What a Bargain!

Today’s guest post comes from Steve Grooms.

The first time I saw Crocs clogs, they were priced at about $50. I don’t often pinch pennies, but I thought, “Those are just a bit of plastic. In no time, somebody’s going to rip that design off. I can wait to buy a copy.”

That’s just what happened. A few years later I saw knock-off Croc clogs being sold in the funky general store in Cornucopia, Wisconsin near the cabin I used to own. The Croc copies sold for $10. I bought them.

I was amazed at how comfortable they were. They weigh less than a pair of sox, and they are as comfy as an old bedroom slippers. When I suffered some medical reversals, the old faux Crocs became the only footwear I owned that still fit. I calculate that I have worn those clogs 2,200 days, give or take 300 days. I got my money’s worth!

I’ve made one other buy in my life that might have been a better bargain.

Dog people often talk about “the dog of a lifetime.” The notion is that most dogs are just dogs, but now and then we find a dog so remarkable it becomes the dog of a lifetime.

Actually, I might have had four “dogs of a lifetime.” Wonderful dogs, all.

Danny carried himself with the gentle dignity of the Dalai Llama. Spook was the most honorable dog I’ve met or even heard of. Katie was similarly fastidious in conduct, plus she was the most loving dog I’ve known.

And yet Brandy was special, even when viewed in the context of such amazing dogs.

She and I were soul mates. We brought a foolish, prodigious style to the sport we loved. Some of our hunts took on epic qualities that only another dog hunter could appreciate. I filled two books with lessons she taught me about pheasants, and many good stories remain to be told.

Brandy was a bargain. She lived over fourteen years. Every day of her life she gave me unqualified love, loyalty and passionate partnership. I paid something less than a penny a day for that, which maybe makes her the bargain of a lifetime.

Have you ever bought something that turned out to be both a treasured possession and a great bargain?

81 thoughts on “What a Bargain!”

  1. What a lovely picture to go with this post.

    The $100 I spent for the workhorse of a sewing machine that has been a significant part of keeping a roof over our heads was a good deal 10 years ago.

    All of my cats have been good investments.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you feed them? Do they have their shots and exams up to date?

        And when it is time for them to move on, you find out just how much you have invested in them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice Steve. Since I knew Katie it’s hard to imagine a sweeter dog, but I’ll take your word for it!

    Beloved AND a bargain — I’ll have to think on itl


  3. beloved and a bargain?
    thanks for getting me focused vs. i saw a bargain and was thinking computers. what a deal for 500 bucs or 300 bucks or whatever. lifechanging.
    smartphones are the next frontier. its a computer in your pocket or on your wrist. wow.
    but beloved…..my kids come to mind. i did get a deal on them. the doctor bill was paid by insurance and i got this little kid out of the deal feed em and dress em and teach them tricks and they get bigger and turn out to be both beloved and a bargain. kind of an expensive bargain if you think about it too much but a good investment.
    that and my thermos. for 20 dollars i get a beloved way to carry around my tea in a stainless steel fashion statement that is as much a part of me as my leg. oh i do love my thermos.
    and my birkys.
    hey i am a lucky man
    dogs of course
    how about blogmates? cheap but beloved. that may sum it up pretty well.
    if i had to pay for the trail i would but dale is priced just right and the baboons that come along as part of the deal make it priceless and beloved.
    yeah thats the ticket.
    my birkys and my dogs and my kids and the trail and my phone….. and this ashtray, and this ping pong paddle. and thats all i need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had the same thought on the value of blogmates. It feels to me like we had all slipped into a bit of complacency about the Trail, and then we got shocked out of it. I feel a new sense of urgency to make this keep working.

      Hang on to the Birkenstocks. I no longer have my Earth Shoes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Right now I am sorting through old belongings, mostly unused art things, and tossing stuff I don’t use. Any artist will tell you they collect all this stuff, thinking “I could make something outa this….” Very dangerous. But I am also working with an antique store today to sell the residual stuff of my mother’s household. That is a bit painful.

    In doing all this I came upon my hippy jeans. You know the ones. Circa 1971, hiphuggers, button fly, patched rear end (heart shape), bellbottoms. In 1971 they might have cost $5 When all the other jeans went to the thrift store, these stayed in the cedar chest. With the poncho and the wire rims. About once every 5 years I get them out and look at them. Once, when still skinny, I wore them for Halloween.

