Your things that last
If you’ve been following Buy Me Once closely, you’ll know that this last little while has been a period of change. We have been working with our customers to try and better understand and communicate the power of long-lasting products.
One of the things we did was to put together a survey. We asked directly: what are the products you love the most? We wanted to know how long your things had lasted, why you thought they lasted so long, and what those products meant to you.
The stories we received blew us away. They have helped to redefine what Buy Me Once is about, and inspired each member of our team. When we created an animation last year, the animator used the stories for inspiration. When researching products, we have had your words echoing in our ears.
Before we delve into some of your stories, we’d like to share some statistics:
The oldest product was 80 years old.
Not surprisingly to us, it was a cast iron frying pan. Cassandra said it was a family heirloom from her grandmother that had been looked after and seasoned with care. She reckons she uses it around 15 times a week, even now. Over 80 years, that works out to over 60,000 uses. That’s a lot of meals, and a lot of memories.
You’ve kept these things for a really long time.
Across the 230 responses, the average amount of time you had your product was 21 years, spanning between 1 and 80 years.
And you use them almost every day.
Whether it be your daily coffee or a piece of jewellery you wear everyday, these things are embedded in your routines. The average across all responses was 5.6 uses per week.
The variety was astounding.
We coded our responses with 22 different categories, from things like gardening, to furniture, jewellery and even stationery. Whilst many of you related to functional items, often it was a small gift, or travelling memento that became a special family treasure.
But kitchenware came out on top.
Most of you picked your thing that lasted from the kitchen. This was 91 respondents - about 40% of you. They varied from frying pans and knives to coffee makers or even Kitchen Aid mixers. The average number of years you had kept your kitchen things was 23 years, and you used them an average of seven times per week.
Here are a selection of your responses. Every couple of days we’ll be sharing a different story highlight at the top of our homepage.
Ann from London loves her parents' paring knife.
We loved hearing about the story behind this paring knife from Ann. She told us about its classic design, with its simple, tactile wooden handle. When her parents emigrated from Canada they brought boxes and boxes of things from their first home. Many of those things are still in the family today and in regular use. This humble knife is one. With all that history, she could never imagine replacing it.
Ann admits that she actually used to tease her parents for keeping, reusing, and repurposing everything. Now she realises they had it right all along. Waste, over-consumption, and treating everything as disposable is not only unsustainable, it robs us of the joys of appreciating the things that serve us everyday.
Simon from Norwich loves making porridge.
So much so, he told us he has been using the same saucepan for his morning porridge since 1979. It’s clearly a quality product, manufactured by the long passed Polaris (remember them?). He pointed out that the handle would be the only place on the pan where it could break, but his story is one of care. It’s been exclusively hand washed for those 40 years, and the handle is still in fine fettle.
Karina from Fernwood loves her Fjallraven backpack.
In its four years, this backpack has been everywhere with Karina. She had it the first time she met her boyfriend - and she had it when they went on trips to Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and all over the UK. It has been used as hand luggage and a carryall for work. She was wearing it when her boyfriend proposed to her in Iceland in Geyser Valley, and planned to use it as a hospital bag for upcoming labour and even as a nappy bag. Even as this backpack's use changes throughout her life, Karina plans to be inseparable from it.
Carolyne from Montreal loves making orange juice.
Another product that has been around for generations, this juice maker is 60 years old, and first belonged to Carolyne's grandmother. Carolyne never saw her grandmother in the kitchen unless she was making herself orange juice. Today, it’s her grownup kids that use it.
Catherine from Alaska loves her KitchenAid mixer
Catherine lives in Alaska, several thousand miles from her home in Minnesota. On a rare visit, her mother wanted to purchase a bread machine for her. Catherine suggested a KitchenAid mixer instead as it would be more generally useful. They’re expensive things - at the time, Catherine would not have been to afford one on her own. But together they went to pick one out. That was 22 years ago. Catherine was pregnant with her third and last child.
Jump to the present day, and the mixer looks and acts exactly as it did when she brought it home. It has been a constant presence in her family life. Over the years she’s made plenty of bread, but also cinnamon rolls, cookies, and gift-bakes galore. Whenever her family of five were treated to hamburgers for dinner, she used the mixer to make milkshakes. A tradition formed. Once, when she broke her arm at Christmas, she talked her son through the cinnamon roll-baking process. She’s pretty sure his rolls were better than hers!
Through the years as she spoke with her mother on the phone, she’d thank her time and again, and let her know which recipes of hers she had made with it now. The frequent thank yous would become a tender joke between them. But it was always meant sincerely. It is a gift that she had with her always, and a constant reminder of her mother’s generous spirit.
Mark from Scarborough loves making his daily coffee with his French press.
It’s double-walled stainless steel, it’s tough, and it can support being knocked about. Nine years into its service, it’s even been up a mountain, joining Mark on his 50th birthday camping celebration, and fuelling him before the hike up the great Katahdin.
Sally loves her floral raincoat
She tells us that every single time she wears it, she gets a compliment - especially from people under the age of 30. She tells them that it’s vintage, but the truth is that she bought it as new - 30 years ago. Made from quality materials, she’s never had to even sew on a button.
Gonda loves her Grandma’s coffee maker.
She can still picture her grandmother using it in the kitchen. Her 70s style curtains in orange, yellow and brown, the comforting smell of freshly ground coffee wafting through the apartment. She knows that her Grandmother would be so pleased to know it is still used and loved by her family today - and that it will be passed onto the next generation to enjoy too!