Bitesize Bio’s Jason Erk says "laboratories around the world find creative ways to do more with less." Creatively stretching budgets, lab heads can also save "money [that] can be put towards supplies needed to do the science," he adds. When it comes to stocking the lab, Erk recommends shopping around – both within and outside of an institution. "Do the Research Stores (as they're known at my institution) have the lowest prices? Not always – but often, the prices will be better than a vendor's list price once you've factored in shipping and handling," Erk says. Plus, he adds, "if the item that you want is in stock, you can drop by and get it today. … The staff are your colleagues, and your questions can be answered expediently." Of course, in-house suppliers can't carry every vendor item a particular lab might need. ("Supplies are often tailored to the types of research ongoing at your institution," Erk says.) In addition, sometimes it's best to order directly through a vendor for other reasons. "Some situations where this may be more advantageous to you include: special order and made-to-order items, such as antibodies, probes, or reagents; next-day orders or rush deliveries; and restricted items that require you to have an individual permit or license," Erk says. Overall, he adds, keeping a lab supplied during a budget crunch often requires searching for deals.
Nov 14, 2011