Never buy X again!
January 3, 2013 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I was thinking about Steve Jobs buying a closet full of black turtlenecks so he didn't have to make that decision every day. I also saw some recent charts that showed purchasing trends for different age groups, and noted that once people buy good flatware they don't make an additional purchase. It occurred to me that, at my age (mid-forties) I could conceivably purchase a lifetime supply of socks. What are items that a person of average means could purchase in sufficient quantities to last them the rest of their life?

Ideally, these would be purchases where the items in question would increase the quality of one's life through having made the purchase.

Have you done this thing?--Bought a lifetime supply of your favorite pencil, or socks, or paperclips? What was your methodology for determining the amount?
posted by mecran01 to Shopping (67 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
This question is a little confusing: are we talking about goods that have a lifespan on them (like turtlenecks) or goods that do not necessarily have a lifespan (like flatware)? Also, is this assuming an infinite amount of storage space?
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Quality shoes. A good pair of dress shoes costs ~$400, and will last ~20 years with care and rotation. (You will need to have the soles replaced, and maybe have them rebuilt.) If one wanted, one could spend $2400 on six pairs of good shoes, but you could probably get by with four pairs. Two pairs of good boots would run you another 800-1000. This seems like a lot of money, but you're talking about something that you would not have to buy again in your lifetime.

Aside from that, a lot of kitchen gear should be a one time purchase, it done correctly. Cast iron, and enameled cast iron cook ware will last long past your or me if treated right.
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

We've had our casual glasses and cookware since we got married, August will be 20 years. I just purchased new glasses, didn't need to really, just was tired of the old ones. Might get hubby some copper cookware to add to what we have...
posted by pearlybob at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2013

I have a jacket from Uniqlo that is 10 years old and still going strong.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2013

A 'lifetime supply' of a one-time purchase like flatware is very different from a 'lifetime supply' of consumables like socks, pencils, or paperclips.

You could very easily go out and buy a lifetime supply of hammers, but it's difficult to buy a lifetime supply of nails.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2013 [19 favorites]

Socks wear out. They get holes, lost in the wash, and so on. Buying a life-time supply doesn't seem to be cost effective, but you can buy 20 of the same color and style and they'd probably last you for a couple of years at least. On the other hand, the pleasure of picking out different socks every day would outweigh the convenience for me. And Job's uniform always seemed like an affectation to me, not that anyone asked.

A good purse or messenger bag should last quite a while, same with shoes, but you need the discipline to use the leather conditioner, shoe trees, and so on.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:59 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have tools that belonged to my great-grandfather that are still quite useable, so: decent quality hand tools.

Shampoo and other toiletries, maybe? Since I started keeping my hair super-duper short, I use about a dime's worth of shampoo. The big bottle in the shower is going to last a long, long time at that rate of usage. Buy a few large containers at Costco or Sams and you're good to go.
posted by jquinby at 11:01 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

lifetime supply of socks

If you are planning on dying early and never having sex again, then yes. Get mugs.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:02 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Somewhere on here yesterday (the snowblower thread, maybe) someone linked to the buyitforlife subreddit, which might give you some ideas.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:03 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm your age. Three years ago I have bought a lifetime supply of menstrual cups. Which means one to last me until menopause, and one spare, in case something happens to the first one.

You basically look at how long the item is most likely to last and compare that to how long you are likely to live or need it.
There is, of course, some gambling involved. You may die tomorrow and then you won't have the chance to wear all those socks. But you won't be there to care.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:05 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't think socks are like your other examples. Flatware, for example, is something you don't need much of, and it lasts basically forever.

Socks get lost. Socks get holes. Socks get the elastic at the top all worn out so they won't stay up anymore.

My point is that they're not really a durable good, but more of a consumable one.

That said, I like to think about this sometimes, and here are some items I've thought about:

Pots and pans. My Le Creuset dutch oven is going to outlive me. I also just got a set of good pots for Christmas, and I am planning on them lasting the rest of my life. I may add a quality cast iron skillet to the mix, but I have pretty much all the cookware I'm ever going to need, at this point.

Carpets. This could change if I ever move to a really large house, but right now I have a gorgeous handloomed imported rug in every non-bathroom part of my apartment. I could see buying another under the right circumstances, but I'm pretty much set on rugs for the forseeable future. Any future purchases would be additions, rather than replacements.

