I had a recent conversation with a friend of mine. We discussed retail purchases and I confessed that I bought a volume of wool socks from LL Bean in a single order.
He was shocked. He thought it went against my philosophy of thrift. I explained: first, when I buy ten pairs of socks from LL Bean, I’m purchasing for the next 18 months to 2 years, at least. I’m going to wear the socks every day, walking the streets of Paris, often in the rain and cold. So the purchase is not a luxury. The socks are thick. They are wool. They are LL Bean. They last.
Furthermore, by buying a lot of them, and wearing them in rotation, I wear them out more slowly. They last longer, and I get more use for my money.
Finally, I’ve lived long enough to have had the experience of having found the perfect product, only to have the manufacturer or retailer stop making it, stop selling it, or change it and make it less perfect. (This is sometimes marketed as ‘new and improved’. It is always one, but rarely the other.) If I have a stock of the original good stuff in my drawer or closet, I can weather this disappointment in comfort for a period of time. I don’t think LL Bean is going to change their wool socks, but one never knows. I am prepared for any eventuality.
So when you find the right product and get the chance, stock up. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
21 thoughts on “Why I Buy 10 Pairs of Socks at One Time”
Goodness! We enjoyed this post so much!
My husband and I often notice how we finally find a great product (socks, pants, etc.)…. BUT THEN, some ‘improvement’ comes along (usually couched in some vague tech term like ‘wicking’) that really means lower quality, increased production, and higher profit margins. We set out again to find “the right sock…”
Mr. Tully, it’s so interesting that you chose LL Bean as an example. We did, just this summer: The Great Polo Shirt Contest of 2018. We ordered one top of the line polo shirt (women’s and men’s) from every company known to produce good polo shirts. Some companies were considered ‘high fashion’ and ‘luxury brand names’ and some were considered ‘mall store’ types. It wasn’t even close. The winner in all aspects of quality (irregardless of price) BY FAR, was LL Bean. This is still true after heavy use 4 months later. The pricing for the much higher quality item at LL Bean also can’t be beat (compared to, say, the most expensive, most “high-tech” polo at Ralph Lauren, which fared worst in terms of durability, FYI).
As a women, I’ve found myself relying increasingly on the expertise of small boutique owners to find quality durable clothes. I’ve all but given up on brands and national stores. LL Bean is an exception (I can list the exceptions on one hand). There are people in the fashion industry who search everywhere for quality clothes that fit (or can be altered to fit perfectly), that feel like a dream to wear, that LAST, that are made sustainably, and that support people who believe in these things.
It IS a great idea to stock up – and being frugal is exactly the life skill that allows one TO stock up when one finds a gem. Looks like I’ll be buying some polo shirts – they’re probably on sale now! Many thanks for your wonderful thoughts!
Thanks, Rachel. And good for you with the LL Bean! – BGT
I do the same. Most recently, when Brooks Brothers decided to revamp their ocbd shirts to the current version, they had same practically giveaway sales on the previous generation (which I like better than the new ones. I bought multiples on sale.
When I find something I like, I often buy multiples of it for the very reasons mentioned above. Suppliers change, the manufacturer changes designs, etc. etc.
I think the there’s a saying in the military, “Two is one, one is none.” While I’m not in the military, when I find socks, shirts, pants, or other items I use regularly (like the very inexpensive coffee filters I get from Costco for our pour over coffee making), I like to lay in a supply. :o)
Good call, Chris. I love the ‘two is one, one is none’ slogan. Great strategy for essentials. Thanks. – BGT
I should add one other recent example of laying in a supply – LL Bean has what I consider a pretty good pair of khakis (Double L Classic fit) that sells for about $45 retail. I was unhappy with a couple recent offerings from other brands and tried a pair of these. While they are treated to be non-iron, they are 100% cotton in a 8.6oz weight and really wear well. I was concerned about the non-iron treatment but these come out of the dryer with just a bit of rumple so, for me, they’re about perfect. On sale, they’re about $30-35. I now own six pairs in a couple sizes (hey, I fluctuate!).
“…So when you find the right product and get the chance, stock up. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.”
In a world filled with indifference it’s nice to know there remains the ability to understand the simple things and have an ability to rely on staples to live by for generations to come.
Well said, K Lee. Thank you. – BGT
With a couple of clicks I can have anything I want delivered right to my door any time I want it. There are also lots of stores within a few minutes of my house. I therefore see no need to stock up. I used to have a large wardrobe. Now I have just the essentials. I buy only to replace something that is worn out and I find that I am happier this way.
Retailers have gotten incredibly good at making it very easy for us to buy anything anytime, so I say “store it at the store”. They’ll be more than happy to sell it to you whenever you need it.
What you’re missing, Amy, is that all too often, the item that you liked is no longer available or has been redesigned, cheapened, etc.
That’s a risk, Chris. But some things disappear, some things don’t. Sometimes they’re replaced by something better, sometimes by something worse. Things change, opportunities come and go, there are risks, but we live in a consumer paradise where retailers and advertisers are professionals at getting you to spend your money. I’d rather keep my money invested and spend only as needed.
It is easy these days, and ‘store it at the store’ is a great motto. Thanks, Amy. – BGT
Years ago when I was a kid and we would go visit family in Chicago, my dad would always head to Marshall Fields to stock up on a certain kind of dress sock. He had big feet and had trouble finding socks he liked.
I have big feet also(thanks dad) and if I find a certain sock I like I also stock up.
I’m not a picky person but I am picky about what I wear on my feet.
I have a few other items that I stock up on.
Thanks for sharing, Kate. Yes, one can get particular about shoes and socks. – BGT
Since I expect clothes to last for years, I don’t buy in volume. A “buy three get one free” offer by a shirt tailor would be an exception. Rather than looking for deals, I look for smaller brands that offer good value because they are specialised in a specific product, produce at lower costs, and don’t spend on marketing. For instance, socks are ordered from a small factory in Southern Europe. Delivery costs included, the price is lower than for those mentioned above, and the wool percentage is higher (85%).
Good strategy, JL. Thanks, BGT
Just did something similar with Stafford undershirts for the exact same reason(s). Rather than do things piecemeal, I prefer to purchase at least a dozen new at once and relegate the older ones to dusting and shoeshining when they absolutely will not whiten up any longer.
I’m not alone! Thanks, Heinz-Ulrich. – BGT
About twenty-seven years ago I realized I will not grow any taller and the size of my feet will remain the same. I stocked up a ton of OCBDs, cotton undershirts, chinos, socks …. and around fifteen pairs of derbies, oxfords, loafers, bucks and boots. Added few pullovers and cardigans and regarding ties and bowties I can open a boutique. Few jackets and some tweed and I am set until the rest of my life. Do not care about stores or shopping malls. Ready to throw some money into art, books and good mechanics – Voutilainen, Lang und Heyne …..
Good move, OMGM. Thanks for sharing. – BGT
I’ve standardized my wardrobe on a well defined “uniform” built primarily around Brooks Brothers, Allen Edmonds, and Levis.
Good call, Maurice. Thanks. – BGT