Thursday, May 22, 2008

BuyByBrian x Murketing



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I was just recently interviewed about my project by Ada Puiu, for Rob Walker's blog (Murketing.com). Rob writes a column called, "Consumed," for the New York Times magazine and is the author of the book Buying In, which is about the relationships between consumers and the things we buy (I was lucky enough to get a free advanced copy at Likemind last week). The books subject matter happens to strike quite a parallel with what I discuss here and I look forward to reading it while I'm traveling this weekend.

I want to welcome all of the new readers and visitors and let you know that you can start by reading about what happened and why I'm doing this by following the corresponding links.

This started out as an easy way for me to catalog my things as I re-bought them, but has evolved into an introspective look at my consumer habits and our consumer culture in general. We all have way too much stuff, and the problems we face in the future won't be solved by buying even more of it. However, it's in our nature to consume and we work hard in order to enjoy certain luxuries, but it's time that we really start to consider the lasting impact our habits have, now and in the future.

Enjoy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I got the magic stick



Make: Oxo Good Grips
Model: Soap Dispensing Dish Wand
Size: n/a
Color: Clear
Part: 1050162
MSRP: $6.99
Paid: $6.99
Made in: China

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Date purchased: 05/18/2007
n/w?: Need

Comment: I never bought proper drinking glasses when I moved into my new apartment. Instead I began collecting and reusing Pom Tea glasses and eventually glass peanut butter jars (that I can't seem to get the labels off of). The bottles that Pom Tea come in are designed to be reused as drinking glasses, but they're fairly narrow and I can never seem to get a sponge or my hand deep enough in them for a thorough cleaning. This never caused too much of a problem, as I usually just drink water out of them, but occasionally a glass of milk would leave behind a trace of dairy that I couldn't seem to reach, leaving my next few glasses of water tasting like skim milk. I had been meaning to get a bottle brush for a while now, but kept forgetting to pick one up when I was out. But now I've finally got the perfect tool for cleaning all of my jars (as well as my Klean Kanteen). I love that it's Oxo, but I hate that it's plastic. I had the option of a natural bristle and wood brush, but wasn't sure how long it would last. The Oxo wand allows me to replace just the sponge head when it's been worn out (although a portion of the sponge is plastic that screws on to the wand). So, I'm not sure which was the more responsible choice in the long run. But this seems to serve it's purpose well and should last me quite a while.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beaming with soy



Make: Soybeam
Model: 6: Lemongrass & Cedarwood
Size: 10oz
Color: Green
Part: n/a
MSRP: $44.00
Paid: $35.00
Made in: USA

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Date purchased: 05/17/2008
n/w?: Want

I think I may be more embarrassed posting this than I was about the tweezers. I don't buy candles often and I surely don't spend this much for them when I do. However, I had been considering buying one recently to freshen up my apartment and add a little accent to my otherwise bare furniture. I actually read about Soybeam candles back in February on Treehugger, but never followed through to their website. When I came across the Soybeam booth at the Chicago Green Festival, it was a beautifully designed oasis, void of the Papyrus, earthy, organic, fair trade, vegan, world-saving hippy crap that most of the other companies shouted equally loud. The thing is, Soybeam is pretty much all of these things (sans crap and Papyrus). The candles are made from soy grown in the USA (instead of crude oil like paraffin wax candles). The aromatherapy scents come from organic essential oils, and the glass comes from repurposed wine bottles (which can be used as a drinking glass after the candle has run it's course). But the Earth-loving thoughtfulness doesn't stop there. The packaging is not only well designed, it is printed with soy ink on 100% recycled, bleach free paper. The box is folded together, instead of using glue (making it completely biodegradable), and the candle seal is made with seed paper that can be planted to grow your own mini wildflower garden. I don't think I would ever buy one of these at full price (at least not for myself), but I think they would make a great gift for any candle loving hippy in your life.