I've been made aware that I stand to inherit a ridiculous amount of china. Most of my great-grandmothers and both my grand-mothers registered for china when they got married, and it's all still in the family. Clearly this is another thing you buy only once, or perhaps in my case not at all.

To sum up, I think most household things, up until the last couple decades, were made to last the life of the owner, if not to become heirlooms.
posted by Sara C. at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

We try to do this with things that we love that might get changed in the future. So, when I love a pair of underwear, I buy as many as I can and stash them away; same for my husband's favorite sneakers and socks and pants. We don't always buy a lifetime supply, but we buy a bunch and store them.

I agree with pots and pans. I'm constantly amazed at how awesome it is to cook with the expensive pots and pans we got for our wedding, and how they look brand new, even though they are 7 years old.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:09 AM on January 3, 2013

I buy nice socks in batches (I buy wool Patagonia socks 10 identical pairs at a time), but they wear out eventually, even the nice ones. I don't want to buy $10,000 worth and find out in three years that I've changed my mind about what sort of socks I like.

And generally, I find buying nice clothes as an "investment" is a bad idea. You might buy a pair of $400 shoes that could, in theory, last 20 years, but you will (or I will, at least) eventually step in wet cement or spill paint on them or some other such thing that ruins them. This is especially truw with nice shirts. It doesn't really matter if they have timeless style and will wear for decades if a year or two in they've got coffee stains down the front of them.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:10 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not exactly a lifetime supply, but buying standard 8.5x11 or A4 size multipurpose paper in bulk is a lot cheaper than buying individual 500-sheet packs. Buy two heavy boxes of 2500 pages each and it's half the price of smaller quantities.

There are many things that it would be uneconomical to purchase a lifetime supply of, because you have to consider the cost of the space used to store a large quantity of something... For example if you live in a condo that is 650 sq ft and is valued at $400,000, you certainly couldn't economically or reasonably buy a one year supply of toilet paper.

Pelican cases have real lifetime warranties. My laptop case may be the last hardshell 17" laptop size case I ever buy.

Petzl hiking/headlamps.

Logitech's high-end "gaming" mice may be the last mouse you ever buy, if you treat it well. I have seen many from 2002-2003 that have outlasted a half dozen computers and are still in use.
posted by thewalrus at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2013

Shampoo and other toiletries, maybe?

These go off, eventually.

My mom had an Economy Size bottle of Suave or some other cheap dudely shampoo in her upstairs bathroom which was left over from when my youngest brothers still lived at home, maybe 5-6 years. When I was there over the holidays I reached for it in the shower, poured some into my hand, and it immediately separated into phlegmy looking gloops.

I've also had a container of Kiss My Face shaving cream go rancid on me, because I bought too big a bottle and used it over the course of about three years.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

We try to do this with things that we love that might get changed in the future.

I finally learned this lesson after the Takeover Of Skinny Jeans. Admittedly it doesn't get you off the hook forever--some things may eventually be so out of fashion that you won't want to wear them (possibly--or maybe this doesn't ever bother you), but it means you don't have to be quite so upset when a pen explodes in your pocket or you get caught in a rainstorm in your favorite non-water-proof shoes.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:14 AM on January 3, 2013

Get mugs.

Yes. In fact, I have been known to get a little depressed when I discover that I've reached my full complement of mugs. Because there are always more cool mugs out there! You can always find a more perfect mug! And yet mugs last pretty much forever and rarely need replacing.
posted by Sara C. at 11:14 AM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

I remember buying a bathroom plunger when I was in my early 20's. The cashier said, "You're never going to need to buy another one of these." (Turned out not to be true, as I left it behind when I relocated, but I knew what she meant.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:15 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

To minimise the storage requirements, go for small expensive items - DS Razor blades
posted by Lanark at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Back in high school, I was at Michaels or Jo-Ann or somewhere like that and found a bunch of random blank greeting cards in the discount bins. Boxes of 10 notecards (with envelopes!) for a dollar each. They weren't the most awesome designs (the two I ended up grabbing were a brightly-colored plaid and a cute puppy wearing sneakers), but they were cheap and decent enough and did I mention cheap. I ended up buying ten boxes.

Years later, I still have them (many fewer at this point, obviously). They're the perfect thing for when I want to fire off a quick thank you note or get well soon or thinking about you sort of thing on something nicer than notebook paper, and without having to go to a store to actually buy a card.

