Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

The Myth of the Expensive

There’s this common wisdom that says that the more expensive the item, the better the quality, the better the buy. We’re sold this line on everything from name brand pharmaceuticals, to organic food, to grass-fed beef. Nowhere is this more true than in the natural family oriented markets where things like toys are revered for both their natural materials and their matching price tags.

Our children own a mix of toys including a veritable pantheon of soft stuffed friends. The best ones were lovingly made by my mother, an experience I’m not all that certain she’s willing to repeat. My Mom put countless hours into those friends, adjusting the pattern to reflect what she felt was better construction. Experience that comes from years as a quilter and twenty years of sewing on uniform patches.

Some of our stuffed friends come from the pricier toy catalogs. One in particular, Nova Natural, is the darling of Waldorf and natural family minded folks alike. We’ve owned a total of three stuffed friends from them. The first was a small Waldorf doll named Lena. Within three months of playing with the doll, the arm seams had come undone. My daughter hadn’t owned the doll for more than three months and because my Mom had purchased it in the Fall, well in advance of the Christmas season, they were unable to help me aside from giving me a gift certificate for half the price of the doll. We were assured that this had happened with other dolls, but that it was just a small number of dolls who were extra stuffy.

I took that gift card, believing that we had an exceptional case and purchased a replacement in hopes of getting a doll that would last. We had the second doll not much longer than the first when the doll’s arm seams unraveled in much the same fashion as the first. When I called them it was suggested that perhaps I might call a local Waldorf school and have them repair it (no such luck). Oh, and by the way, this time here’s your refund.  My Mom came to the rescue and repaired the second doll which has held up since with nary a problem including outfit changes by a loving three-year old girl.

Believing that surely those dolls were the exception, I took the money we had received from the doll refund and used it to purchase the sweetest stuffed horsie you’ve ever seen. My doll loving little girl goes nuts for horses so we thought it would be the perfect fit. It was pricier than we’d ever spend, but by putting the doll money towards it (since price is always a direct reflection of quality) we could easily make up the difference.  My husband and I envisioned that this stuffed horsie would be a cherished friend for years to come.

She’s had this stuffed horse since this last Christmas. Yes, that’s right, Horsie isn’t even a year old and this dear friend already has two holes in him and is spilling his buckwheat stuffing all over the place.

Compared to the cheap stuffed animals my children have owned, the ones made in China and sold at your average big box store, the pricey ones pale in comparison. We’ve owned $7 polyester cats that have lasted years. The $60 stuffed horse that didn’t make it past six months.

The horse will head to my Mom’s house tomorrow where, hopefully after my sister’s wedding, she’ll attempt to make Horsie whole again. I’ll skip calling Nova Natural, they’ll only offer me a gift card, and I don’t need to go through this…again.

Cost is not always reflective of quality or value. Sometimes the most special, highly prized stuffed friends come out of the bin at Target.


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