Loopy purchase



Make: Klean Kanteen
Model: Stainless Loop Cap
Size: n/a
Color: Black
Part: n/a
MSRP: $5.95
Paid: $4.00
Made in: China (Responsibly)

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Date purchased: 05/17/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: When I bought my Klean Kanteen a couple months ago, the size I wanted came with a plastic sport cap. I probably could have just swapped the cap with one of the larger bottles, but it didn't seem right. The store I was at didn't carry the individual caps for sale either, so I just settled. The problem with the sports cap is that it's plastic. It's non-leaching plastic, but if I choose to drink through it, I would still absorb the plastic taste, rendering one of my main reasons for buying this bottle obsolete. You also can't squeeze steel, well I can't, so the water kind of dribbles out unless you suck on the vacuum sealed cap like a baby's bottle. Not cool. This cap is stainless steel on the inside so my water never comes in contact with the plastic and the loop allows me to clip it on my bag with a carabiner or twirl the bottle around my finger when I'm bored. I looked into ordering this online, but it retails for $6 and then I had to pay another $5 shipping, making a new lid cost almost as much as the bottle. But while I was at the Chicago Green Festival this weekend, I came across the Klean Kanteen booth and was able to pick one up for just four bucks. Win win.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Buying in for free



Title: Buying In
Author: Rob Walker
Publisher: Random House
Date Published: 2008
Printed: USA
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6391-8
List: $25.00
Paid: $0.00

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Date 05/16/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: I am always a fan of free things, especially when they are useful or something I would have bought anyway. I was recently introduced to a blog called Murketing, which is run by author and New York Times Magazine columnist Rob walker. Rob's blog serves as an introduction and on-going observation of the ideas outlined in Buying In, which comes out in June. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy at Likemind, which is a monthly gathering of strangers in different cities around the world, who meet up for coffee and conversation. I found out about Likemind through Murketing and decided to check it out. So I showed up at 8am at a coffee shop downtown and met a whole group of friendly people who met for no other reason than to have a cup of coffee and talk with other interested people. There is no agenda or schedule or mission to adhere to. Our discussions ranged from new blogs we'd found, the price of gas and where to store your bulk toilet paper from Costco when you live in a downtown condo. The diversity of age and professions kept the perspectives interesting and the conversations engaging. It was a great way to start a Friday morning and I look forward to future Likemind gatherings. However—to be honest—my initial reason for going was solely because Random House (Rob's publisher) was sponsoring this month's Likemind with free coffee and an advanced copy of the book. But you could say after attending that I've proudly bought in to Likemind.

I'm really excited about this book because it parallels this project of mine quite a bit. It focuses on consumerism and what makes us buy the things we do, and how that defines who we are. It dissects the new consumers who—like myself—consider themselves immune to marketing, but at the same time become evangelists for the brands they themselves embrace. This emerging market leads to the kind of unexpected and often unexplainable explosion in the popularity of brands ranging from Hello Kitty to Pabst Blue Ribbon (which I was a loyal consumer of in college). Read my review of this book on Amazon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What a tool



Make: Spin Doctor
Model: Essential Tool Kit
Size: 18 piece
Color: Gray
Part: 40-2451
MSRP: $79.99
Paid: $44.99
Made in: Taiwan

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Date purchased: 05/12/2008
n/w?: Need

Comment: I use to have this same tool kit and a few of the items that I always carried in my back pack actually survived zero day (pedal/15mm wrench, allen wrenches). The quality of these tools aren't the greatest, but they get the job done. Some of them better than others. However, if I bought some of these tools individually—three of them alone would cost as much as this whole set. So I opted for frugality. Between this kit and my newly purchased bike stand, I have all I need to do all of my bike repairs and maintenance myself. I think it's ideal for anyone who rides or commutes on a bike to learn minimal maintenance—like changing flat tires and cleaning /lubing their chains. Knowing how to adjust your brakes would be convenient too, but gets a little more intimidating for most people. One of the richest resources for learning about bikes and bicycle maintenance is the late Sheldon Brown's website. If you ride, or are thinking of riding—Sheldon's website has the most reliable information you will find on the web.

