Tales of an Obsessive Shopper (let the buyers beware)

Why do I call myself an "obsessive" shopper?  Well, primarily it’s because I tend to go to unusual lengths to get the products I want or need.  Or think I need.

In this effort I see myself in a never-ending war with what I usually refer to as "the evil buyers".  So when I say "let the buyers beware", I don’t mean us, I mean them.

The first time I encountered the evil buyers was when I fell under the spell of the "galileo thermometer" (at right), around 1990.  These thermometers have little globes of colored liquid that rise and fall with the temperature.  The question being, what colors?

I bought two or three thermometers at the time (I guess that’s a different kind of obsessive), and the box label on one of them listed some lovely, light, bright colors, and the name of the producer / designer in Germany.

But I soon found that most stores and mail order houses offering these thermometers liked to offer the models with (dark) blue or black liquid.  Black?  Why would anybody want black?

The answer seems to be "because the store buyers thought it would be safe".  I did find some lovely galileo thermometers (the "Mole Hole" store in Atlanta had quite a few back then; I they’re gone now), but I in those pre-Internet days I never did find that lovely light aqua that would have looked so good in the sunlight.

Thus my battles with the buyers began.  A battle to find colorful, interesting and healthy products that the buyers have decided we don’t need, or don’t need in the region where we live.

Since then a few things have happened.  Most obviously, the Internet has come along, giving us all a chance to connect with the manufacturers of rare and wonderful things, and to find places to buy things we can’t buy locally.

Second, as the quantity of available text on products has grown exponentially, the percentage of actual information on those products has declined (how loud in decibels is that Shop Vac?  What is the response curve on those headphones?) 

And finally, I’ve become aware of the enormous amount of sodium in our prepared food, and that I could shave those extra few bits of high blood pressure that the prescriptions couldn’t quite handle, if I really, really watched the sodium content of the food I ate.

I’m all too aware of
the irony of deciding to add to the cacophony of opinions.   I’ll primarily focus on two things.

First, after hours of obsessing and searching and comparing some product, I’ll share the results.  Maybe this will save some time for somebody else.

Second, I’ll try to call some attention to overlooked products, including those that appear briefly on your store shelves only to disappear some weeks or months later, as the buyers in your region decide that sales aren’t overwhelming enough to keep that product coming to you.

If it’s easy to find, I won’t add to the din.  But when I realize I’ve been obsessing again, I’ll come here and drop a line.



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