    I just cannot throw them in the discard pile. Too beloved, I guess.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Don’t throw them away! They’re probably already collector’s items; if you save them a while longer you’ll be able to donate them to a museum or textile/costume collection. Seriously!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. CG — I have a couple vintage dresses in about a size 10-12 that I will never fit into again, but I don’t want to just donate to Good Will. They’re in good shape, are beautiful desiigns from circa 1940’s, but have stains. Would like to see if a costume shop or something along those lines could use them. Would those sell on EBay?


      1. Cathy Wurzer’s father passed away not too long ago. He had been suffering from dementia for the last several years. She had a hard time parting with his clothes, but found a way of recycling them. She had them made into rag rugs.


  5. The bargain of my lifetime has to be my much-loved 1995 Honda Civic DX. She’s rusty and a little beat up, but still going strong! I’m probably still getting better gas mileage than 80% of my fellow drivers on any given day, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. By far the best bargain I ever made was a few years of quality therapy. I had to take out a home equity line to do it and I’m still of questionable mental health, but I can’t imagine the shape I’d be in had I not made this life-saving investment!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Renee, I didn’t get a chance to post, but I really enjoyed your guest blog about your Celebrity Roses. When I saw the name Grover in first paragraph, my mind jumped to Grover on Sesame Street for some reason. A beloved character for me …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am generally too impatient of a shopper to be a bargain hunter. I don’t shop very often, and I get what I need when I need it. I think the Sound LInk I bought that lets me stream public radio from my cell phone while I am at work is probably the best deal I have had for a long time. We aren’t allowed to live stream off our work computers, and the sound link lets me listen to good music while I am at work.

    I am always amazed how much less things cost in Minneapolis and Denver compared to where I live. No real bargains on the things I like here in ND,


  8. First of all, I’m not a fashion freak or shoe collector; but I do love a good comfortable pair of shoes that look sweet. I have big feet that require a wide width with really good arch support, so really nice shoes that cost less than $80 is a bargain to me — I just can’t wear cheap shoes. I found some Lands End sandals a year or two ago that were quite nice on clearance for $14 — so of course I bought 2 pair. I still love them and wear them and … they look really sweet on!

    And yeah, Tim — you nailed it! I always loved that scene from The Jerk.


    1. I think I understand, Clyde. You don’t waste much time thinking of bargains, and the circumstances of your life suggest your priorities are appropriate. I was reluctant to write a guest blog about thrift. There are so many other more important issues. And yet I am so eager to see this blog succeed, I decided to run with a less-than-crucial topic. I don’t want this discussion to end.


      1. It is an excellent post. You are a fine writer. Fine. You have the gift of grace, by which I mean you make it look simple.

        BUT, and I mean this BUT: never accuse me of thrift. Mt mother is rolling over in her grave, or her ashes are stirring in the box.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a third post to Dale. Have a fourth one mostly ready. Have four others in my head, or topics. I am trying to find a new voice for this.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The dog in the picture is an English Springer Spaniel. A breed rather known for being extremely intelligent and personable. I can certainly attest to this as we had one while I was growing up. Rockford will always be my little brother to me.

    There seems to be a generally good consensus that I do well in buying certain artworks and antiques. I’m told that I have a good eye and that my fiscal restraint generally stays intact (i.e. I buy nice stuff and I get it for a good deal). My rule is generally to buy what I like but, usually at the back of my mind, is the thought that if I had to sell something, could I make my money back or a little more? It takes quite a bit of research and legwork to find those ‘gems in the sand.’ But I actually really enjoy doing it. Another thing I should probably be doing for a living but I’m not…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Screen Porch – because we already had a lot of the lumber we needed (from the old garage we had to replace), and though we paid our contractor neighbor, there were several volunteers who helped.

    I was going to say our house, but then I remembered to add in all the extra costs, like said garage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the arts of living well is knowing how to distribute scarce resources (like money and time) so they go where they will produce the most return in terms of happiness. Your investment in the screened porch was brilliant.


