When Did Buying Crap Become A Hobby?

Who's a pretty birdie?

Who’s a pretty birdie?

Most of us work to support our habits and save passion for the things we choose to do in our off-hours.  We pursue hobbies like…

  • Collecting stamps, coins, or art
  • Reading or writing
  • Hiking or swimming
  • Sewing or gardening
  • Playing the accordion

These are all worthwhile pursuits that stimulate the mind or body, and add richness to our lives.  But many of us spend vast amounts of time on an activity that seems to improve neither the world nor ourselves.

When did buying crap get to be a hobby?

We the people love to shop.  It doesn’t matter if we need to buy anything or not; shopping is merely one of a broad menu of leisure options available. “What do you want to do this afternoon?  Go to a movie?  Take a hike in the woods?  I know – let’s go to Costco!”

Need has little to do with these forays into retail territory, and even less to do with the stuff that winds up coming home with us.  Shopping has become at best an entertainment, and at worst an addiction.  Many use it as a way to kill time.

Go to practically any store – food, sporting goods, clothing,etc. – and you’ll see shoppers doing The Browser’s Shuffle.  They lean on their carts and wander slowly up and down the aisles, their glazed eyes as empty as their carts are full.

I doubt this phenomenon is peculiar to Americans, but I suspect we have elevated it to an art form.  We go shopping for the fun of it so often we even have a name for the practice; “retail therapy.”  If we took part in psychological therapy as often as we did the retail variety, we’d be the most well-adjusted society in history.

This seems to affect women more than men and it cuts across all income levels.  You’ll see the same, telltale Browsers Shuffle at Neiman Marcus and the Goodwill, although the quantity, quality and cost of stuff in the cart may differ.

The Shuffler at Goodwill is often a hoarder loading her cart with 99¢ plastic flower bouquets and little, poly-resin statues of teddy bears.   Her Neiman Marcus counterpart,  snagging $99 silk blouses in every color of the rainbow, escapes the hoarder label by the simple tactic of having a lot more storage space.  She also tends to clear the way for new stuff by donating the old stuff as soon as it goes out of style.

For many, shopping provides the thrill of the hunt and a rush of endorphins when the quarry is bagged.  Loneliness, lack of purpose in life, boredom – whatever the malady, retail therapy delivers relief.

I confess to being a thrift shop junkie.  I like to think of myself as a treasure hunter who reuses and recycles in a noble attempt to save the planet.  But I’m really more like a magpie on the lookout for shiny bits to pick up and take back to the nest.

I was at the Salvation Army store the other day when a tchotchke caught my eye.  It looked familiar, so I figured I’d probably seen a similar piece in the pages of a home design magazine.  I didn’t need it and had no idea what I would do with it if I bought it, but buy it, I must.  I was tenderly loading it into my shopping cart when it occurred to me why this item looked so familiar; it was mine.  At least it used to be mine. I had donated it to this very same institution months earlier after a round of tchotchke purging, which I had self-righteously told myself I was doing to help the poor.  In my heart-of-hearts I suspect my motivation was more to free up valuable space for new arrivals.

The bottom line is; I was about to buy back my own crap.

After this little tirade you might be expecting a sacred vow to lay off shopping and devote all my free time to self-improvement.  Nope.  The fact is, I HAVE made a hobby out of shopping, one that is both fun and profitable.   I buy and sell old stuff.  Dolls, pottery – I’ve dabbled in a lot of different collectibles.  My current passion is vintage costume jewelry.  It’s a thrill when I snag a sparkly pendant from a favorite designer.  I make new jewelry out of the broken and less valuable pieces.

This isn’t my only hobby, though.  I do lots of other things like reading,  crafting and hiking.  I also like to do a bit of writing now and then.   I figure I’m OK with the shopping as long as I stay within budget, and get rid of more than I bring in.  And while I readily concede that this particular hobby isn’t doing much to save the environment, it does help make it shiny and pretty.  At least the environment around my neck.



About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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52 Responses to When Did Buying Crap Become A Hobby?

  1. Not all Browser Shuffling happens out of the household, however…I know a blogger who calls this particular brand of therapy Etsomnia – when you find yourself unable to sleep and so shop Etsy in the wee hours of the morning.

