Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Tent That Got Away: Anatomy of a Non-Purchase

Bloggers often describe purchases made, recommending items or trashing them; frugal bloggers frequently berate themselves for having been suckered into buying the item. So I've decided to write about how I resisted a purchase, since that is instructive.

Yesterday I stopped in for my first visit to a new Target. It's exciting in that it's actually within the Philadelphia city limits, not in the suburbs. Target has a decent corporate rep and people really get a kick out of Target's high-end design and low prices. I was in the neighborhood, in need of a gift, and had a little poking around time. Just the way to accumulate a lot of stuff!
I didn't find anything irresistible in the store, but a large 7-8 person 2-room tent on deep discount caught my eye. When I looked at the picture, above, I could practically see my son, his girl-friend, and all their fabulous friends camping and having a great time in this mammoth tent! Great outdoors! Great leisure time and bonding! The tent is cleverly designed - it all fits into a duffel bag. The bag weighs a ton, but still, it was only $80. What a great gift!

I took a deep breath. I didn't recall their ever going camping. I had just caught myself playing into the Buy-the-Fantasy Consuming Fallacy: that because they have a great tent, they will use it. Yes, it was inexpensive - but that's because it was manufactured in China and shipped 6000 miles. And I didn't really know if the price or brand were good, since I've never researched tents before, or what the materials were. And fortunately the 30 lb weight of it was a deterrent all by itself. I would have needed a sales-person to help me drag it to the check-out.
A few minutes later my son happened to call on my cell. I told him the story, wondering if he might possibly tell me he'd been shopping for tents and this was awesomely timed. But instead he said, "I think we have a tent."
I told him that if he wants one in the future, it's on me.
So if you want the tent, go to Target!
I was really quite proud of myself, truth be told.

What tempting, but unwise, purchases have you walked away from? Brag away!!


Bitsy said...

I recently walked away from a child's desk. With a baby-in-the-womb, I've been scouring secondhand stores for both new baby and toddler stuff. Anyhoo... this desk was in fairly decent condition. It was solid wood, but a cheap wood (pine, I think). The cost at the thrift store was $20. However... it would have taken DH hours to sand it down and repaint it, plus the chair needed fixed (and he had no idea how to fix it). In terms of time versus cost, it just wasn't worth it.

an9ie said...

Good for you! I find the "walking away" or "driving past" approach definitely works. Keep driving past that fast food joint and turning around to satisfy that craving will seem like a pain. Walking to the other end of the store, even while thinking about the purchase will make it less important.

Anonymous said...

No way! I have that tent. I paid a lot more than $80, so that is a good deal, but only if you use it. I take my kids camping 1-2 times a year, and they use it in the backyard all the time.