  11. I have a bomber-style jacket that came from a garage sale that I’ve worn to death. I think it cost two or three dollars and has been a good winter jacket, very warm. I’ve always gotten a lot of compliments on it because of its worn, wabi-sabi look. One of the sleeves has started to go to pieces now, and I have to figure out a way to fix it.

    My sewing machine was $30, IIRC, and I’ve had it for over 35 years now. I don’t find time to sew much anymore, but during my apartment-dweller-era when I was moving every few years, it furnished curtains and throw pillows and comforters and the like whenever I was redecorating. These days is seems to be more cost effective to buy those things ready made.

    Pets as bargains; I have mixed feelings. They’d cost little if it were possible to just discard one and replace it with another when it got old.


    1. One reason I included Brandy in a blog about “bargains” was an experience I had when she was just a puppy. Against my better judgment, I entered her in a contest. She’d never heard a shotgun or retrieved a bird in her short life. Worse, she was “trained” by an idiot, me. In spite of that she won second place in the tournament. A man who bred and sold springer spaniels asked me, “What did you pay for her?” I was beaming with pride like I’d never felt. I told the guy I bought Brandy for $45. “You paid too much,” he said.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I remember at around age 6, we had a large St. Bernard named Bo Bo that my parents wanted to enter into a dog show. Mom sewed elaborate Alpine costumes for me and my brother and hung a keg on Bo Bo’s neck. We were sure we’d win because of the cool outfits and the biggest dog.

        All he won was “Dog with the Longest Tail”.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Ah, you remind me of my sewing machine – the stand is an old Singer treadle that I got for $10 antique place in Marshalltown, IA. I eventually removed the machine and have a “school grade” Singer that I bought in the 80s for $100 or so, but it’s still a bargain for how much I’ve saved by mending clothes, and making some of the things Linda mentioned…


  13. My old trunk is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve written about it before, so I’ll not bore you with the details again.

    With few exceptions, I tend to forget what I pay for things. Whenever I would come home and show my dad something I had bought, and asked him if he thought I’d had gotten a good deal he’d reply: “It’s a bargain if it’s worth more than you’ve paid.” But he’d also say: “A bargain is only a bargain if both the seller and the buyer got something out of the deal.” That has pretty much been my attitude all my life, so I’m not a good haggler.

    This morning at the Signal Hills farmer’s market I got locally grown, fresh organic strawberries for $5.00 for a quart. A bargain, in my book, but I’m sure they won’t last long enough to become a treasure.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Son started out as a bargain, since he was born in Canada and we didn’t have to pay a penny for him. He has cost us a bit since then, though. Darn kids!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kids are, indeed, a long term investment. If you look at the returns quarter to quarter, you’d dump ’em in a heartbeat after certain periods as the quarterly ROI is pretty slim. If you look over the long term yield, however, the returns are huge (which I first typed as “hugs,” which is also true).

        Liked by 2 people

  15. When I was in college, my mother’s Mixmaster finally gave up the ghost. My dad sent me out with the instructions “get the best mixer there is”. Knowing nothing at all about this kind of thing (my cooking and baking days were still ahead of me), I came home with an extremely expensive Kitchenaid stand mixer. My mother hated it – after I went back to school, the mixer went into the attic. My middle sister and I discovered this about a year later and she scooped it up, arguing that she had a house while I only had an apartment. But she didn’t like it either – back into my mom’s attic it went. Another year and it comes up in conversation – this time my baby sister wants it. She actually shed tears so I quit arguing. Again, back into the attic (my sisters were well trained by my mother to love the action of the Mixmaster I guess). Yet another year and my mom is cleaning out the attic and calls me “If you don’t want this mixer, I’m going to toss it”. I paid the shipping to get it to Minnesota (about $15 back then). Fast forward 30+ years and it is still sitting on my kitchen counter and is my most “beloved” kitchen toy.

    Liked by 8 people

  16. I was on the church auction committee one year and as we were cleaning up at the end of the evening, there were a few things that had received no bids. One was a painting of green onions on a cornflower blue background. It is beautifully composed and I remembered seeing it in the donor’s house. I asked the committee if I could have it for the starting bid (even though bids were closed). They were happy not to have to deal with it.
    The price was $50 (grossly underpriced, I believe). It has adorned my dining room wall ever since and has received MANY compliments. Plus, I get to think of the donor (a friend of mine) whenever I look at it.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Where’d everybody go? It’s really really quiet here in my cube this afternoon (Summer of Love – half my company is off) – and now it’s quiet on the Trail as well!


