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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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My kingdom for an SD card

6 Dec 2023

Yesterday I found that I needed a microSD card for a project I'm working on.

In the third decade of the 21st century, you'd think that it would be pretty easy to find somewhere that sold SD cards in a town of 14,000 people.

Apparently it's not.

Since the local Noel Leeming branch shut up shop and left town (thanks to the effects of the local council's $4m "facelift" project that was supposed to revitalise the town but has done exactly the opposite), finding a purveyor of SD cards has been quite a challenge.

Normally I'd just jump online and grab something from the likes of PBTech who have some great deals... such as this 128GB Samsung V30 card for the very reasonable sum of $29 but yesterday's need was urgent so a local source would be the only option.

My first thought was that surely The Warehouse would stock such things.

You'd think that a company which sold phones and other devices that have slots for microSD cards would also supply those very things... right?

Well a search for "microsd card" on The Warehouse's website turned up nothing. The few hits that did show were not for products stocked by TWH themselves but partners on TheMarketplace site so were (at best) next-day delivery.

I took a walk into town and visited a range of shops that I thought might have SD cards but to no avail.

Apparently, in other places, such things are stocked at Post Offices (we don't have one) and even supermarkets -- but not here. To be honest, you're lucky to find *anything* at our local supermarkets and I've now discovered that most of my food preferences are only available by ordering directly from the manufacturer or distributor (perhaps more on that in a future column).

When I got home I ordered some spare cards online but then wondered if it might actually be worth paying a visit to The Warehouse in person -- so I walked back to town and did so.

Well blow me down... they *do* have microSD cards -- albeit they're not on display and, as you saw earlier, are not mentioned on their website.

WTF Warehouse?

And... they're bloody expensive!

I had to pay $40 for a 64GB V30 card (yeah, 30% more cash for just half the capacity when compared to online suppliers).

What a rip-off -- however, I really needed the card immediately so I had no option but to let them rip me a new one.

To be honest, this transaction reminded me of buying prophylactics during my teenage years.

A discreet conversation in hushed tones with the sales assistant who then reached into a locked cupboard and pulled out a little bag of items that were very limited in choice and quite expensive -- but essential for the evening's planned activities. Money was paid and the small square package was carefully placed into the back pocket of my pants so that I could leave without attracting any attention.

Yet, of course, as I walked through the door the RFID circuit in the packaging set off the beeping alarms and flashing lights to indicate that I might have stolen something. To her credit, the security guard just smiled and I kept walking.

As I type up this column at 2:30am on a Wednesday morning I have begun to realise that in recent months I've bought a lot of stuff online -- not because I wanted to but because it's really the only option now. As the number of "for lease" signs in the CBD grows on an almost daily basis and as those retailers that are still in business seem to continuously pare down their inventory I find that I might as well be living in village these days.

I wonder what the real relationship is between online shopping and the demise of retail CBD businesses is. Are we losing retailers because people are increasingly turning to the internet for their shopping or is it the loss of shops that is forcing people online?

The answer is unclear but what is very much apparent is that I shall soon just give up on buying anything locally due to the frustration involved.

How's that good for the planet -- given all the extra courier trips that creates?

Carpe Diem folks!

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