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Archive for April, 2010

Buying New Zealand Made: Adventures in Online Shopping

April 29th, 2010 Comments off

It’s been nearly three weeks since I announced my New Zealand only apparel purchasing requirement. So far the results have been a lot of googling, and very little buying.

I did buy a shirt ($189) and silk tie ($119) from Rixon Groove last week for the annual Green Gala WYP ball. They are very nice, though I just about wept when the assistant gave me the price. True to my word, they were both made in New Zealand, and there is an appreciable difference in cut and quality of cloth. Time will tell how well they both last.

The week before, I broke down when trying to find a cowboy hat for a costume party, and eventually paid the $3.50 for an exceedingly lousy costume hat, knowing that I was probably only going to wear it once, possibly twice.

Generally, the experience has been incredibly frustrating. Not only because I now must walk past all the specials at Munns and Hush Puppies and feel guilty whenever I probably support child labour by purchasing cheap costume frippery, but mostly because New Zealand manufacturers and retailers seem loathe to put useful information online. Far too many websites have slogans like “More products in store!” or worse yet; “POA – Price On Application” splattered liberally over their paltry product lineup.

From the customers perspective, the point of having a website site is to avoid wasting the inordinate amount of time required to physically check every store. Clearly this point has been lost on many retailers. I personally suspect that some merchants believe that they will lose their sales edge without a human presence to badger me as I walk around their store. What really happens is that I see the above slogans and completely destroy their edge by not bothering to turn up in the first place. For any product that’s not of the electronic variety, I’m all for turning up and seeing it in person – especially clothing, where I’d like to try the item on – but I would like the opportunity to browse through the products in peace.

Therefore, if a single New Zealand manufacturer or retailer reads this and takes home one piece of advice, it should be this;

Put your catalogue online.

Put it all online. Put up prices, sizes, units left in stock, shipping costs. Put up every single piece of information you can think of, because if I can’t find out what I want to know, I’m going somewhere else. If you don’t let me buy direct from the website, I’ll go somewhere else. By the time I get to your store to try something on, I expect to know what products you offer, what sizes are available, what optional extras I can get, what colours are available, and last – but most importantly – how much it’s going to cost me.

If you are a manufacturing business only, and are genuinely not equipped to sell directly to the public, then please include links directly to retailers who do. Telling me to go scurrying around all the local stores searching for a specific item does not endear your brand to me.

This is not the eighties where I phone up for a catalogue in the mail, and it’s not the nineties where a brochureware site and a quaint “Email us for a quote” form is vaguely admissible. This is the 21st century. Please start acting like it.

Rixon Groove, this includes you.

Sun Microsystems has gone Nova

April 23rd, 2010 Comments off

In a homage to the Oracle-Sun Microsystems buyout, the phenomena where a company purchases another company and the best and brightest talent promptly leave, shall now be known as; “Going nova.”

Categories: Tech Tags: , , , ,

Buying New Zealand Made

April 5th, 2010 1 comment

I sometimes feel that I should have a big “Made in China” logo tattooed on my person.

With the exception of my jeans (Pakistan) and my belts and suit (New Zealand), it seems as if almost every article of clothing in my wardrobe is made in China. Even the merino icebreaker t-shirt I purchased for tooling around snow covered Europe is made there. No doubt in order to allay these fears they have made special efforts to create a “BAACODE” so we can track which sheep and farm a given shirt comes from. The fact that the BAACODE (E37C4298B) attached to my shirt is apparently invalid, doesn’t give me much faith that icebreaker gear deserves it’s reputation.

After my debacle in January of attempting to buy New Zealand made barstools that didn’t cost a spare limb for each stool – end result; I found some on trademe – I thought that I’d purchase a nice leather jacket, also, made in New Zealand. Well, it turns out that Leather Direct NZ does use NZ leather – and outsources the manufacturing to Pakistan. Fail.