One of my best $10 investments.
posted by phunniemee at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

We have made a few technology purchases that are semi-"lifetime," like an Ooma device and a lifetime subscription to TiVo an an antenna on our roof. Of course their practical lifetime will most likely be 10-15 years or so, but compared to recurring bills/costs and service decisions to be made they have improved our life greatly.

And I have done a big Sock Refresh Project twice in my grown up life, where I basically threw out all of my old socks as they started to wear down and bought all new matching socks during a big sale. So now when they come out of the dryer I am looking for two socks rather than the two socks that are evenly faded and have the same barely-visible pattern on them. That has made life easier too.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:25 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have done this several times for varying reasons. I was at an Ikea and ended up buying 100 drinking glasses of a size and weight I liked a lot. They were 59 cents each so I spent $59. It was worth it to me because I have three teenagers. They tend to break things a little more readily than I would and they do things like take a glass in the car with them to school and it will never come back. I figured at 59 cents each they were virtually disposable. I also use them when I have my softball team and their families over for a bbq. Some get lost or taken, but so what.

About 15 years ago I heard a rumour that Converse was going out of business. I am old enough that I used to wear my Chuck Taylor's as my basketball sneakers in high school. I have worn them since I was, I don't know, 10? I still wear them. There was a local mom and pop sporting goods store near my house. When I thought they were going out of business, I walked in and asked how many pairs of either black or canvas, hi or low, did they have in a size 11. I walked out of there with 17 pairs of Chuck Taylor's purchased at a volume discount. That was about 16 or 17 years ago. I still have a few pairs left.

I also purchased 7 pairs of khaki pants that I really liked when they went on sale at the RL outlet.

At one job I needed to write certain things in a green colored pen. I happen to like the Bic clear cheap pens. This was pre internet. The only ones I could find were in London. We had an office in London. I asked a clerk over there to buy me a bunch and send them over. He sent 20 boxes of 20 "cristal" Bic green pens. I still have several unopened boxes if anyone needs some.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:28 AM on January 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

I bough a bulk box of birthday greeting cards. I am pretty sure there were about 1000 and it only cost me $50. I have a drawer full of them and it has come in handy on tons of occasions (birthday obviously being the occasion). But I figured I probably only used about 20 per year and that if I lived to be at least 80 (I was 30 at the time) then I would be set for life and never have to rush to the store when I needed one. So considering 1000 rushes to the store, that is a lot of time saved.
posted by thorny at 11:31 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got a lifetime supply of 3.5'' floppy disks 10 years or so ago. There was a rebate deal where you could get a shoebox-sized box of 200 of them for about 5 bucks. It was around the point when the industry had fallen from the peak of sales but was still manufacturing them like crazy. In the rare cases when I have actually needed a floppy disk since then I've just grabbed one out of the box, and they still work. You could probably do something similar with anything else that becomes obsolete, as long as you buy them before they actually become scarce and they don't degrade over time.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2013

posted by Capt. Renault at 11:43 AM on January 3, 2013 [10 favorites]

A couple of years ago I bought somewhat expensive new dishes that I want to have for the rest of my life, but they're probably not the kind that are going to be stocked by a place like Because I want to have a working set of 8 of each piece, I bought 12, and put the spare 4 in the garage. It's cheaper and easier to buy half again as many now than it would be to replace the entire set due to one or two broken pieces that can't be replaced.
posted by HotToddy at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, I think there are two different things going on here. There's the stuff, like flatware, which can conceivably last an entire lifetime without wearing out, in this case buying any can count as a lifetime supply. The main question seems to be more along the lines of buying a lot of something that wears out, and in what cases would it make sense to do so.

The basic idea is that there is going to be some level of effort you need to spend whenever you buy replacements for this item, so if you buy extras you can save that effort when it's time to replace. The downside is that there is also a cost associated with storing the extras (and sometimes there is a shelf life independent of whether it is stored or in use). Since I live in an apartment and I just buy plain socks in a style that has been readily available in a wide variety of stores, there is not much effort needed on my part other than remembering to pick up some new socks, whereas a lifetime supply would probably fill up my closet.

On the other hand, a few years ago my favorite pen was discontinued. A lifetime supply of pens for me is not too big since pens are small and I go through them rather slowly. The cost of replacing these pens (or going through a lot of pens to try to find a new favorite) is somewhat high, so I scoured several office supply stores in the area and bought up all that I could find while they were still available.

