again which will screw local business even more, as the state hemorrhages more tax revenue from people avoiding it through on line buying.  I know many of you might not care and actually I really didn’t for a number of years. Lets face it, getting something really cool,  really  cheap, and avoiding paying sales tax is some what of a Red badge of Courage among musicians, that has a subtle rebellious  undertone of sticking it to da man. I think we all at one time or another have conspiratorially bragged to our friends about the steal we got on such in such and item.  Its human nature and for many of us also a necessity to find the bargain.  But as I drive the streets of the city in which I live,  the roads are getting bumpier, both literally and figuratively (crumbling infrastructure anyone?)   and I have made a personal  decision to buy on line only when I absolutely can’t find something I need  locally, even if it ends up costing me  a bit more, and   I urge all of you to think about the ramifications of buying on line in the bigger picture, not just for yourself, but the community and State where you live. I know some of you can’t stand going in to music stores so I know I won’t convince you of anything J  but those of you who care about having a locally owned shop where you can actually pick something up and try it out before forking over your hard earned shekels,   I urge you to support your local music, or CD, or appliance, or computer store for that matter, and start looking at ways to Green you GAS.

Sorry for being such a gloomy Gus, but now is the time to start thinking about these kinds of issues and getting proactive an individual as well as collective way