Open source and open standards are taking hold, big-time. Web access to numerous public and private services are also growing rapidly. The ability to search, find and link to information of all kinds is truly awesome. In spite of this, there are many companies that still seem to be in the dark.
GarageTek has a great product and appears to be the leader in garage organization systems. I am really happy with their system, except that their tool holder is not very good and their selection of other hanging accessories is limited and what they do have is not available online. Their franchisees are small businesses that only have hours when I don’t so it is hard to buy from them. That’s one of the key reasons why e-commerce is booming — people can buy at midnight or six in the morning. I was sure that by now there would be competitive OEM "garagetek" accessories available online and I found some at Sporty’s Toolshop but I was not sure they would be compatible. Even though the Sporty’s accessories appeared to be compatible, the product specialist could not say because she "never heard of GarageTek". I asked who the manufacturer of their accessories was but they said it was "against their policy to reveal that information".
Knowing I could return them if they did not fit, I ordered a few accessories from Sporty’s. They are very nice — much better than what GarageTek offers. The products came in packaging that said "Suncast" and so I checked out their website. It said
NOTE: To avoid competing with our retailers, we will only sell replacement parts on-line. For a listing of the retailers where you can purchase our product please click on the Find a Retailer link listed above
The link showed a list of "bricks and mortar" retailers with no websites or email addresses. They did not even show Sporty’s as one of their retailers even though that is where I had bought the products.
The "bunker" mentality that ignores "power to the people" was understandable ten years ago but at this point the Sporty’s and Suncast approaches seem Neanderthal at best. Whether it is manufacturers who are protecting their retailers, governments who regulate wine sales, or wholesalers who protect unjustified layers in the supply chain, demand from consumers on the Internet will ultimately determine the channels of distribution. The businesses that understand that and create an on demand model will be the winners.