Expensive shouldn't be a dirty word

Buy the best, and you’ll only cry once – Miles Redd

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“Expensive” seems to have gotten a bad rap lately. The ads on TV tell us we “deserve” low prices. That $1 and $2 are appropriate prices for everything from frozen drinks to school supplies. But we also see the dark side of rock bottom prices. Low wages, factory collapses overseas, and overflowing landfills. The value of a dollar seems to be forgotten in a world of multi-million dollar bonuses and clearance outlets. We all like the boost we get from a “good deal”, it means we are smart shoppers. But what goes into these so called good deals? Are they really good deals in the long run?

It comes down to trust, I believe. Unless you have a lot of time to do in depth research on the product you’re buying, you have to trust the retailer that:

  1. It’s as good a product as they say it is
  2. It’ll do what you think it will/want it to
  3. It comes from a responsible supplier/manufacturer
  4. It’ll last as long as you expect it to

The problem these days seems to be that we’ve lost trust in many of our retailers. We expect to get ripped off. We expect the staff not to know the difference between the $5 and the $10 model. We expect products to fail a week after the warranty runs out. We’ve turned into cynics.

If you look around, though, there are some amazing people in retail running their independent little shops with amazing merchandise. These retailers look for responsible manufacturers on your behalf. They bring in what they think you’ll want. If they listen, you can bet this is where you’ll find the “best deals”! Not because of rock-bottom prices, but because the staff know why their product is awesome. If you have a problem with a product, they’ll take care of you personally, not direct you to an overseas call center. They support local events and charities. They’re happy to find an item for you if you just ask.

So what does expensive really mean? The dictionary defines it as entailing great expense; very high-priced; costly. It’s a relative adjective; its meaning varies with the product and the person. Some factors to consider: where and how is it made? How much does the maker see of the cost? How far has it traveled to get to me? What kind of service or warranty can I expect with this product if I have problems? Will the seller help me learn how to use it? A mass produced mug that exploits workers overseas can’t be compared to a locally made piece that’s one of a kind.

We all have our own unique needs, style and budget to keep in mind. Not all of us need top of the line, and the disposable type of products have their place (ideally not in the landfill, find recyclable when possible!). On the other hand, however, it’s really hard to build a set of shelves with a kid’s tool set, and it’s really hard to prepare a meal with cheap tools. Quality (which does tend to cost more) will last you much longer, be easier to use and clean, and will produce a much better meal.

I suppose I’m preaching to the choir; chances are if you’re reading this, you already feel that quality and responsibility trump price. If you feel this way, but maybe feel like your budget just won’t allow you to buy quality goods, consider this:

I’m too broke to be cheap

– Head Housekeeper at Best Western in Kelowna

Find the shops that share your priorities and style. Support them and they’ll support you. Ask, and they’ll answer knowledgeably. Buy the product that suits your needs, and you’ll thank yourself for years.