Frugal Filmmaker Retail Resources

I've recently moved to a new town and the first thing I did was check for the stores that I use to help me build my DIY gear. In making this move I was worried that I would lose some of the brick-and-mortar supply houses that I've come to rely on. Sure, there's always the internet, but sometimes you need a quick part and it's nice to know you can just go down the street to pick it up.

Here are the top six stores that I've come to rely on. They are all pretty common (in the U.S.) and pricing is universal:

Home Depot. If you build a lot of DIY stuff, a good hardware store is a must. The Depot is a large chain that you can find everywhere and they have the best prices. They carry just about everything you'll need from light dimmers to PVC pipe--even gaffer's tape! Lowe's is the only place I could find PVC snap tees and I prefer the PVC plugs found at ACE (their octagonal shape makes for easy hole-centering), but Home Depot is king.

Harbor Freight Tools. This China importer has a lot of great deals on tools as well as a host of weird stuff you will find creeping it's way into your DIY curriculum. The most important tool found here is PVC ratcheting cutters, the simplest, cleanest and fastest way to slice through PVC pipe (and only $5!). I've also found countersink bits, cable ties, clamps, multimeters, and a host of other stuff at prices no one else can beat. Frequent sales drop the prices even lower.

Dollar Tree. Having any dollar store nearby is very important and The Tree is the most common. The Mini Camera Stabilizer was born here, but you'll find all kinds of useful cases, camera mounts and props that won't set you back more than a buck.

Best Buy. This place won me over when they dispensed with their rebate policy and instead passed the savings immediately on to the consumer (a probable reason Circuit City folded). I make all my computer-related purchases there (laptops, hard drives, mice). Just skip the extended warranties if you feel like you can.

Wal-Mart. While I haven't found Wally World to be indispensible, it's nice to have around just in case. Their prices are still some of the best and you'll find stuff there you can't find anywhere else, such as sandbag alternatives or counterweights for your Frugal Crane. Recently, Vincent Vasquez has been using a $15 Targus monopod found here for all kinds of things.

Radio Shack. While Rat Shack has moved away from it's DIY roots, it's still the only chain electronic parts store. They are everywhere and sell those much needed bits as well useful electronics. I'm still using the cheap lav mic on my web show that I purchased there. Watch for clearance sales to snag some really good deals.

Those are my top picks. Do you have any others?


Jeremy Widen said…
They aren't everywhere(maybe just northern California), but Frys Electronics has quickly become my go to electronics store. They literally carry everything electronic. So, finding a piece, or something that I can cannibalise for a piece has become like clockwork.