I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

Crushing on “Buy Me Once”

The new pot on the block

The new pot on the block

French cookware company Le Creuset recently honored its lifetime guarantee when it replaced my beloved–but chipped–Dutch oven. It’s a piece of cookware I use weekly, and sometimes daily. I had gotten my money’s worth after 20+ years of service and really did not want to give it up. But the interior chips worried me.  So I took the risk, sent it off, and eagerly watched the post for the promised replacement.

At about the same time my Grommet co-founder told me about a growing “Buy It For Life” meme (on Reddit–a site that just HURTS my eyes in all kinds of ways). It’s all about products with lifetime guarantees or incredible durability. She’d also discovered a site solely organized to surface those products, Buy Me Once.  It’s a sweet story in ethical shopping and they’ve even landed on two existing Grommets we discovered a few years ago:

One World Futbol–a nearly indestructible soccer ball

Darn Tough Socks –socks from Vermont, with a lifetime guarantee!

Shirt from The White T Company, sold on Buy Me Once

Shirt from The White T-Shirt Company, sold on Buy Me Once

I was very taken with the Buy Me Once idea of a long lasting simple white T-shirt. I stock up on this exact style shirt in quantities almost annually from Gap or Uniqlo and I would be very happy to have a more enduring solution.

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I’ve got some other clothing items that I expect to wear the rest of my life, captured in this photo.  The sweater is something I bought at a garage sale when I was 14. It’s getting a bit thin and frayed, but it’s very serviceable. The boots are 25 years old and have been resoled three times. They’ve gone in and out of fashion about that many times too. The new kids on the block are the brown Fleuevog oxfords, which have all the markings of a permanent purchase.

I guess I have been part of a meme and did not even realize it. Because Reddit HURTS my eyes.

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I’m rooting for London-based Buy Me Once.  The site’s reason for being was neatly summed up by Grommet video producer, Dan Callahan: “I’ve seen myself and peers do a lot more  in the same vein of minimalism and decluttering. When I’ve decided to I want to buy something (say a blender), I do research to find the best blender (for me) rather just going to a big box store and buying the second cheapest one they have. I’d rather buy once and have it last and work well, than buy it every few years. I use sites like TheWirecutter.com and TheSweethome.com for this.” (Not to be confused with “Buy It Once”, a fairly similar site with the fatal flaw of fulfilling its orders through Amazon–a company that does not concern itself ethics like sustainability–of products or other companies.)

I’ve written a lot before (here and here) about conscious consumption and sustainability, but it is nice to see so many pick up the flag in their own unique ways. And this meme inspired our Discovery team to think about more overtly surfacing Grommets with Lifetime Warranties. These kind of commitments to quality are so central to what we do, that it never occurred to us to isolate this factor.  Stay tuned…

2 Responses to “Crushing on “Buy Me Once””

  1. Pedasi Pundit

    I just started distributing a new line of Herbal products, here in Panama, by a second generation Panamanian herbalist, Frank Gruber. Because it is something that will get used up, we don’t offer buy me once, but we do offer a 100% refund if the purchaser does not like the product for any reason, even if they have used most of the product and then decide they do not like it. However, as I write this, because it takes a long time to use the whole product, we just might start giving a “Buy Me Once” guarantee! I cannot think of or have ever seen any product that gets used on a regular basis with a “Buy Me Once” Guarantee. Thanks for sharing this idea!

    Reply
  2. Change Agent Des

    A variation on Dan Callahan’s “buy the best” theme: Over the years I’ve purchased items — often tools or rarely used kitchen items — and decided to not spend the extra money to buy the best. The item lasts for years (because it’s rarely used) but every time I used it I think, “Why didn’t i spend the little extra and get the best one — the one that I really wanted.” I usually “put up with” the crappy one because, well, it’s not broken; it’s just not what I really wanted. And it works “ok.”

    I try to remember this every time I find myself saying, “Oh, I’ll save a few bucks and buy the crappier one.”

    Reply

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