I am also reminded of a TV show I saw years back, where the boss had his special mug, which was broken accidentally while he was out of the office. Everyone in the office scrambled trying to figure out how to replace it, eventually they looked it up and found out it was a special run of 12 and finding a replacement was impossible. Everybody nervously watched as the boss came back, noticed the broken mug, and tossed it in the trash. He opened the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a box that was big enough to hold 12 mugs and pulled out an identical replacement.
posted by ckape at 12:04 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My point is that they're not really a durable good, but more of a consumable one.

But there's the idea of locking in a large purchase of what you might call "durable consumables" -- things that wear out or break or get used up, but won't degrade if unused and stored well -- in the belief (however well-grounded) that either the quality will go down over time to remain price-competitive, or the manufacturer will change the style or process (or go out of business) or you might have trouble finding that particular item again at a later date. There's the cost of storage to consider, but the inverse is the value of having a stash of consistent design and quality.

Mugs are a good example, because a perfect mug is hard to find, and if it gets broken, nigh-on impossible to replace. Get half a dozen of them, even if you only use one at a time. Notebooks might be another example: while the Moleskine backstory is mostly bullshit, the Chatwin anecdote that provided the catalyst for their modern reimagination isn't.

Slightly more marginal might be something like perfume, which technically has a shelf-life, but seems to do okay in a cool, dark place. If you look at the Basenotes forum, you'll see the occasional yowl at the discontinuation or reformulation of a beloved scent; a few bottles might be enough to last you a lifetime.

And this doesn't apply to me personally, but I know knitters who will buy extremely large batches of yarn because they know that they'll never get a perfect match after the fact.
posted by holgate at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Apart from the furniture and flatware and silverwear and heirloom carpets and books I've inherited from my grandparents and my dad, I have also inherited a box of tiny brownish notebooks which are perfect for making lists in. I'm certain my grandfather bought a "lifetime's supply" of these in the fifties, and they lasted his entire life and will last some of mine.
I also inherited quite a few of my grandfather's socks (he bought 20 identical pairs at a time), but since they are really nice for using instead of slippers, most have holes in them now.
posted by mumimor at 12:18 PM on January 3, 2013

I know knitters who will buy extremely large batches of yarn because they know that they'll never get a perfect match after the fact.

This is usually done for one project, though, not, like, just in case it turns out you really liked that one color and they later discontinued it. So, for example, a sweater might require ten balls of yarn to complete. You don't want to run out of yarn before you finish the sweater, because, yes, yarns are dyed in lots and balls from different dye lots may not match. Which could ruin your sweater. So you make sure to buy all the yarn at the same time. However, it's not a lifetime's supply of yarn, it's this project's supply of yarn.

That said, a lot of knitters do rack up more yarn than they could ever possibly use in a lifetime of knitting, simply because... ooooh... soft... pretty...
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Boots. Buy high quality boots and they maybe won't be forever but they will go a long time. I have a pair of hiking boots which I've had for 15 years, I keep them polished, people think they are brand new. Same with a few pair of cowboy boots.

Hats. Wool hats, or a blend, buy them nice and you're set. Same with scarves.

Leather gloves. Buy them right, buy them black so stains won't show, you're good to go.

The socks thing -- yeah, maybe not forever but buy Gold Toe white socks, they wear like iron and do not lose their elasticity, I use them with boots and running shoes etc and etc. You lose one or one gets stained beyond being brought back to white? No problem -- throw it away. I think I bought a dozen pair. I also bought six pair black from them, these are slowly fading toward gray, but pretty much still okay after five years.

Wool sweaters. I hit a great sale once, and they had them in tall sizes, too, I bought three beautiful thick wool sweaters that day, 28 years ago. They will bag out but ask your sister -- that's what I did anyways -- ask your sister how to get them back in shape, she'll say wash them cold water, dry them for just long enough to get them shrunk down to the desired size, then lay them flat to finish drying.

I always was running out of rubber bands, I bought a big honkin' bag of them about fifteen years ago and never again will I run out of rubber bands, cost about ten bucks maybe.

Buy five pair of scissors -- they're a buck now at the dollar store.

Craftsman hand tools, which I wrote about here, a couple months ago.

