Why Is Adafruit So Damn Expensive

March 2, 2016 adafruit opinion

Adafruit is an online store synonymous with the word “maker”. They sell electronic parts and kits to “make” gadgets that in most cases you can buy fully built. For example their MintyBoost is a $20 AA to USB charger you “make” yourself and it doesn’t work on all phones. However for $5, You can buy an already-assembled similar gadget on Ebay (screenshot).

Another example is this WiFi adapter designed to work with Linux systems like the Raspberry Pi and the BeagleBone Black. A quick search on Ebay for the chipset, 8188CUS, shows one can be purchased for about $3 including shipping. Adafruit, on the other hand, charges extra for shipping starting at around $6 or so.

I understand that Adafruit has to make a profit and, unlike most Ebay sellers, have fast shipping with easy returns and exchanges. However, that doesn’t justify 3x - 4x markups. If an Ebay item does not work as advertised then I’d simply order another one, it is very unlikely I’d get 3 or 4 bad ones in a row. Plus the threat of a PayPal chargeback coupled a bad review and subsequent loss in sales keeps most Ebay sellers honest.

So how can the frugal semi-literate techie work around these incredibly high markups?