Didn't know where else to post this...
It's funny how a few things just bother you for days on end. I haven't really paid a visit to many of our local computer shops since I returned to northeast Florida. Two of my favorites are now gone, and the folks who ran them were choice people. This past weekend, I decided to visit one of the remaining older shops, one where I had... weird... experiences. First of all, this shop is aimed at PC users. Not a big deal, as I use PC's as well as Mac. A few years back, I walked into this shop, and discovered a cache of Quantum HardCards. He was asking $19.99 a pop for them then (that was late 1998). I picked up two, but found the owner of the shop to be... difficult.
This past weekend, I thought I'd go back and see how much had changed in the past seven years. Amazingly, not much. Let me change that; there was change. It was worse.
As I walked in, I noticed a sign on the door - "SALE! All monitors - 15" $19.99, 17" $29.99". A little pricey for used monitors this day and age, I thought, considering that a good drive down a street on a garbage night might yield two or three. Apparently, that's what he thought, too, since most of these sale monitors looked as though they were recovered/recycled. Various stages of yellowing, some knicks. All clean, but all worn. Most had prices on them ranging from $29.99 to $69.99. But he did have them on sale. Well, okay... at least he tested them... I hope.
I walked around and noted some prices on some of the systems. Not a one less than $100. I wish I could say they were worth it, but I found a sea of Pentium //'s, 200 - 233 mHz range. Not a Mac to be found (fancy that). Well, maybe he really put a lot of time and/or effort into them. Didn't boot a one of them, so I can't say. Still seemed a little pricey.
And so it was with everything in this shop... it was all a little pricey. Some of it was just thrown in bins ("All video cards - $15").
Still, this isn't the saddest part of my visit. I found a SCSI board, and was walking to the front, when a customer walked in to pick up a repair. Didn't listen to much of what was said, until the topic shifted to another computer he wanted to work on. Seems he had an earlier Pentium-class ship, and wanted to use it as a server. He was thinking of, oh, what's-it-called... uh... oh, yeah... Linux?
The shop owner said "no, you don't want to go with that. Costs too much."
"How do they pronounce it, anyway, do you know? Lin-nux? Linux?"
I interjected "Well, its developer's name was Linus Torvalds, but both work."
The customer turned to me and said. "so you're familiar with it?"
"A little. Installed it a few times, have RedHat 6 at home. Not bad."
The shop owner shook his head.
"What, RedHat?" I asked.
"Nah, Linux. Costs too much."
I said, "there are plenty of variants on the web for free download. It's open source, there's always new stuff being developed for it. Stable..."
"No, it's not," he said.
"Not been my experience," I replied. Something told me that an argument was about to begin, so instead, I began to walk back to the board bins.
"What can I help you with today?" he finally asked from the front.
"Was going to buy this card, but never mind," I replied. I put down the Adaptec board and walked out.
I just can't do business with someone who doesn't seem to know the territory, and something told me that this fellow was a diehard Windows/DOS guy, and he couldn't see past his OS of choice. The sad thing is, this is perhaps the only shop locally that still sells components for older PCs, but trust me, he is probably well aware of it. Hence, the prices.
It may have been wrong to confront him like that in front of a customer, and he looks like he could use the business. But just like used car salesmen in loud leisure suits, he just struck me as someone who no longer cared enough about the industry and instead was simply focused on his store's own survival, or, more to the point, a buck. My experience has always been that, eventually, they ruin themselves.
Sometimes, not soon enough.