Here in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, we are in serious need of a Best Buy, a MicroCenter, or a Circuit City for computer supplies. However, many little computer shops are popping up with random collections of supplies to feed the needs of the growing computer user population here.
USB thumb drives, web cameras, and wireless accessories are pretty standard gear at these shops. However, looking for specialty equipment is sometimes a challenge. Cat 5 cable and connectors are at one store, but the crimp tool I need is in a store across town (and they might need to have it shipped from their store in Cancun or Merida). It can be quite frustrating at times.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. I had a client with a fried video card in her business computer. She needed a new one ASAP. I went on a mission to find her a replacement. After visiting 4 different stores, I was only able to locate 1 compatible card. All the new AGP cards had prices marked, but the PCI card I needed did not. I asked how much, but the employee was not sure – he guessed it was around $90. Unfortunately, he had no way of verifying the price until the owner came in the next day. Say what?!
Great! I have a client who cannot do her job because her video card is dead and the only replacement card in town can’t be purchased because there was no price tag.
I spent a few minutes speaking horrendous Spanish, trying to explain that my client needed it right now. After I got that point across, he asked if I lived here. I assured him that I did and gave him my business card. He said I could come back tomorrow to pay for it. Wow!! Although I’m honest, and he was obviously very trusting, I felt much better convincing him to let me pay the $90 now and promising to return the next day to settle any differences.
Experiences like this are priceless. I can’t imagine something like this ever happening to me in a place like Chicago.
And, for the curious, there appears to be a markup between 20-30% on most computer equipment compared to U.S. prices. I’d imagine bigger chain stores with more inventory would be able to cut that down a bit and still make a nice profit. Hint, hint – Best Buy!