    And this results in a double-whammy of the new stuff endorphin rush…you get to shop, and then a week later, you get to open the package that arrives on your doorstep. Sometimes, it’s like Christmas in the off season, as you’ve totally forgotten you ordered the thing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • pegoleg says:

      I can totally relate, except I have Ebonia and I experience it on both sides. I buy stuff at auctions, then resell it on Ebay. Thrills all around!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gabby Granny says:

      I’m one of those online browsers. I make jewelry as a hobby, and I am totally addicted to Fire Mountain Gems’ web site. For relaxation in the evening I will go on to see what’s on sale, and at one in the morning I will realize that I’m still browsing and that my cart contains three hundred dollars worth of stuff from their $1.00 sale. Because I keep myself to a strict budget of twenty dollars, I spend the next hour trying to decide which items to cut off the list, and at a quarter after two I realize that I still haven’t done the dinner dishes. I think it’s time I attend a meeting or two of Shopping Addicts Anonymous.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got the bug last summer when I started going to really good estate sales in search of, well, a house of furniture. I scored some fabulous buys but the critical thing was I needed to replace our burned down house so there was merit in my motives. I’ve continued going to sales but have greatly reduced my purchases. In fact, at the last sale by Patty G., I didn’t buy ANYTHING. A first since I started my earnest shopping.
    You and MK are the queens of finding cool deals and you do such great things with the treasures you buy.
    Nice post, Peg. And you are an exceptionally talented writer!
    Have a fabulous day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Our days of buying crap are over now that we downsized to a townhome. I don’t want to have to declutter ever again! I love that you almost bought your own stuff back. Too funny. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Al says:

    I just took time out from practicing the Beer Barrel Polka to read this. You know there are support groups for this. They meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the flea market in most towns.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Jo says:

    That’s funny that you almost bought back what you had donated. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I hate shopping and don’t understand shopping as a hobby!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. lexiemom says:

    You know I like to watch the show “Hoarders”. When the show first came out, the producers used to say that this “Hoarding Addiction” affected 3 million Americans (>1% of population). Now the opening credits estimate that 10 million Americans are hoarders (<3% of population). It is an increasing problem in this country, and I'm always amazed at the crap these people keep buying & bringing into their house. They'll have cans of food that are 12 years old, and say things like, "oh, I can still use that". Or old toys their now grown kids never played with covered in rat poop, and say "I can sell those. That's worth a lot." It's delusional. Every time I watch the show, it makes me want to take a long shower and then clean my house again. But I keep watching. Maybe it's an addiction…

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      Really? The number is on the rise? I wonder if that’s the power of suggestion – millions of Americans who want their moment of fame by being on that show. Like I thought that MTV show about teenagers getting pregnant only encouraged the practice. We are an easily led people, aren’t we?

      I know what you mean about watching addiction. I’m not so much into “Hoarders” as shows about “The Man Whose Skin Is Like Tree Bark” and the like. I watch “My 600 Pound Life” while eating Cheetos and I point my Orange Finger of Righteousness at the TV and say, “See? I’m positively skinny by comparison!” My husband leaves the room if I’m watching that stuff.

      I think it’s the same old fascination with the bizarre that made circus freak shows so popular before the advent of technology.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Elyse says:

    You tried to buy your own crap? That is the funniest thing EVAH!

    My mother used to frequent flea markets, and buy the crappiest of crap. Once she came home with a little knick-knack of two love birds on a birdbath, with the name of some lucky couple who had given them away at their wedding. We didn’t know the pair, or know if they remained married after unloading some of their crap. My mother was very annoyed that we all laughed uproariously at her. Me, I am very careful to make sure that the crap I buy have no identifying features.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is something I would totally do, Peg-o-mine.
    How was your summer? Coming back to Maine anytime soon? 😉


  10. susielindau says:

    What did you buy back???
    I used to garage sale all the time for the thrill of bargain hunting…until my house was filled to the brim. Selling takes time, so I donate. Danny says we need a dumpster.


