The first upgrade in the Menu at the General Store is a cause for great rejoicing as it gives you the options to purchase an Ice Cream Maker, a Refrigerator and a Telephone. Regrettably, the 'Small' Refrigerator that is offered is truly smaller than I ever would have imagined, consisting of no more than 5 slots! Even so, it is worth the price to some one who never has enough storage space...
I mention the Ice Cream Maker only because it is my favourite food and it is delightful to be able to whip up a number of different ice cream concoctions in Animal Parade. It is not really as significant a purchase as the Telephone, however.
The Telephone, both in Tree of Tranquility and in Animal Parade, allows you to order goods from local merchants without leaving your house. Before the letter from Barbar arrived to announce the upgrade, I clocked the time it took to travel from the Lighthouse back to my Farmhouse riding my trusty Cow. It took almost 40 minutes... One therefore could be forgiven for applauding the arrival of modern catalogue purchasing power.
In all honesty, it was the opportunity to buy seeds from Taylor that excited me most as it probably will be a player's first chance to expand the variety of Crops he/she can grow. I noticed an instant difference in price between the Seeds sold at the Marimba Farm and the same Seeds when offered by Taylor. Taylor's price was double that of his parents.
Accessing the Marimba Farm menu via telephone, however, showed me that it is catalogue shopping in general that it far more expensive than an on-site purchase from the same shop. The seeds sold by the Marimba Farm via telephone were twice as expansive as the same Seeds that you could buy at the Farm provided you were willing to take the time to travel there. It must be the Delivery Charges that double the price of any telephone purchase!
I found this most entertaining actually. It is a nice little sociological (and political) statement on the part of the creators of Harvest Moon. You are encouraged to pursue a healthy and socially interactive life by visiting the shops yourself rather than allowing 'your fingers to do the walking' as an old telephone company advertisement put it.
Nonetheless, I shall buy some Seeds from Taylor that are not yet unlocked at the Marimba Farm.