My wife says I’m a brand snob. I insist on buying a brand-name item even though a no-name brand may be just as good, and less expensive, she says.
I plead guilty, I guess, although not as guilty as I used to be. I would say my change in attitude is because of rising prices, but Jenny would say it’s better attributed to her common sense.
Jenny used to kid me about my insistence on a particular brand for everything from cheese crackers (Cheez-Its) to napkins (Vanity Fair) and jeans (Levis) to dress shirts (Brooks Brothers).
I admit I’m pretty stubborn, but I’ve budged a little. She’s talked me into some brand of soft napkins for a penny a piece at Sam’s Club. Of course, I have to buy a thousand at a time. A pantry shelf is stuffed with napkins.
Anyhow, the worth of a brand name has been a big topic around our house for the past several weeks. And it involves the most unlikely subject: patio chair cushions.
Here’s the story: Twenty-two years ago (that would be pre-Jenny), I bought a top-of-the-line patio set. It has a nice round table, an umbrella, and four high-back swivel rockers with big overstuffed cushions.
I love my patio rockers. They’re far more comfortable than the living-room sofa or anything else in the house. And they’re perfect for a late afternoon nap on a warm day.
Shortly after we were married 11 years ago, Jenny noticed the cushions were faded and needed to be replaced. So I went to the furniture store and ordered some new ones. She complained about the cost, but she got over it.
At least, until now. The patio set is still nice, no chipped paint, rust or anything. But you guessed it: The cushions have split and the filler is falling out.
I finally found an authorized dealer for the brand in Tupelo. When I got to the store, I noticed they didn’t have any of the sets in stock.
“It’s become so expensive, no one buys it anymore,” the clerk said. “But we can order it.”
That’s not a good sign, I thought. I wonder how much replacement cushions will cost?
She showed me the company’s catalog. None of the sets looked like mine. She assured me cushions for any set the company ever had made could be special ordered. Just take a picture of the set and she would forward it to the company and get a price.
I found out how “special” the special ordering meant when the company sent the price. Even I, the brand snob, was taken aback. We could go to the beach for a week for less.
We shopped around and discovered that none of the standard replacement cushions available in stores fit this company’s furniture. How convenient for them, I thought.
The solution? We found a company in Texas that makes inexpensive cushions specifically to fit my patio rockers. I’ll be back to napping on the patio by the end of March.
I was telling Jenny about how much better I’ve gotten about not insisting on a top-of-the-line brand, when she mentioned that Kroger-brand cheese crackers taste as good as Cheez-Its.
Uh-oh. I should have kept my mouth shut.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.