I have a few coats that I expect will be forever, bought them long years ago, they're beautiful and well made, and they're fine.

Um, did I mention boots?
posted by dancestoblue at 12:29 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

A good wool overcoat (if one needs one)

A good pair of snowboots (ditto)

A good set of luggage.

Yes, good leather shoes but be careful. I just discovered a pair where the leather flaked off into my hands after having been in storage for a couple of years.

Good bedsheets and bed linen.
posted by infini at 12:30 PM on January 3, 2013

My grandmother has a lifetime supply of plastic wrap. Her mother bought a gigantic roll of it at the world's fair in the 1960s. My grandmother got it when her mom passed away. She is still using it, and it is a lot nicer than the stuff I buy at the grocery store.

I think part of the problem with your question is, even if you could purchase at oncw 40 years worth of a consumable like socks, do you really want to be wearing 40 year old socks? And where are you going to store them?
posted by inertia at 12:47 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

For most apparel related things, it's also important to think about issues like whether the item will still be stylish decades from now, or whether it's an item that depends heavily on where you live, climate, local culture, etc. Not to mention whether it depends on fit at all.

I think for clothing, you can probably predict a decade or two ahead, but you can't really buy for a "lifetime". For example, my feet have grown about half a size over the last decade or so. I have no idea why this is, or if it's typical. But if I had bought $2500 worth of leather dress shoes in my 20's, I would be pissed.

Or think, for example, of buying a lifetime of suits and then your workplace becomes more casual and fifteen years from now everyone is wearing chinos. Or there's a change in the economy and you find yourself in a different field.

Or what if you "invest" in that nice pair of leather gloves, and then for unforeseen reasons you end up moving to Miami?

What if some new textile developments happen, and in thirty years, X item is obsolete? I remember seeing photos of dancers in the 1950's wearing leotards with zippers. Sure, you could buy a lifetime supply of leotards. But do you want to be the only jerk still zipping up your leotard after nylon and lycra become widely available in every shop? Do you want to be the only jerk in a wool bathing costume when everyone else is in trunks and bikinis?

You'll always need flatware and socks. You might not always need an overcoat, suspenders, ties, or pants with a 32 inch waist.
posted by Sara C. at 12:51 PM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

About 5 years ago I was on a fountain pen kick and collected a bunch of bottled ink... if my writing habits don't change drastically, it will probably be enough to last me the rest of my life if they don't dry up or go bad. Not sure what to expect as far as shelf-life goes, but inks I bought 5 years ago are still just fine - I think I remember reading that most modern inks contain antifungal/antimold agents.

(This question about long-lasting things may be of interest - although it's more "Lifetime supply of hammers" than "lifetime supply of nails.")
posted by usonian at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2013

I have a gigantic roll of white paper. it won't last me a lifetime, but my last roll (which was only half a roll when I bought it) lasted at least 10 years. I use the paper for wrapping gifts, doodling on, and tracing sewing patterns.
posted by vespabelle at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nice leather briefcase, luggage and purse will last a long time if properly cared for.
posted by govtdrone at 1:01 PM on January 3, 2013

A couple of years ago I bought a carton of 100 double edge razor blades of my favorite brand for $15 plus shipping. At a ball-park rate of 1 blade per week and 70 years of shaving, a lifetime supply would be something like 70 x 52 = 3640 blades, so ~ 40 cartons for $600 - perfectly doable, and would probably fit in the storage space available in your average bathroom.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:02 PM on January 3, 2013

My parents did this. I only ate candy that was rock-hard, and when I moved out they were still vicing toothpaste out of metal tubes.

I use one type of sock in a few different colors (black, brown and gray), but replenish them now and then from the same source. Then it's possible to change brands, something I'm just about to do and which you may want as well.

I also buy enough stamps and envelopes to last a long time.
posted by springload at 1:04 PM on January 3, 2013

Thinking further... I don't often buy lifetime supplies. But I do buy good bargains when I find them, if they are duplicates of things I already own and love.
I have a perfectly fine motorcycle helmet and good boots, and even though these may last me for some more years, I have replacements lined up for both items. Because I stumbled upon good deals and already knew I'd want to use them some day.

