Shopping for a new coffee maker

The other day, my coffee maker died. Back in the day, as they say, you could try taking the thing apart and maybe replace the heating element, switch, or something else.

These days, small appliances like this are assembled with spot welds, one-way plastic tabs, and cheesy screws such that disassembling them without destroying them is virtually impossible. So I had to toss it in the garbage, though I did save the power cord. At worst, I can recycle the wire; at best I can use it to replace a worn out cord on something else.

In the old days, at this point I would have run down to Sears at Colonie Center. There I would have found probably a dozen different coffee makers in various price ranges. After studying them for about five minutes, I would have selected one and that would have been it. Done. But, as we all know, it ain’t that easy anymore.

Now there are numerous websites devoted to coffee makers. Here every aspect of them will be dissected ad-nauseum by their many aficionados.

Of course that will lead you to Amazon, where you will find even more coffee makers with many reviews to study. The thing is, can you trust any one review? No, because it could be, I almost hate to say it, “fake news.”

That means you have to read at least 20 reviews and then take the average if you want to be sure you’re getting accurate information. That’s a lot of work, even when you’re sitting in front of the computer in your pajamas while eating a whole can of Pringles.

That’s why Sears used to be so great. For me, it was one-stop shopping, especially during the holidays. You had your whole family covered at Sears, since you could get a blouse and a wrench and everything in between.

Going to the store in person meant you could easily look at and touch the merchandise as well, and get this: You often had to interact with people. What a novel concept. A lot of us should get off our phones and computers and try it sometime, haha.

I still needed a coffee pot when I found myself in the supermarket. I decided to visit the coffee aisle. They had exactly two models of coffee makers there.

One was a simple automatic drip type, like the one I’d been using for years. It was even marked down to 50- percent off. Yippee. I quickly stuffed it into my cart.

As my glasses were fogged over from wearing a mask in the store due to the COVID pandemic and I could barely see anything, I had to make sure not to set it on top of my hopefully someday ripe tomatoes. Such is life in the time of COVID.

At this point, many folks would have whipped out their smartphone, scanned the UPC code on the coffee maker, and quickly found out the cheapest price on Amazon and other websites in case they wanted to save a few bucks. I have that app on my phone as well, but I never, ever use it.

Here’s the thing: That supermarket did me a favor by stocking that coffee maker. By doing so, I could just run in and grab it. That supermarket pays taxes to my town, employs my friends and neighbors, and endeavors to provide a safe and clean place where I can shop in peace.

It’s more important for me to buy locally like this — heck, they were even giving me 50-percent off — and keep them in business than to save a few bucks. I sincerely hope many of you agree.

I know we aren’t getting Sears back anytime soon. That’s too bad. Having a place to go where you can pick up quality merchandise when you want it and at a fair price, with actual people to interact with, is a good thing.

If you remember, Sears was even kind enough to put registers in each individual section of the store. You paid for your blouse in ladies wear, from someone who knew about ladies wear, and you paid for your wrench in tools, from someone who knew about tools. How great was that?

I often had questions when buying gifts and I really appreciated having people to ask. Perfect example of what Joni Mitchell sings about so beautifully in “Big Yellow Taxi:” “…You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Amen to that, Joni.

Yes, I know there are other big stores that have a large selection of different merchandise, but Sears was special. They had Craftsman tools with the lifetime warranty, they had the big catalog, and they just had a good all-American “feel.”

Other mass market retailers — I won’t mention names — give me a creepy feeling. They carry a lot of cheaply made junk, there are never enough registers open, and while the prices are cheap so is the atmosphere. I can’t wait to get out of there when I’m forced to shop in those kinds of places. I never felt that way in Sears.

Like many of us, I buy stuff online all the time, but I make sure to support local stores whenever I can. Unfortunately, some of the stuff I need is so oddball (electronic parts, specialty tools, vintage motorcycle parts, etc.) no one local even carries it.

Other things I just won’t ever buy online, like shoes. They’re something I really need to try on first, unless it’s something simple like an orange pair of Crocs.

I looked at plenty of guitars online as well. Hours and hours, let me tell you. But it was only when I picked up “my” guitar in person, right in the store where I could touch and feel it, that I knew I had the right one. I know, a guitar is just another manmade inanimate object, but the “right” one will be obvious the minute you touch it.

I could go on but it makes no sense to lament the way things were. Life has moved on. I think I’ll make a pot of coffee instead.