I am wearing flip-flops that I bought at Rite Aid when my daughter was two years old. Abby will be 32 in August.
Granted, these zoris didn’t get a whole lot of use during my 17 years in Alaska. But I’m still amazed how well they’ve held up. I’m also grateful: They kept my feet off the ground for three days straight when my broken toe convinced me not to put on a real shoe.
Abby has her own cheap-but-dependable anecdote, which she detailed in a blog post called “Unexpected quality.” Her favorite pair of shorts, which she’s been wearing for 11 years, cost $10. It amuses her how “some of the cheapest things turn out to be so ridiculously durable.”
Those shorts don’t owe her a thing. The flip-flops and I are square, too. But it’ll be interesting to see how much longer these items last.
When “cheap” doesn’t mean “shoddy”
As an illegitimus frugalis, I’m delighted by cheap things that last a long time. Reading her post made me think about a few other inexpensive items in my life:
- A winter coat from the clearance rack at a mid-price department store in Anchorage lasted me at least 25 years.
- I make iced tea every day in a plastic pitcher my sister passed along to me in 1980. I don’t know how long she’d been using it.
- Abby bought a couple of Ani diFranco T-shirts at a concert nearly 15 years ago. About five years ago she gave them to me. I wear each one at least once a week because I don’t own very many clothes.
- My 99-cent clock radio from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop is from the 1970s, I think, because its numbers are little cards that flip over. Wakes me up just as well as an expensive alarm clock.
Clearly, the old adage “When you buy cheap, you get cheap” doesn’t always apply.
Naturally it helps to shop at thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks. Best-case scenario: Good-quality items at low prices, such as the 100% wool sweater from Eddie Bauer that I got for a quarter at a yard sale.
Then again, those drugstore flip-flops cost practically nothing way back in 1980, and I bet my sister bought that iced-tea pitcher from Kmart or Woolworth’s.
How about you, readers: What “cheap” items in your life have showed surprising longevity? Go ahead, brag a little.