People walking past an independently owned computer store
Shopping Tech Culture

Why Should I Pay More for a Computer from My Local Store?

July 9, 2019

Walk into a big box retailer and you can walk out with a laptop for just under $300. Then go into a small computer shop and try to buy a similar computer for around $600. They look similar. They seem to have the same capabilities. Why is the small shop’s computer so expensive? The answer isn’t what you think. 

You might think the small shop’s computers are more expensive because they can’t buy bulk. Or that they’re just trying to trick you into paying more for the same thing. But it has nothing to do with anything like that. 

In fact, the mark-up on both the big box and small shop computers is surprisingly little. 

The small shop computer is more likely to be a business class computer. The big box stores are consumer class. So what does that mean? 

 Even though the base model number may be the same, they aren’t the same computer. 

Consumer models are made at higher volumes, with cheaper components, and less stringent quality control. You’d be lucky if they test 1 out of every 1000 computers coming off the line. Many small shops test every computer before they go out the door. 

Consumer models have a shorter product life cycle – meaning if you buy one today, they may stop making it in less than 6 months. That can make parts harder to get. Business class computers often have the same model available for over a year. 

Consumer models tend to have shorter warranties and may need to be sent to a repair depot for warranty repair. Otherwise, the person that sells you your pens may be the person ‘fixing’ your computer. 

Small shops tend to give a lengthy warranty for business class computers. Sometimes, as much as two years, and up to three years on individual parts. 

If support is needed for a consumer model, you have to call a toll-free number, wait, and talk to someone who generally is making minimum wage and couldn’t care less about you. The people at your local shop probably know your name. 

All that should tell you that paying a bit more for a computer from your local shop is likely worth it. If that isn’t enough, you’ll also be supporting a local business. Happy computing! 

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