If you can spare the storage space, and know that the items will hold up and your size won't change, it's thrifty.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2013

I have a lifetime supply of shot glasses in my basement, because I bought a case of 144 from a bartending supply wholesaler. I anticipate never running out of shot glasses again.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

As someone who has moved across extremes of climate (Arctic circle to Equator and back for eg) I'd just like to add that I've never regretted buying good quality thermal underwear whenever I've found some I liked. The world is becoming more mobile each day and people travel for all kinds of reasons.
posted by infini at 1:07 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just came in to say that a "a lifetime subscription to TiVo", as mentioned the lifetime of the device, not the owner....
posted by HuronBob at 1:13 PM on January 3, 2013

I will occasionally buy backups of clothing I really like - never a lifetime supply, usually just one extra. The snag is that I can't tell whether something's worth stocking up on until after I've worn it a few times. By the time I know I'll be wearing a garment for years to come, it's often no longer available. (This is especially a problem if you're a bargain hunter; I usually buy clothes on markdown, which often means they're being discontinued.) There have also been times when I have found the same thing, but the replacement is just not the same: when my favorite pair of (discontinued) shoes wore out, I was lucky enough to find a new pair in the same style, but the straps on the new pair come undone all the time, which was never a problem with the old pair.

I think for this to work with clothes, or anything else where comfort, fashion, or aesthetics come into play, you have to either love something enough to want to wear/use it for the next decade, or be totally indifferent. Either way, it's a level of commitment most people aren't used to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I make it a point to try to buy/have stuff that will last me the rest of my life, and maybe that of my children and more. For reference, I'm 63. A few examples:
--I'm living on oriental carpets my parents bought in the 1950s. They're still fine and will last another 50 years at the present rate.
--I have a sweater my grandmother knitted me in 1963. I don't wear it that often any more but it should last for the duration.
--I'm done buying incandescents and CFLs. Every lightbulb I now buy is an LED which will no doubt last until I'm gone, even if I leave it on 24/7.
--Stationery. Somehow, we have a closet full of it, and only use it to write condolence notes now and then. Won't run out.
--Knives, flatware, cookware, etc. We're good. I can't find anything I want anymore when I go into a kitchen store.
--China. We're at the point where our plain white everyday china is getting pretty chipped and scratched. Rather than replacing, we decided to just start carefully using the "good" China, inherited from my wife's family with pieces ranging from 10 to 100 years old, an open-stock pattern made continuously since 1790. There's 12 of everything and just 2 of us, so it ought to last. We're going to enjoy it rather than keep in the closet.

I've been thinking about this kind of thing while reading Charles Eisenstein's Sacred Economics, by the way. Worth consulting on the topic of durable durable goods.
posted by beagle at 1:37 PM on January 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've done this. Its practically impossible to find standard Trac II razor blades WITHOUT the lube strip. When I found a bulk military surplus lot on ebay, I bought. Its not quite a lifetime supply, but maybe in 20 years I won't care anymore.
posted by blaneyphoto at 1:51 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

After seeing widows 8 I am seriously considering a couple of XP pro discs. I'm old so too many would be a waste. LOL
posted by notreally at 2:02 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

In 2004 I purchased a small, new, Boston Whaler boat. This boat will last me, and hold up well, until I'm too old to even consider boating/fishing. The same is probably true of the Harley I bought in 2006.

Sometimes it isn't about the quantity, but the quality.
posted by HuronBob at 2:15 PM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Wrangler jeans. Affordable, and long-lasting.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on January 3, 2013

Also, as a man who only uses them for the purpose that the box specifically tells you not to do, it certainly feels like I own a lifetime supply of Q-tips. Mostly this is because I needed to buy some when traveling a few times, and getting the big several-hundred count boxes were actually cheaper in absolute terms than buying a small travel pack.
posted by ckape at 2:46 PM on January 3, 2013

I have a lifetime supply of only a few things:

1. Sel Gris. I bought 20kg of sea salt when I was driving through France, 6 years ago. I've used maybe 2kg so far, so I think I'm good for life.

2. Sneakers. I have a few absolute favourite styles of Nike sneaker. When there's a colorway that particularly appeals, I often buy two pairs. I've lost count, but with >100 pairs, I'm confident I'll never run out.

3. Pets. We have a Horsfield tortoise/turtle, who I'm pretty sure will outlive me. We also have an aquarium stocked with a colony of platys, who have been happily breeding and self-replenishing since I first had a tank 12 years ago.

