When I was a little girl, my favorite shoes were made by Buster Brown. They were navy blue canvas shoes with a large rubber toe, and I wore them all of the time. What my mom loved about these shoes is that they came with a lifetime guarantee. If you wore out your Buster Browns before you outgrew them, they would replace them for free. And thanks to my penchant for using the toes of my Buster Browns as a braking mechanism for my Big Wheel, I got a lot of free shoes.
While I may have figured out a nifty way to wreck a pair of quality shoes, they were still made well enough to last (at least for most kids). I find that it’s rare these days to purchase much of anything that lasts. And forget about a lifetime guarantee! So much of what we buy is cheap, of poor quality, and practically meant to be thrown away after a few uses. And that can add up to a lot of waste and a lot of accumulated clutter!
Thankfully, Tara Button recognizes this and created the website Buy Me Once—the place to purchase and “love things that last.” They pretty much had me at the cover art that features a Le Creuset cast iron pot. If I had to pick one household item I would snag in a fire (other than my family and cats) it would likely be my red pot that sits on my stove. Tara recognized that people were repeatedly buying things that didn’t last. So she started to compile a list of quality items that stand the test of time. These items aren’t the bargains you may be looking for! But if you add up your cost over a lifetime of replacing one piece of junk with another, I feel certain this site will save you money. Not to mention keeping junk out of the landfill.
Included on the site are categories such as kitchenware, toys, furniture, beauty, clothes and, yes, even shoes! It’s not yet comprehensive enough to provide you with everything you need in life, but I will say, if you’re in the market for cookware, or a coat, or a pair of socks that will last forever, it’s worth a look.
Purchasing quality items fits in well with my “less is more” organizational philosophy. Having fewer, but better, items around you makes it easier for you to get and stay organized. Consider purchasing one really great Dutch oven for your kitchen rather than having a cabinet full of cheap, warped pots with broken lids. If you’re in the market for a new piece of furniture, look for a quality, made-in-the-USA piece crafted with real wood rather than the cheap, flat pack, press board stuff that will never stand up to a move. And start your kids early with toys that are made from quality materials and can be passed down to relatives or friends rather than stocking the toy box with plastic junk that breaks after one play date.
The lure of cheap is powerful. I’m guilty of falling prey to it from time to time. But if you want to live with less but live with better, look for opportunities to choose quality over quantity. Here are a few of my other favorite go-to spots for surrounding yourself with stuff that lasts:
Denim Therapy: They can save your favorite pair of jeans! Simply ship off your torn denim, and they’ll send it back to you repaired and good as new.
The Minimalists: Numerous blog posts, pod casts and resources for helping you live with less. They have a movie coming out this year, too!
Patagonia: This company celebrates the fact that their products last forever on their WornWear blog.
Southern Season: If I need something for my kitchen, I typically head here first. I know that the items they carry will be quality items that will last the rest of my cooking years. I avoid “uni-taskers” (things that only do one thing) and look for quality multi-tasking tools that make the price worthwhile.
Vert & Vogue: I’m not a fan of clothes shopping and truly avoid it as much as possible. But if it’s quality I’m looking for, this is my go-to spot in Durham. For the record, they do not carry Buster Brown shoes.
Look for ways to choose quality over quantity and surround yourself with things that you love and that last. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: less really is more.