Taking a stand



Make: Spin Doctor
Model: Pro G3 Repair Stand
Size: n/a
Color: Black
Part: 40-2198
MSRP: $199.99
Paid: $149.99
Made in: China

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Date purchased: 05/12/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: I finally gave up trying to tune, clean, and mess with my bike while propping it up in various positions against my wall or trying to wedge it in a corner. I have enough black marks on my wall to warrant repainting before I move out. Spin Doctor is one of the house brands for Performance Bicycle, and the quality varies depending on the item. This is their higher end bike stand and it's made really well. It's an almost identical design to the Topeak Prepstand Elite, but this was cheaper and in-stock. This will definitely get a lot of use for keeping my bikes clean and in good running condition. It also folds down to the size of a large tripod and can be hidden away in my closet when it's not being used. Big plus.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nau on sale



Make: Nau
Model: Nori SS Tee
Size: Small
Color: Clay
Part: 108M825
MSRP: $65.00
Paid: $32.50
Made in: Turkey

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Date purchased: 05/3/2008
n/w?: Want




Make: Nau
Model: Introverted LS Shirt
Size: Small
Color: Mushroom
Part: 108M827
MSRP: $110.00
Paid: $55.00
Made in: Thailand

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Date purchased: 05/3/2008
n/w?: Want




Make: Nau
Model: Patrol Relaxed SS Shirt
Size: Small
Color: Mushroom
Part: 108M829
MSRP: $98.00
Paid: $49.00
Made in: Thailand

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Date purchased: 05/3/2008
n/w?: Want




Make: Nau
Model: Merino1 SS Henley
Size: Small
Color: Soot
Part: 108M527
MSRP: $85.00
Paid: $42.50
Made in: China

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Date purchased: 05/3/2008
n/w?: Want




Make: Nau
Model: Gauzian LS Shirt
Size: Small
Color: Clay
Part: 108M825
MSRP: $110.00
Paid: $55.00
Made in: Thailand

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Date purchased: 05/3/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: If you read the previous post about Nau closing shop, you know how bummed I was about the news. Today was the last day their stores would be open and everything was 50% off, so I went on a shopping spree. I am really picky about my clothes, which translates to me not buying much more than Levi's and American Apparel t-shirts. I hate being a walking billboard and most of the clothing out there fits like a potato sack or has some lame trendy print on it. When I discovered Nau last year, I loved their clothes, but couldn't afford them at the time. After moving to Chicago, I was thrilled to find out that there was a storefront here—and even better—it was walking distance from my apt. I finally had access to clothing that fit great, looked great, had no logos and were produced by an amazing company. Now I will no longer have that. So I took the opportunity to buy more clothing than I have in a long time. It was time to add more than just t-shirts to the mix anyway. So here you have it, the last Nau purchase I will ever make (with 5% going to my preferred non-profit, Kiva.org).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Goodbye for Nau



Make: Nau
Model: Succintshell Jacket
Size: Small
Color: Fresh
Part: 108M207
Serial: n/a
MSRP: $150.00
Paid: $102.99
Made in: China

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Date purchased: 05/2/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: It's been raining a lot and now that I'm riding to work again, I wanted to be prepared for all the warm spring rain that I'm sure Chicago will throw my way. If you don't remember why I love Nau, you can look at some of the things I've purchased from them in the past. I love this company and in less than one year, my loyalty to them rivals that of my loyalty for Apple (that's a pretty big deal). However, after getting this in the mail today, I went to show a co-worker their website and learned the terrible news that Nau will be closing their doors. I was in shock, devastated even. They just opened their 5th storefront 2 weeks ago in LA. When I purchased my jacket last weekend, the employees were all excited about the eco-lovin' stars who would be wearing their gear. I was just as excited with them. The company is incredible and the clothes reflect that in both quality and design. I never thought the loss of a brand would break my heart, but this did. The employees only found out last night and have less than 48 hours to close up shop. Tomorrow will be their last day open and will basically have a 50% off fire sale to clean the store out. All of their items are now limited edition collectors items, left to remind those who believed that there is a better way to do business. In the one year that Nau was open they donated over $220,ooo to non-profit partners who customers would choose to donate 5% of their purchase price to. They have also helped to build-up the infrastructure for manufacturing eco-circle and other recycled clothing products. They were on track to open a store in SF and NYC this summer, but the economic downturn and hesitance of investors at the current time has dealt them a fatal blow. It's a sad day for the clothing industry, green movement, and everyone who made a place in their heart for Nau.