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[ The PC Guide | Articles and Editorials | There's No Business, Like Show Business... ]

Does Your PC Have Fleas?

The computer shows discussed in this article are essentially gigantic computer-focused flea markets. They differ from flea markets in the types of products sold, and also in that most items are new and not used. But otherwise, the model is identical: a large room (or rooms) filled with hundreds of tables covered with hardware and software products, ready for your cold hard cash.

Computer shows are a fantastic opportunity to get an excellent deal, for those who are prepared and know what they are doing. The reason is simple: computer shows are in many ways capitalism at its best: there is almost nothing for sale at one table that is not for sale at a dozen others, so there is little room for high markups, and little to keep you from walking away from a salesman who sounds dishonest. Prices are often as good as you will find anywhere, almost everything is there "in stock" and of course there is no shipping to worry about.

Unfortunately, computer shows can also sometimes be capitalism at its worst. There are inevitably a few bad apple vendors that give the rest a bad name. And there are many pitfalls that the unwary can fall into when shopping at a show.

Most shows are produced by show promotion companies, and run primarily geographically. Promoters usually focus on a particular region of the country and offer shows in a few states only. They usually have web sites and can be located using the major search engines.

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