It's Black Friday. Going shopping? Can't pass up those deals? Are you really saving money or just spending money? Having been in retailing on and off, selling everything from cameras to refrigerators to tennis balls to snow skis, I know the excitement from both sides of the cash register. The shopper getting a good deal and the merchant making a needed sale. Let me offer some thoughts. The big box stores have tremendous buying power and are not afraid to use it by selling you certain items at a loss. They advertise them as door busters, but the retailer calls them loss-leaders, meaning they are selling below cost, willing to loose money, to get you in the door and up sell you to a profitable item that costs more or convince you to buy more items, ones that are profitable. Small merchants don't have the buying power and therefore not the luxury of offering such low prices. They hope to get your business by giving you great service. Service, by helping you make an educated buying decision. Service, by helping you understand how to use the product correctly. Service, by being there when you need help after the sale. They can offer this service because most likely they are passionate about the product they sell and know it well. Product knowledge they are proud to share. Earlier this week I helped a couple hook up a television. I don't sell TVs, remember, I'm a photographer; but the place he made the purchase wouldn't help without charging a fee. Yep, the big boxes want you to pay for service. I am going to stop before this stops being a blog and turns into a rant. Just remember, you get what you pay for.