two_dollar_billMy seven year old son gets a $2 per week allowance. He doesn't really do anything to earn this money. Rather I give him (and his brother) an allowance to teach them how to save for things that they want. Implied, and in fact part of the bargain, is that they can't hassle me for Pokémon cards, or Wii games, or anything else they "need", because they have their own money. Well, about a month or two ago my seven year old mandated that I start paying him with a $2 bill. Yikes! Where was I going to get even one $2 bill, let alone one every week?

As we consider my situation, let's juxtapose something we've all been hearing for 10 plus years now. The brick and mortar (fill in the blank) is antiquated, and on its way to irrelevance. The Internet is the way that EVERYBODY is going to shop for and do EVERYTHING! Heck, I've heard it so many times and for so long that I agree with it, which is odd since the only items I consistently buy online are books, DVDs and music.

That said, I do conduct a bit of "shopping" online. For instance, when shopping for a flat-screen TV I gave myself an online education on the difference between Plasma and LCD, what 1080p and 1080i mean, what other features might be important, the reputation of various brands, and loosely what I might end up spending. Armed with this information I then drove to a few local retailers and proceeded to touch, look, listen, and question the sales reps until I made a my choice. What was that choice based on? Well, once I settled on the size I was looking for and deemed one of the brands the best value in terms of the picture quality-price trade-off, and also after realizing that the different stores all had the same prices, I went with the store whose sales rep was the most helpful. Well, how very 1980's of me.

Now, I am a researcher, so I'm very clear on the fact that the desires and behaviors of one person - me in this case - are not necessarily representative of what the market wants or will do to get it. But I've also been around long enough to know that whether you are talking about selling electronics, providing financial services, or pretty much anything in between, different people are going to have different needs and preferences about what they want and how they mean to get it. Far from a silver bullet, the Internet merely represents one of several sometimes complementary means to the desired end, as does a physical brick and mortar presence.

So, back to the $2 bill for my son...what did I do? Well, I have accounts with two banks, one strictly an Internet play and one with physical branch around the corner from my house, and one that apparently stocks $2 bills.