I’m not much of a consumer, in part because what I really want–Prada boots, thanks, an actual glass greenhouse, and a grey gunite swimming pool–I can’t afford. I have a European mother. I learned from her to be stubborn about the nice stuff and just to wait for it.
So I hate the fact that when I do buy something normal and mid-priced, it seems almost inevitably to be offensively flimsy, so flimsy as to be almost useless.
Here is a silly but somehow telling example: I recently needed a new cloth to clean my eyeglasses. The only one my local drugstore had cost $5 and came packaged with a bottle of some solution I didn’t want. Here’s the great part…the cloth is some completely weird, slimy synthetic…and it doesn’t work! The most low-tech product in the world, and it is a failure! I’m assuming that the cost of producing a little square of fabric that actually does the job represents only a fraction of a penny more than producing one that doesn’t. But I’m also assuming that the manufacturer is far away in China and more interested in cutting deals than in the happiness of eyeglass wearers in Saratoga Springs, NY.
This summer, I needed a new sprinkler for my flower garden. I’ve had the same rain tower sprinkler in my vegetable garden for the last 10 years…I bought it from the much-mourned, super-reliable Smith & Hawken and that one works. However, since my flower beds are more irregularly shaped and only irregularly watered, I just wanted one of those flat sprinklers that are easy to move around and easy to put away. So I bought the most expensive one in my local garden chain, made by a company called Ray Padula. I think it cost around $30. But I pulled the sprinkler out of the box only to find that it was made almost entirely of light plastic–so light that the force of the spray lifts the sprinkler out of the grass, and it gets stuck at some angle that doesn’t acccomplish what I wanted to accomplish. It’s also devilishly hard to screw a metal hose coupling into plastic. If you follow the link, you’ll see that the model I bought is connected to some nonsense slogan about inexpensive not meaning cheap. Ha! Didn’t sprinklers used to be made of metal, so they would actually SIT where you wanted them to?
Elizabeth complains about hose nozzles. I hate the fact that I had to buy three pond pumps this summer, because the Tetra pond pumps sold at my local Lowe’s kept failing. I also hate that setting a new one up would send me into a rage every time, because the parts they sell to connect the pump to a filter and a fountain feature are cheap plastic and don’t attach to each other in any rational way.
I think of my garden as an investment. I don’t buy a lot of equipment. I just want to buy sturdy stuff that will last a good long time–and keep me from having to waste my life driving around to find replacements. I don’t understand why I either have to buy online to find good gardening equipment– or drive all the way to Southern Vermont, where there is a trio of super-nice nurseries along the spine of the state line, with rich customers willing to pay for a pair of Felco pruners or a nice shovel–and to do it once and then move on with their lives.