Friday, January 2, 2009


If the economic situation continues on its present course, buying QUALITY products will become more important for several reasons.

Buying QUALITY actually saves you money. Cheap (no necessarily cheap price) items almost always need replacing before their quality counterpart. Cheap does not save you money - buying QUALITY on SALE saves you money. Sales are pretty predictable. Even grocery stores rotate their sales on about an 8 week schedule (the grocery game DOT com site can show you how to drastically cut down on your food bill and does a lot of the work for you). January usually has white sales and appliance sales. You know you can get gardening items on sale in October at the end of the season - knowing WHEN to make purchases will save you a ton. Buy right and just put it back until the following Spring when you need it....

Buying QUALITY may actually help those in the USA or elsewhere - at least not China... Most quality items are NOT made in CHINA. It gives me a good deal of pleasure to see that what I buy is made somewhere besides that evil country. (Yes, I said it - I believe China is evil - how else can you describe a country who will kill a child a year old because their parents already have a child....) Its not easy - in fact, its down right hard to find items NOT made in China. Make a game out of it but dont beat yourself up if you do buy something made in that country...

But I cant afford Quality, you say....OH YES YOU CAN....Now in these times, more than ever, your priority needs to be QUALITY - you may buy less, but what you buy will save. You must be committed because sometimes CHEAP is so tempting....dont fall for it.

Things made before the explosion of the Chinese crap and is still functional and working is QUALITY. You can easily find these items at garage sales, flea markets, 2nd hand stores, in your Grandparents' shed. You can find these items cheaper in price than the cheap Chinese stuff. **Here is my disclaimer - there are still companies out there that have internal quality control and even though their items are made in China, are fabulous products....if there is a fabulous product out there and it is made in China you probably cant go wrong supporting that company. We can only hope that when tax laws quit punishing companies, this company that makes quality will return to the country from which it was born.**

You must be able to SPOT Quality. You need to learn to know it when you see it. Items that are sewn will have reinforced stitching on key areas that will receive stress. You know good fabrics.... Rust can hide quality and old items that have it may just need to be cleaned up (assuming that the rust is surface and hasnt eaten through the item.) Quality sometimes has a good "weight" behind it. Quality has a tendency to keep the same "style" - KitchenAid mixers are an example. The attachments first made for their mixers fit the mixer they made yesterday. This is an great example that you can get attachments cheaper than brand new by buying used.

This is related to spotting Quality - dont always just go by the brand name. I have bought from companies that are pretty consistent in quality only to find that they changed the formula, changed the manufacturing, changed something and now its just not that great. I am still hacked about my daughter's school backpack bought at Eddie Bauer that fell apart a month into school this year... Conversely, I have found something that I have used for years at Walmart...

Finally, the most important thing about Quality is to take care of it. There is a change in mindset that needs to be made out of our "consumer/disposal" philosophy to one that takes time to clean, mend, treat, take care of our items. Value our items and those items will take care of you - the same can be said for people. This one shift of VALUE could cure many of the things that ale this great country. Valuing people, valuing workers, valuing quality products and the companies that make them, valuing work, valuing Values....I could go on....


Shy Wolf said...

Amen- you'll never regret buying quality regardless the price. We need to be reminded of this once in a while.

Mayberry said...

Good post! And nowadays I think you're much better off shoppin' garage/estate sales rather than the big box stores..... 90% of that is Chinese junk.....

Anonymous said...

Taking care of your equipment is paramount. Even the best piece of gear won't hold up if not properly maintained.

I have a Chinese generator, and it's an outstanding machine. It's run tried and true through some terrible weather and for long periods. I also have Chinese ammunition and some Chinese rifles and pistols, all of which are top flight.

I know what you mean about a lot of junk coming from China, that's true. But if you are careful, you can get good products from them at a good price.

theotherryan said...

I think quality is essential. Buying 5 of an item that is functionally single use (as some china made crap is) makes no sense regardless of the price.

At the same time people can get into stupidly expensive stuff. For example three Spyderco or Kershaw knives can be purchased for the price of an Emerson.

Three or four pair of Tasco binoculars could be purchased for the price of a fancy German pair.

Brad K. said...

Yes, but.

I think there is a place for moderate-quality things that you expect to replace. I am thinking mostly of those buying sets - cookware, shop hand tools, or other variety items.

You can usually find a set of small (1/16 - 1/4 inch) drill bits at a dollar store for a couple bucks. I recommend you buy such a set for a first set. Keep a notebook in your shop, kitchen, work area. Keep a journal entry for every project - note what drills, which screw drivers, which screws or bolts or glue or pan you use. Each month note which sizes, tools, pans got used three times that are still 'entry level' quality - and make plans to obtain one that is good quality. Fill in sizes you wished you had had, and replace any tools that break or are worn with better quality tools.

Learning the recorder? Pick a better grade of student soprano recorder - something a half-step up from the ivory Yamaha. Maybe a wood Gill or Hohner or other wood or plastic instrument. In a year, if you are still tootling, look for a better grade - and recognize that the best symphony grade import at a couple hundred dollars may be too difficult to play well for many symphony players, let alone someone well-started.

Professional tools, professional cookware - if you haven't learned to perform, consistently at that level, the 'best' may not work at all. Through inexperience you may damage or destroy the item, you may get hurt, and you may never be able to use it as well as a 'lesser quality' item better suited to your skills and needs.

A common mistake for new horse owners, it to buy a horse that does everything at a professional level. Such a horse isn't suitable for a beginning rider. A horse responds to how the rider moves in the saddle, moves their legs and hands. A beginning rider still has to learn to sit balanced and quietly, without unintentional motion - which confuses the honest, highly trained horse. Which frustrates the beginning rider.

I realize my comment isn't precisely about quality, but about matching appropriate skills and functions. For someone starting out a new hobby, craft, or picking up a new skill set, though, 'best quality' may be confused with 'the one used by the most highly skilled'. Which might be appropriate (such as Rachel Ray kinds of cookware).

Today I read questions about which knives to buy for the kitchen. The question centered on a $200 budget, for a couple knives - a 10 inch chef's knife and a paring knife. Myself, I would recommend a $25 set of chef, boning, carving, and paring knives with block, probably including a steel for dressing the edges. Then when you find the knife frustrating, when you know what more you want, you are ready to replace the knives that don't measure up (any more). Keep in mind that stainless steel and hardened steel knives don't hold as sharp an edge as plain steel - but plain steel knives need more attention to keep the edge sharp, and they rust if not cleaned and dried right away.

I would make great use of friends and neighbors, to evaluate and learn to use alternate tools and implements (it is called, helping out).

For the minimum essential tools the best quality pays off. The Pyrex measuring cup. For other things, the best might be surprising - such as the Ekco Miracle Roll simple hand can opener I use, that has outlasted three electric and two 'fancy' hand openers. Mom's old metal measuring spoons, the simple ones with the rounded bowl still work wonderfully well for me.