The two main reasons that I want to buy New Zealand made boil down to economic, and environmental. If New Zealand keeps importing everything, soon enough we won’t produce anything except untreated wood planks, steak, wool, and the occasional misguided PHP programmer. Secondly, I can’t quite shake the feeling that until we truly have unlimited clean energy, the practice of shearing a sheep, bailing up the wool, shipping it 10,000 kilometers across the world to turn it into a shirt, and then shipping said shirt back to the same country it came from is just ever so slightly inefficient and environmentally destructive.

Also, on a completely anecdotal level, I’ve been somewhat distressed at the quality level of what I’ve been buying, despite the amount I’ve paid for it. (Tarocash, I’m looking at you.)

So.

For one year, starting from today, I’m going to try to source all my clothing from New Zealand manufacturers. I’m not throwing out my existing clothes, and if I’m in another country or up a mountain and desperately need a pair of socks or a woolly hat, I’ll look for the locally made brand, but the pragmatic and imperative need to avoid frostbite is going to win out over my ideological and journalistic integrity.

In keeping with the environmental aspect, I will try to keep to natural fibres that are locally produced – where possible. As far as I’m aware, there is not a natural fibre replacement for elastic, and New Zealand simply doesn’t produce any cotton. Therefore, where possible, I’ll go for Australian cotton. With some exceptions, I expect that it will also be very difficult to get specifics on where fibre originates from anyway.

So far, I’ve identified Duncan, & Prudence and Rixon Groove as NZ based clothing producers. This should see me set up for shirts and trousers, and New Zealand made socks and belts seem very easy to procure. At this point, the items I expect to give me difficulty are shoes – especially sports shoes, and underwear.

Finally, I appreciate that this exercise will involve me paying a premium, and though I hope that the higher price will mean a higher quality product, but there is a certain level of expenditure which I’m not willing to go over. I’m not going to spend $200 on a t-shirt.

I intend to blog this process as I go along. Comments, thoughts, and suggestions are very welcome.

New Zealand

April 4th, 2010 Comments off

This is my last travel post. Arriving home in New Zealand is a strange feeling. I was strangely elated to be back in the land of the long white cloud, where a properly inflected “Mate.” or “Aw, bro.” is an acceptable complete sentence, and where barista’s will actually make my “long black” instead of pushing buttons on a machine. It’s nice to have a working EFT-POS card again as well.

Compared to Europe, New Zealand is empty. Auckland airport at 3pm on the Wednesday before Easter, with plenty of people trundling around in preparation for the break, simply felt barren. After the endless cavernous halls of Singapore Changi International Airport, Auckland airport felt a bit small. Of course, if you want a really small airport, trying Faleolo International Airport in Samoa sometime, which is a hut, with stray cats.

I think the trip away was good for me, if for no other reason that I now appreciate some things about New Zealand a lot more. Like the fact that a single layer of clothing is sufficient most of the time. Or that I can afford to live in the middle of the city. I missed the laid back attitude and friendliness of people. Since landing, I’ve chatted to the customs clerks, to random people in the airport, to people on the plane from Auckland to Wellington, to people serving me in the supermarket, the liquor store, the cafe staff… Maybe it’s because for a month I was a foreigner, but nobody seemed to do that in Europe.

Already I miss some things about Europe too. Particularly music. I was getting into Waldeck before I took off, which I randomly heard one day on a shoutcast stream. I couldn’t find the CD anywhere in New Zealand. In Europe, I heard it everywhere. If I’d been there for one more day more, I could have heard the Flogging Molly‘s in London. I did go see Phantom of the Opera though, having bought my ticket the day before. Try that in Wellington.

So, I’m back. Hopefully a little wiser, a little more accepting of differences, and a little more appreciative of what I have at home.

In retrospect, I did one make right choice. Around June last year, I decided I was going to move to London. Then I got a girlfriend, and that didn’t happen. This was probably a good thing. I like London, and if I stayed in Hamilton, having never moved to Wellington, it would have been awesome. But I did, and London would have simply been Wellington, but more so.

Will I move over for a couple of years anyway? Maybe. Ask me when the jet-lag wears off.