Friday, September 01, 2006

Price Check

I have started studying for the GRE. My Princeton Review book (which cost me more in shipping than it did for the actual book) has given me a list of approximately 5 billion words that I need to learn for the verbal section. I would really like a high score, so I plan to be able to recite the dictionary definitions of all 5 billion words by the time I take the test in October. Flash cards have always been an effective study method for me, so when as soon as I got to the vocab section of my studying, I set out to find some index cards. Should be simple, right?

I figured that if New Zealand is anything like the US, I would be able to pick them up from the supermarket on our weekly grocery shopping expedition. New World supermarket is pretty much like any supermarket in the US, so they have an office supply section with notebooks, pencils, envelopes, etc, but, as I discovered, no index cards. As I was looking around the shelves, I asked my flatmate if she saw any, but she didn’t know what an index card was. “Um, what else do we call them? A 3 by 5 card… no, I guess you wouldn’t call it that either. Well, it’s basically a little blank card that I can use to make flash cards.” Man, I am bad at describing things (this morning I tried to explain molasses to my coworker and failed at that too. This does not bode well for my success on the writing section of the GRE).

It wasn’t really surprising that a supermarket had a small selection of office supplies, so I figured I would check out the $2 Shop (they have $2 shops/fast food menus/etc the same way we have $1 stuff at home. $1 would be too cheap—based on the exchange rate, it would be like having a 65 cent store in the US). They had a much bigger office supply selection, but still no index cards. And there was nothing even close—no recipe cards, rolodex cards, etc. What do Kiwis have against indexing things?

My next stop was Whitcoull’s, a bookstore with a large office supply section. It took a lot of hunting, but finally I found what I was looking for. And that’s when I realized why I hadn’t found them at the $2 shop: they were seriously expensive! Not that I go around comparing index card pricing, but I do know that $8.99 for a pack of 100 cards is a little ridiculous. Again I thought I could save some money by going for something similar like rolodex or recipe cards, but those were even worse: $24.99 for 50 rolodex cards? It costs that much extra to punch out the little holes at the bottom?

Just last week Roni and I were discussing how strange the pricing is on some things over here. Stuff like toothpaste and shampoo is relatively cheap, especially when you convert to American dollars (which I try not to do, seeing as I am earning New Zealand dollars). Some clothes—t-shirts and other casual stuff—is not too bad either. But then shoes are really, really expensive. A pair of cheap shoes that I would maybe pay US$20 for at Target will cost NZ$100+ over here! It’s all very random and confusing, but in the end I think it is just another indication that I should be saving money for travel and souvenirs instead of developing a shoe (or index card) collection that I will just have to leave behind when I come home.


Out of curiosity I just did a quick search on for index cards, and found that a pack of 500 costs US$2.99. Let’s do some math: NZ$8.99 for a pack of 100, means that a pack of 500 would cost NZ$44.95! Even if I convert using today's exchange rate of NZ$1=US$0.65, that is still US$29.23 for a pack of 500, which is clearly out of control. That's a 978% markup!

The good news is that I am going to do awesome on the math section of the GRE.


Roni said...

You should try Warehouse Stationary on Victoria St or the one on Cable and Tory. A lot of the teachers I work with (and teachers are notoriously cheap) say that you can find most paper products there for a reasonable price. The Warehouse also has an office/school supplies section that's pretty cheap, but they're hit and miss most of the time.

OfficeMax on Willis may also be a good bet, and they tend to be cheaper than book stores for things like pads of paper and such.

esl said...

Geetha you crack me up!