Monday, April 10, 2017

Quality Goods

I learned a valuable lesson years ago to appreciate quality. Well-made products perform better, last longer and give you greater enjoyment. The problem, of course, is that most quality goods are expensive. However when you take these superior attributes into account -- especially their longer lives -- the initial outlay becomes more rational.

Naturally if you can't afford a hefty price-tag, the issue is moot. For most of my life, I've had to settle for second-tier goods. I used a Minolta camera instead of the Nikon I craved. I wore a Seiko watch instead of the Movado I wanted. Those compromises were unavoidable due to my limited middle-class income.

Now, though, I'm doing better financially due to decades of diligent effort. I can afford some luxuries. With that ability, I confront whether to splurge on items never before within my reach.

This preamble is leading up to a critical question -- whether to buy something I never considered before, a Montblanc pen.


Thirty years ago, at the beginning of my career, I made a wise choice to buy three quality pens. All made by Waterman, a decent manufacturer of writing instruments. I got two ballpoints for regular use and a fancy big rollerball exclusively for signing documents. They cost around $100-200 back then. I've enjoyed these pens daily for three decades. They were a smart choice.

I want to retire the rollerball and replace it with something new. As a change of pace. So I just visited the only pen store left on Long Island. Sadly there used to be many places to buy pens but the market has apparently evaporated. Fewer people want them. Pens are old-tech. The difficult search reminded me of my last attempt to buy a typewriter. Sales-people look confused when you ask for products like these. I am, perhaps, a dinosaur.

Anyway, back to the pen. I found a Montblanc rollerball in sparkling blue metal that looks heavenly. In person it is amazingly beautiful as it reflects light. The pen is heavy and sits comfortably in my hand. I positively love it. But...

I think you can guess what coming next... the price. The pen is awfully expensive. Much more than my Watermans. In fact, I've bought several used cars for less money. So can I justify this purchase? Should I buy it?

What do you think? If it matters what the specific price is, go here. Let me say that I can afford the pen -- although my middle-class background hollers that the purchase would be crazy. That instinct is fiercely at war with my conscious appreciation for quality. What should I do?

29 comments:

  1. Is it just because it is a pen, which we associate with disposability? Would you pay this for a piece of jewellery?
    If yes, then go for it...just don't lose it like I do with pens all the time!
    Looks absolutely gorgeous. xo Jazzy Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, JJ, for the insight. Yes, it is because the object is merely a pen that I recoil from spending a lot. But it would add a lot to my life. Your thoughts are helpful. (And, yes, guarding it against loss is a big deal!)

      Delete
    2. I wish I'd read this before you bought it, I'd have loved to give my input! I should say that I lose stationery really easily but I've not lost the Cross pen in the 11years I've owned it. I think if you have somethin special like this, you cherish it!

      Delete
  2. There is something to be said about writing with a good pen. The way the ink flows onto the paper and makes you want to continue writing. I say go for it!

    Mary
    www.marymurnane.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mary! That's what I want to hear.

      Delete
  3. If you have a passion and appreciation for it, by all means. Artifacts of bygone times are particularly intriguing to me as well. Look at it this way...it's an investment if you ever decide to part with it! But I bet you won't. Enjoyment is worth the expense. Go for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deb. You raise good points and they point toward buying it.

      Delete
  4. I am the wrong person to ask as in my hand bag there's disposable pens I have picked up in hotels when I travel. My most expensive one in an engraved Cross one I got for my University graduation.
    I would buy something like this https://api.shopstyle.com/action/apiVisitRetailer?id=505965345&pid=uid5776-36125076-90
    and go on a trip !!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Christmas of 2015 I bought a purse from a designer I love but can't afford. The purse was being sold during a 75% off sale and I got it as a gift for myself. Normally purses don't last long for me because I buy cheap ones.

    I still have the one I bought over a year ago from that designer, and it has held up SO WELL. Quality definitely wins out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Thanks for sharing your story.

      Delete
  6. For me, as far as the pen goes, that is something I know I would lose somewhere immediately, so I would never spend that kind of money on it. However, as far as other things go, like shoes, I am right there with you on quality. I have a couple of really well made shoes I bought in the 90s that I still have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. For everyone it's different what we cherish.

      Delete
  7. I think for a lot of us, when it comes to an expensive item, that may be we subconsciously wonder if we deserve it. Even if we can afford it. I say, if you can afford it, and you would enjoy it, by all means get it. Think of the pleasure you will get for years to come writing with this beautiful pen. And if you use it every day the cost per use goes down. : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right -- I have that subconscious concern. Thanks for shining a light on it.

      Delete
  8. A Montblanc pen sounds absolutely lovely! However, I confess I would be scared of losing it. I'm always losing pens :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's something you use everyday which seems to justify the splurge. Plus, it's something you personally appreciate which also makes it valuable to you. It's funny because law firms often give their clients pens...and after my divorce was over my lawyer gave me a nice pen but we both laughed because when considering the amount of $$ I had to spend at the firm, the pen seemed a sad result. Ha. Sorry just a funny pen anecdote. I think you should buy the Montblanc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the story. No client is getting my pen!

      Delete
  10. You said it yourself in your answer to Natural Medley; "it would add a lot to my life". Many things drag us down in life, why not have something that is beautiful and will lift your spirits every time you use it. I say get it and don't look back.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Go for it. My motto is, buy the best quality you can afford. And if you can't afford it, that's what credit cards are for.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My father has always had a deep love and reverence for the craftsmanship of these Montblanc pens... and he taught me how to fill the fountain pens with ink. It's a nice memory that I'll always cherish <3

    I think that it feels good to splurge on something you'll love and treat with respect. Obviously you're weighing out the pros and cons of making this kind of purchase, and I know it's not one you make lightly... but I also think that life is meant to be enjoyed and if adding one of these pens to your life would bring you enjoyment, then go for it :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think it's fine to splurge on things you use daily and will appreciate and benefit from every day. We decided to go for some good pots and pans and we are happy about them every day! Nothing burns etc., and I think this translates to good stationary as well when you use it often.

    Have a great day,
    -Kati
    Almost Stylish

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. Quality kitchenware makes a real difference in our cooking and enjoyment of the process.

      Delete
  14. I have made splurge purchases that I can afford but really are way out there... never regret it. It's seldom I do it and I always ensure I've saved up for it so it never comes out of household budget to indulge. Buy it, you deserve it, and given how happy you were with the previous expensive Pens and THREE Decades of Service from them, well... nuff said... you'll always have the option of having this New Pen buried with you my Friend and take it into the Afterlife like the Pharaohs did! *winks* Dawn... The Bohemian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the wise and fun response!

      Delete
  15. Plus.... I know it is expensive but think how many disposable pens you might have bought and binned in the time you had those other three, the idea of using one appeals to my environmentally friendly heart!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very good point that some pen-lovers cite in defense of their hobby. It's true. Disposable products generate unnecessary waste and force us to use more energy in their manufacturing.

      Delete
  16. I bought a $80 pen once and had it for a week before losing it. Never found it again lol. This pen looks amazing.

    ReplyDelete