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Caltrain bullets, Costco hotdogs: both a great bargain

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  • 5/27 SJ Mercury
    Published Sunday, May 27, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News Herhold: Digging out Silicon Valley s best bargains By Scott Herhold Mercury News Almost all of us
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2007
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      Published Sunday, May 27, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News

      Herhold: Digging out Silicon Valley's best bargains

      By Scott Herhold
      Mercury News

      Almost all of us love a bargain. If nothing else, it confers bragging
      rights. We can tell our friends how little we paid for something
      really good. However rich you are, the sense of getting a deal for
      your money never really disappears, unless perhaps you're Rupert
      Murdoch.

      I come by my interest in this subject honestly. One side of my family
      always has been avid bargain-hunters. My father used to buy whole
      flats of strawberries -- 24 baskets -- because, well, they were just
      too cheap to pass up at fruit stands.

      So as summer approaches, I'm going to devote space to a practical
      question: What are the top 10 bargains in Santa Clara County and its
      environs?

      By bargain, I don't mean price alone. Yes, I know you can go on
      craigslist -- a.k.a. the Dark Side for newspapers -- and pick up a
      free futon in Concord or a near-pristine set of English-as-a-second-
      language books in Pacifica.

      Nor am I talking of the price-shaving that you can find on web-
      comparison sites like Lycos or Amazon, where you might save a couple
      bucks on an MP3 player or cell phone.

      Value matters

      What I mean is value delivered for a reasonable price. A Chilean
      cabernet sauvignon (Concha Y Toro) that costs $7 at Trader Joe's is
      a better bargain than Two-Buck Chuck. It's more than triply good.

      This is where I need your help. I'm asking people to e-mail or call
      me with their nominations for bargains in our locale. I'll run them
      past a distinguished jury -- OK, a few of my fellow ink-stained
      wretches - and announce the winners before vacations begin in
      earnest. We'll publish the runners-up online, with the names of
      contributors.

      For our purposes, I'm going to set down a few arbitrary rules. A
      bargain can be a service, an amusement, or goods. It has to be local.
      It should cost less than $200. And it should have general appeal. The
      World War I submarine a great-uncle of mine bought incredibly cheap
      won't make it. Sorry, Uncle Art.

      Let me give you a few ideas of what I consider bargains: Feel free
      to send me your nominations or dissents.

      A) The Costco Hot Dog - At $1.50 for a good-sized dog and a drink,
      this is a bargain that's hard to pass up. Tasty ingredients, big
      cups. I don't even eat hot dogs often and I'm still tempted.

      B) The Bullet Train - The value in Caltrain's San Jose-to-San
      Francisco express lies in saving time and hassle: It's hard to beat
      an hour trip into San Francisco. With a ten-ride coupon, it costs
      only $12.75 per round trip, less than a car.

      [...]

      So have at it. You probably can do even better than this. The jury
      awaits. We'll report back.


      Contact Scott Herhold at sherhold@... or (408) 920-5877.
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