    1. And the core of our share faith meets the description, despite how people try to make it rare and or expensive. M. C. Carpenter has a line in a song about modern evangelists: “Forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt.”

      Liked by 4 people

  18. Once again I am late to the party…being a dog owner I totally agree about the dog-of-a-lifetime sentiment. My current hound, Barney, is a great dog and a good companion. He is goofy and mostly blind and Daughter loves him to pieces. He is not, however, my dog of a lifetime. That honor resides with the Dear Departed Norma – a basset hound I adopted from the humane society for a mere $75. They had a special event at the downtown Dayton’s auditorium right before Valentine’s Day and i went knowing I loved my aunt’s basset, but was sure I would not find such a dear hound at a humane society event. But there she was – butt towards the kennel door, gazing out wistfully over her shoulder. When she came out of the kennel, she corked her head between my legs and that was that. She was mine. She saw me through boyfriends and breakups, three moves, buying a duplex, getting married and pregnancy. She ate frogs and chocolate and birthday candles (all out of curiosity and not more than once) and she helped me paint sets (not always on purpose, though I did leave her footprints on two set floors for fun). She lived up until Daughter was about six months old – keeping guard while I nursed (even though she could barely see or hear). I cried and cried when I finally admitted that her arthritis was horrid and the kind thing was to let her go – she had her head in my lap when the vet gave her “the shot.” She was a good dog. Makes me a little weepy now thinking of her. I still miss her.

    I’m thinking my mother’s investment in our little piano will be a good long term investment. We’ve only had it a few months and it is already showing to be worth every penny (and the hassle of getting it moved). I don’t know that Miss S will become a concert pianist, but I can see how music is enriching her world and who she is and that is priceless.

    Liked by 6 people

  19. I would say that the fruit plants in my yard are a beloved bargain. I bought a few raspberry plants and they’ve given me years of delight, not to mention probably hundreds of dollars worth of berries. I bought one black currant bush and now I have three plants and man oh man the stuff I make from those black fruits are – to use an overused cliche – to-die-for. The red currant and gooseberry bushes are a pleasant addition, but not quite as beloved as the raspberries and black currants. The rhubarb I got for free from my sister, and she got hers from my mom, and my mom got hers from White Sky’s daughter. So we’re talking a bargain that goes back a generation. Rhubarb is pretty darn good, and if you mix it with black currants – wow, just wow. (Words fail me.) Right now I’m making a rhubarb-black currant sauce, lightly sweetened and with vanilla and cassis added. This will form the basis for a dessert, sort of like a fruit tiramasu – dip ladyfingers in some of the juice from the fruit sauce, beat together some mascarpone and yogurt, lightly sweetened and with vanilla and cassis. Then layer the dipped ladyfingers, fruit sauce, and mascarpone mixture, then chill before devouring the entire pan by yourself (kidding. sort of.) This is an exciting Friday night activity for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have rhubarb. I have a package of ladyfingers. the black currants are just starting to turn. This sounds marvelous.

      I presented the s&h with the first 4 ripe raspberries of the season today and he was duly grateful.

      My weekend dessert agenda is something called a blue goose pie made with blueberries and gooseberries. The gooseberries are ready and there are blueberries in the freezer. I’ll let you know….

      Agreed, the fruit plants have been a good bargain, although my stewardship thereof has been less than stellar.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I have been lurking on the Trail Baboon blog for several years after joining and being active on the original Trial Balloon. Still working I ran out of time to keep up, but am retired now and today’s topic and comments have prompted me to check back in…Earth Shoes and black currents did the job! Bought Birkies in the 1970s in San Francisco and still wearing them. The Earth Shoes….bought in New York City in the 70s, now in the basement in a box somewhere. But. Black Currants and rhubarb with cassis….what a delightful idea! First I must get a black currant bush….got the cassis and lots of rhubarb! Thank you, HVS and LJB!

      Liked by 1 person

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