4. Strangely, I also own a gross of shot glasses, bought for a party.
posted by roofus at 3:29 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Related: If your child starts to have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, go buy several "backups" in case they get lost or worn out. My daughter was in an absolute freak about losing froggy dude once. It took me hours to locate a store that carried it and a 2 hour drive each way (pre internet and could not wait the two days for shipping). She is in college now, and when we dropped her off, I secretly left the backup (and in mint condition) animals we had stashed in the closet.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: In retrospect, I guess I could have just asked, "Please help me justify obscene amounts of hoarding." Nevertheless these are great answers and stories.
posted by mecran01 at 5:13 PM on January 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

I did this today when my favorite yoga pants went on sale, just bought all of them

My husband did this when they stopped producing the 'zebra pen'
posted by ibakecake at 5:56 PM on January 3, 2013

Um, about those wool scarves -- I got my best one out today, so soft, luxurious, really a pleasure to own. Tthe moths apparently thought it was pretty luxurious, too, it's full of holes -- I left it at the bus stop. The sweaters I had in the drawer with the cedar, that scarf I did not. Damnit.

Or what if you "invest" in that nice pair of leather gloves, and then for unforeseen reasons you end up moving to Miami?
I live in Austin and I wore them today, temperature in the 40s, down to the 30s tonight.** I lived in Clearwater FLA before and it surely has gotten cold enough for gloves. Try riding a bike here tonight without gloves, you'll be unhappy about it. Voice of experience.
**(Having escaped the Chicago area, I pretty much know that we hardly need gloves or coats here, but nobody from here knows this, and I try to blend, protective coloration don't you know.)
posted by dancestoblue at 6:11 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

We also have an aquarium stocked with a colony of platys, who have been happily breeding and self-replenishing since I first had a tank 12 years ago.

Google tells me that platys are little fish. For about a second I thought you had a tankful of platypuses and I was totally impressed.

I bought a big pile of imperfect Fiestaware at a dollar store over 18 years ago. I sometimes buy a plate or two in a new color, but I so rarely break any of it that I can't buy more because my kitchen cabinets might collapse under the weight. (I have three kids and maybe we've broken three or four bowls total.) I can't imagine needing more plates and I probably won't ever get sick of the solid colors.
posted by artychoke at 6:40 PM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

This might be mythological but supposedly when Ralph Nader left the army, he went to the commissary and bought several pairs of wool socks and a few suits that he still wears. That said, he has never married.

I'd think about small, hearty items - mugs sound like a great idea. Occasionally I'll collect toiletries from hotels with the intention of taking them to a homeless shelter.

Clothes are tricky. Even if you find something you really like, over time, your tastes change. I bought a few pairs of shorts I liked one season and didn't wear them at all the next season. It's actually a challenge for me when it comes to buying clothes at the end of the season because I worry that I won't like them next year, even though they're really cheap. YMMV.
posted by kat518 at 7:41 PM on January 3, 2013

The only thing I have a lifetime supply of is staples. For some reason, a brick of a dozen boxes of them was on sale for like $5.

Oh, and pencils. I used to work somewhere where we used pencils. I didn't like the kind they bought, so I would occasionally go out and buy a gross of the kind I liked. Turns out, I bought some right before I left that job, and now I have more pencils than I'll ever use.
posted by gjc at 4:54 AM on January 4, 2013

I am looking at my family in horror now. We buy Ikea glasses and mugs in bulk, 20 at a time and have to restock 2-3 times a year. Other people can have the same glassware for a decade?? How is that possible? Glasses and mugs have a 3-6 month lifespan for us.

We switched over to Corelle's Winter White dishes a few years ago and restock whenever there's a Corelle sale. They match with our mix of serving dishes and hold up to about a year a plate. Ditto flatware - Data from Ikea. I buy a new set every year because for some reason we have about 30 knives and 8 forks now for example.

My husband switched to plain cotton black socks and has a drawer full of them. For Christmas, he gets a dozen new ones, and just throws out the ones with holes. No matching required.

We do the same with a particular type of pen we like - I forget the specific one, but we buy boxes when we see them. We also bought several thousand generic paracetamol pills from a hospital pharmacy because they ended up costing 10% of the brand price when bought in bulk there. Small light and helpful. I have drawers of envelopes and cards on standby for the same reason, and rolls of kraft paper with some nice ribbons to be used for emergency wrapping.

