Caltrain bullets, Costco hotdogs: both a great bargain
- Published Sunday, May 27, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News
Herhold: Digging out Silicon Valley's best bargains
By Scott Herhold
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
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
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.
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
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.