First, the way Wal-Mart has been dropping product lines and raising food prices continues.
The Great Value store brand pudding cups I like – still gone. And there are other products that they have dropped since the last time I got it. It isn’t really drastic, and they move stuff around rather than leave blank shelves, but they are changing.
The Peak Oil premise claims that the end of cheap energy will make shipping food more expensive. And the increase in energy cost will also make food unavailable.
The crunch in credit availability means that businesses have to operate using cash instead of credit. This means that having very much product in inventory doesn’t make sense. Changes from volume buying practices will also increase pressure to raise prices.
The Ekco 1045659 Can and Bottle Opener – the “Miracle Turn”
Ekco makes a nifty can opener. It has been around for decades, works nicely. Chromed steel, it is moderately inexpensive, but doesn’t look sleek and sexy and big plastic handles or nifty “easy” motors. You spread the lever from the handle, slip it onto the lip of the can, squeeze the lever and begin turning the thumb dial. Cut the top of the can off, and voiler! an open tin can, just like Grandma did it.
It seems that the only major distributor still carrying Ekco products – is Ace Hardware stores. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc. have all dropped the very functional Ekco steel gizmos for plasic and nylon handled stuff with better markup. I keep mine in the drawer, so appearance doesn’t matter near as much as the fact it doesn’t bind up like the others, or take up as much room in the drawer. The one I use today I got at a flea market some 6 years ago or so.
So I thought I would plan on a replacement – eventually they start to rust, and .. stuff happens. Anyway, I looked at a couple of stores, didn’t find what I wanted. I Googled Ekco can openers. I found that World Kitchen distributes the Ekco can opener to Ace Hardware stores. And Brandt’s Hardware in Ponca City, OK, doesn’t carry the one I want. But they would special order me one .. er, three. Three is the minimum number the store could order. So I have three spares – ought to last me and my nephew for years.
This is the Miracle Roll model. The Miracle Turn is similar – except no handles. A tab latches onto the side of the can, and, with a minimum of operator skill, easily opens a tin can. It is smaller, easier to pack of you need to, and works well. But I wanted the 6 3/4″ long handled version.
The scary word – scarcity.
There are often ways to work around high prices during recession and inflation. But scarcity – too few products for the demand – that is really tough to get around. For necessities – scarcity will equal violence.
Can openers are a luxury. In need, you can bash a can with a rock or rod or another can until one splits – and you can try to catch the contents. Use a screwdriver to pierce and pry – that would work. A knife, that would dull the blade, but solve the immediate problem of getting into the can. Just beware – cleanliness counts. And dull knives cause more injuries than the sharpest knives – and the best knives are may break or shatter.
But what happens when the stores in town no longer have Ramen noodles – or boullion cubes? What when the last gas station open runs out?
When the tires that have gone to $100 and $150 each aren’t available for that 1991 Ford Escort Wagon? (down to a single tire line in this size, at Wal-Mart).
High prices are an annoyance, compared to scarcity. Instead of hollering about making Hummer’s “green” – how about requiring a standard tire size, a “green” wheel for each car that takes a standard size of tire?
Why not focus now on adapting to a reduced set of standard maintenance items – so more people are likely to have access to the tires and windshield wipers and other needed replacement items?
Standard bicycle tires, too.