  11. I thought I had a shopping problem when I almost bought back one of my own purses at a consignment store…until I discovered my then husband’s $90,000 credit card balance and the storage locker he rents to hide all the crap he buys. Shopping is a bit like wine–healthy and fun in moderation, but not so good if you get carried away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      Yikes! At least I’m not hiding my crap from my hubby. Well…I don’t exactly announce the arrival of new crap, and I do bring it in from the garage after he goes to bed, and I’m the one who balances the checkbook and pays the credit card bill…but I’m not hiding anything.


  12. It’s all about the endorphins, innit? You buy something, you get a little charge. A thrill. I get the same thing at a craps table in a casino. We’re all just a pack of Pavlovian mutts. So predictable.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Shannon says:

    My shopping mom likes to exclaim, ‘Look how much I saved!’ when bragging on her newest purchase. In my mind, you don’t save unless you spend nothing to begin with, and even then you have to actually SAVE it by putting the unspent cash out of sight for a future need.

    I have never understood people’s ‘need’ for stuff. But donating/buying from resale shops is a bit different — I liken it to recycling. Better to buy something again (even if it was once yours!!) than to rape the earth of its resources for something brand-spankin-new, a thing which statistically will wind up in a giant hole in the ground.

    What a fun story to tell, Peg. And you tell it so well. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks, Shannon – how nice to see you!

      I buy the majority of my “hard” goods from thrift stores. I draw the line at underwear, most shoes and most upholstered items – never mattresses. And I give back the stuff I don’t want anymore. When I buy something, new or used, I tend to think of myself as renting it.

      You have a much more earth-centric motivation than I do, which should come as no surprise to either of us. :). For me the motivation is that I think that waste is wrong, I realize that there are lots of people who can’t afford to buy things, and I love the idea that something can be reused instead of going to the landfill.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed the Etsy link on my sidebar, but I like to make new junk out of old junk. It’s like an illness.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Rose Duclos says:

    my shopping addictions are books and jewelry. I met a friend yesterday for coffee and a walk around the local stores. We went into three places, and by the end of the 3 hours I’d bought a necklace and 7 pairs of earrings.
    I arrived home and put on my purchases, and was very excited by them all.
    today, I went out – and you would think I would have worn one of those purchases… but no… instead, I wore earrings from a shopping trip several years ago and left all the newly purchased ones in the bag.
    I have more jewelry than I’ll probably ever wear – I don’t know why I keep buying more… that I gravitate toward the same type of boutiques and keep to the same patterns over and over again.
    Retail therapy? … maybe best we just label that we need therapy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: When Did Buying Crap Become A Hobby? — Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings – Titlu sit

  16. Judy Budy says:

    Hello Maaa-gret!
    While John has been home he has been sorting and tossing, which has turned out to be both good and bad😏 He calls us hoarders, even tho I donate at least once a month and rarely shop. Where does it all come from? Our father of course! He hands me all this junk he gets in the mail because he can’t bear to get rid of anything 🙄😂

    Love Jude the Bude

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Is there a such thing as the Browser’s Shuffle with those “as seen on TV” infomercials? My neighbor just bought something that looks like an oversized sandal with suction cups on the bottom. Is that brilliant or ridiculous? I can’t decide.


  18. I am not a shopper at the best of times. I like to know what I need, go in, grab it and out. However, my sisters are shoppers on a professional level. I’ve just had a massive purge because of downsizing drastically and when my sister came to town I took her over to Value Village (our Goodwills went under due to embezzlement by their head honcho). Anyway, Value Village is huge here, non-profit and proceeds go to diabetes research,etc. As we strolled down the aisles everything my sister picked up and put in her cart, I would automatically pull back out. She was getting pissed. The thing was, everything she picked out, I had just brought there the week before.


  19. I really enjoyed your post Peg-o-leg! It is endearing to me to know I am not the only one who does this. I actually did buy back something I donated to a thrift shop about 8 months prior. I thought it was silly when I realized it. My eldest son had a cool hoodie but had outgrown it. My second eldest son was not quite big enough for it yet. So, naturally I recycled it to someone else. Well, 8 months later I am shopping at the same location and buy that hoodie, since it did now fit my second son. It was not until I seen my oldest son in a picture with the hoodie on that I had realized it. LOL! I had to laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      No, you’re not alone. I haven’t bought my own stuff back, but I have bought a dress that I already owned. Now I have two of them and I’m all set if I discover I have a long lost twin.


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