Yuppie prices in non-yuppie cities

After doing some exploration in the Des Moines area yesterday, we did a day trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and went into my 44th state (and Chris’s 46th state). My general feeling of Omaha is that it seems more interesting of a place to visit than Des Moines, with a few more tourist attractions, including the Durham Museum and overall better art museums, as well as a few quirky neighborhoods that would warrant some extra strolling and exploring. It also helps that Warren Buffet is from here (and, well, he still lives here, in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500)!. We actually drove past his house just to take a look at it.

Chris and I almost never check any bags during our travel, and especially during three-day weekend trips around the country; that would be nearly blasphemy to him. The only exceptions to this are to and from Australia (for things like Christmas gifts, packing his supply of Arnott’s Tim Tams and other chocolates until his next trip), or places like Japan and Korea (where we all know I will be stocking up on beauty products and green tea/cherry-blossom/Asian-flavors of all things I can put in my mouth). We didn’t even check bags to and from Italy, Spain, or Portugal — all delicious foodie places where I could have easily brought back a lot of wine, olive oil, sardines, etc. But when we went to the Old Market Farmers Market, one of the most popular farmers’ markets that is open on Saturdays here in Omaha, somehow we all found ourselves captivated by the It’s All About Bees honey stand, which makes and sells raw and flavored honeys, jams, as well as other body products made from local honey. Honeys, with their antibacterial properties and health benefits, have gotten quite expensive, so it was actually a surprise to see these honeys which were raw and still reasonably priced, whether it was for a small 6 oz. container or a larger 24 oz. container. Their variety of honey was extremely extensive, and they generously allow you to sample pretty much all of them. We collectively ended up buying six jars of honey, mostly driven because Chris’s mom wanted to buy some, so Chris said that since this would require a checked bag that we might as well buy some, too. We bought all three of their varieties of raw honey (plain, orange blossom, and buckwheat), and also the lavender (I’m currently obsessed with all things lavender that are edible and even bought a bag of organic lavender for cooking purposes — it’s so good!). To think that we ended up checking a bag from a place like Iowa/Nebraska over Italy or Spain!!

The most amusing thing to me about visiting farmers markets around the country is that even when you might think that things may be cheaper just because you’re no longer in a major city, this definitely is almost never the case with “trendy” or “yuppie” products like hand-crafted soaps, lip balms, hand salves, and coffee. While the honey was cheaper than what I was expecting, all the pricing for these other items we saw were competitive with farmers’ markets back in San Francisco and New York — about $3.50-4 for lip balms, $10-20 for hand salves, and $16-18 for a 12 oz. bag of locally roasted (and very strong) whole coffee beans (wow – that’s just like Stumptown pricing!). The coffee stand we stopped at for a sample even had Keurig cups for their coffee. I marveled at this. “Hey, I’m a capitalist so….” the vendor said, smiling.

I suppose the demand for these items is everywhere, so everywhere a segment of the population will always be wiling to pay these higher prices for what they perceive to be a higher quality good.

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