October 15, 2016

The Shaving Mafia

The shaving mafia is cutting into your bottom line.
So, here's a random Saturday rant: shaving. No matter who you are, chances are excellent that at some point in your life you're going to be regularly shaving some part of your body. And, chances are excellent that you're going to shave that hair away with a two- or three-blade razor sold to you in a plastic package - perhaps you purchased the handle and got some free razor heads, or maybe you're paying protection money to the Shaving Mafia every time you purchase disposable razor heads at wildly inflated prices.

"A mafia," you say? I do say. Gillette, Schick, and other mafia bosses are controlling the shaving racket and keeping folks like you and me in the habit of paying protection money to protect ourselves from the danger of straight razors and double-edged razor blades. Every time you walk into the pharmacy to buy your razor blades, you come face to face with the mafia boss sitting in his big, black chair in a smoke-filled, dimly-lit room: "You don't want to take a chance with those other blades. Just pay your money and we'll make sure you don't get cut. You don't want to get cut, do you?"

Well, I got fed up with the razor-blade mafia and stopped paying for protection. Last year I moved to a single-blade shaving system when I purchased a twist-to-close Weishi razor handle. There was an adjustment period, for sure, but once I got clear of the mafia, I never looked back. Are you still paying for protection? If you are, then you're getting robbed. Think about it:

Gillette's Mach 3 razor may be the most popular triple-blade razor on the market. WalMart wants me to pay $17 for a pack of 5 disposable razor heads. This works out to $3.40 per razor blade, which gets about 10 shaves before crapping out. This means that with a Mach 3 razor blade, I'm paying about $.34 per shave. Oh, and don't forget that the entire package you purchased - plastic packaging, plastic blade holster, blade handle, and the blade itself - is landfill. You can't recycle any of it.

Compare that to double-edged razor blades. WalMart.ca sells those, too: for a package of 5 Wilkinson Sword Classic razor-blades, they'll only charge me $6, or $1.20 per blade. At four shaves per blade, this means I'm paying $.30 per shave. The mafia boss speaks up: "See? I told you this would happen. You're cheating me out of a nickel, and you're not even getting a good shave out of it. Give up on those other blades - only I can protect you."

Perhaps out of desperation you'll abandon the big bosses of the shaving mafia and turn to small-time operators like Dollar Shave Club. You might think you're escaping the protection racket, but their cheapest option is for them to send you four twin-blade razor heads a month at a cost of $3.50, or $.88 per blade. Assuming you can actually get 7 shaves out of this puny blade, then that's going to cost you $.13 per shave - and just like a Mach 3 razor head, it can't be recycled and is only good for landfill after it goes dull. I haven't used Dollar Shave Club, but if their two-blade disposables are like the disposable razors I can buy in the store, I'm doubtful that I can get even two shaves out of it. So you might halve your shaving costs by choosing the cheapest option at Dollar Shave Club, but you can do better.

Yes - if you really want to escape the shaving mafia, you have to stop shopping where the mafia does business. No more WalMart, Rexall, Shoppers Drug Mart, or discount razor clubs. Oh, no - if you want to hit the shaving mafia where it hurts, then you have to brave the wilds of eBay where you can buy bulk packages of 100 double-edged razor blades for $13. This works out to $.13 per blade, or $.03 per shave. And, unlike the Mach 3 razor, double-edged razor blades are steel: you can recycle them, and you can also frequently recycle the cardboard and paper packaging they're delivered in. And of course, your shaving handle is all-metal and will live longer than your grandchildren.

Go ahead - throw the boss of the shaving mafia off the roof. I'll even give you an alibi.

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