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'Showrooming' at the local flea market


Book Credit: (iStock)

Last summer, I had a revelation while shopping at the Antiques Garage Flea Market in Chelsea.

I was looking at a $25 art book and having a tough time deciding whether it was worth it.

So I did something that to this day makes me feel guilty - I whipped out my iPhone and looked up the price on Amazon.

Now, I'm the type of person who complains that New York has become overrun with big chain stores that push out the very locals that make this city an interesting place.

Luckily, I quickly came to my senses and decided that if I continued on this wayward path, I would have no right to bellyache about the destruction of authentic New York at the hands of the privileged.

So I locked my iPhone and just bought the book at the market, paying an extra $18 in the name of supporting the local economy.

Doing price comparisons online via smartphone while shopping in an actual retail store is called "showrooming." Typically, this happens in big name-brand stores such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart, making my flea market temptation an exception to the rule.

But this week, Target started fighting back against showrooming by agreeing to match prices from online shops such as Amazon year-round.

It probably isn't a big deal for Target. The company previously said that during the holiday season, a similar program didn't result in much price matching among customers.

However, it does seem to be a canary in the coal mine for a retail future where for any given product, Amazon's algorithms set the price.


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