Wes Baker

Why I Buy

September 1st, 2011

Do I need to buy this? Are there alternatives? How long will this last? These are things I think about when buying anything. Questions fly through my head when I start to think about buying something. It’s been trained into everyone by our society and whether you like it or not, the vast majority of people approach stuff this way.

One time when my then-fiancee (now wife) and I met my parents, my wife brought up my expensive tastes and my father chimed in, “Wes doesn’t want much, but what he wants is high quality.” Ever since then, how I approach buying things has made far more sense. I’m picky and I’m exacting and if it’s not what I want and it’s not good enough, I’ll most likely gnash my teeth until I realize I simply shouldn’t buy it.

When I start thinking about buying something, I need to know two things:

  • How long do I plan on owning or using it?
  • What levels of quality are available to me?

If I don’t plan on owning something for a long time, I start to question whether or not I should even buy it. Maybe I can get away with borrowing, renting, substituting or just doing without it. However, if I need to buy something and I don’t plan on having it for a while, then I’ll get the lowest acceptable quality available. I don’t want it falling apart, but I can skip the archival quality.

However, if I do plan on owning it for a while—and most things fall into this category for myself—then I start looking at quality a lot more. How long will this last me? Will it still be in good quality when I’m done with it?

For example, my safety razor is a very solid piece of steel that has been molded into something that I can shave with. Between the look and the heft, I have a feeling it’s something my kids will ask me about one day. Also, my shaving brush is a hand made ordeal, carved, stuffed created by someone else’s hands, not a machine. These things will last.

In the same vein, I tend to buy hardback books these days because if I’m going to lend it to a family member or a friend, or hand it down to my children, I want to know that it’s not going to fall apart between now and then. I want a book that won’t fall apart after a handful of readings.

At the end of the day, I want things that will pass the test of time and be around and be useful in the future. I want something that has heft and an obvious feel that it’s creator loved making it. I want something of quality and substance, if only because so many things these days are made to last only long enough for us to either forget about them or move on to something new.