Oh and the Chicken Socks and Klutz books. If I ever see them on sale, I pick up a couple and restock our gift box for last-minute kids gifts. They are reasonably fun and educational so kids and parents are happy.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:55 AM on January 4, 2013

In retrospect, I guess I could have just asked, "Please help me justify obscene amounts of hoarding." Nevertheless these are great answers and stories.

I don't know if constitutes actual hoarding, but I've always been sort of interested in the one-year pantry plans out there. I swear that I saw a monthly buying schedule once for creating one, and it was keyed to items that are likeliest to be on sale for that month. Example: walnuts and pecans are a holiday staple, so stock up on them in January when the stores are trying to clear them out. I've never been able to locate that page again, but I know I found it while going down a variety of prepper rabbit-trails awhile back.
posted by jquinby at 6:44 AM on January 4, 2013

Men's capilene boxer shorts, available from Patagonia, ideally in a solid color.

I bought seven pairs in 2001 for a year-long circumnavigation of the world and they are still entirely functional with no holes or other forms of embarrassment despite being maltreated.

Twelve years, so far, of being worn every seven days like clockwork. I do not own any other boxers; once I saw how well these had performed during their first year of use, I disposed of all others. Cotton? Feh.

If I had bought twenty or thirty pair I doubt I would have ever needed to purchase another form of undergarment in my life. I may, in fact, still not need to although the elastic has started to go a bit so I may only have another three-four years left on this first set, which saddens me in a thoroughly odd way (I'm considering replacing the elastic simply so that I do not have to part with them).
posted by aramaic at 8:14 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

We buy Ikea glasses and mugs in bulk, 20 at a time and have to restock 2-3 times a year. Other people can have the same glassware for a decade??

Ikea glasses break if you look at them wrong, and their mugs are oddly balanced.

I like Ikea stuff because it's cheap, but it really doesn't have the longevity that other brands can.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on January 4, 2013

Guns! My brother regularly shoots targets with a Russian WWII rifle he found at a flea market a few years back for $80. It's quality, too. You can tell that you're not dealing with some particle board when you feel the wood, it's worn in like an old chair. It also has a really rugged leather strap. I know fuck all about guns, so that's all I have to say about that, but I think it might outlive him.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:39 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pens and their refills. I curl around a pile of these Smaug-style and hiss at anyone who comes close.

Also, sports bras. There is one particular type and style lacking in production and the last time I found it I loaded up like a survivalist planning for long-term bralessness post-nuclear winter.
posted by zennish at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the 1980s, my dad bought a *huge* roll of generic wrapping paper (~18" diameter by 30" wide) at a garage sale for $5. It's still the standard family wrapping paper today, but I'd guess it's about 2/3 gone.
posted by Hatashran at 4:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

My Dad died on Dec 7, and I've taken a leave of absence from work to clean out his house and deal with his estate. He was a hoarder -- seriously, I have photos of the upstairs bedrooms, boxes to the ceiling and goat trails into a third of the room -- and so bought 'staples' in vast quantities, some because he couldn't find the ones he had in the clutter, but mostly because he never wanted to use anything. The problem with stocking up on items like socks, underwear, kleenex and toilet paper, pens and notepads is that they eventually decay, rot or die. I have thrown out boxes of unopened packs of undershirts and underpants with rotten elastic: he had bankers boxes full of pens, all of which were dried out. Even the glue strips on the neat little beside-the-phone notepads are breaking down -- and I have only kept two packets of the ones that aren't because I'm really, really never going to use them all. No human could.

The 30 year old toilet paper was unusable too. Paper decays, fabric decays, people decay. All is mortal.

Household goods and furniture, on the other hand, are magnificent and indestructible; I'm shipping a bunch of this home to use, because anything made in the 30's, 40's, 50's and earlier is built like a tank. Style is a problem: my own stuff is mid-century modern and most of the good furniture came from my grandmother and so is quite conservative, dark and polished. But it's really wonderfully made. As is the china, flatware and silverware. Tools fall in this category too: once you've bought one or two good shovels, axes, saws and hammers, you'll not need more.
posted by jrochest at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Socks made by Darn Tough are warrantied for life, so yes, even if they wear out, you're good.

Pre-WWII tools are still in active circulation, but don't do much good if you don't have a use for them.
posted by talldean at 4:23 PM on January 7, 2013

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