Why Quality Matters: The Boots Theory of Socioeconomics

Why Quality Matters: The Boots Theory of Socioeconomics

A lot of people think that the less they spend, the more money they are saving. And if you are only thinking about tomorrow, or the next month, you may be correct. But when you are having to spend that “lesser” amount of money every 6 months, then you start to lose out on your advantage. Something quality could last for a decade or more, or even be passed down through the family. But something that is made of cardboard and faux leather will end up breaking down, and in the time someone would have bought one quality oak furniture piece, they would have to buy 10 Wal-Mart quality sets in the same amount of time. This idea was first espoused by the writer Terry Pratchet in his play Men at Arms.

Vimes’ Theory of Unfairness

Terry Pratchet’s character, Samuel Vimes, created what he called the Boots Theory of socioeconomic unfairness. His idea was that those with money managed to keep it because they managed to spend less of it. His classic penultimate example was boots. Samuel earned (for this example) $50 plus allowances every month, but a really nice set of boots ran for $75. An affordable set of boots, which might be OK for a season or two before they “leaked like hell and the cardboard gave out” cost about ten dollars. Vimes ended up buying the affordable pair, and he would wear them until they were so thin he could tell what street he was on by feeling the cobbles through his soles.

A good pair of boots, on the other hand, would have lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollar pair of boots would be wearing them and still keeping his feet dry for the next ten years. But in the same amount of time, someone who bought the affordable shoes, would have spent $100 in the same amount of time, and had his feet wet for a lot of that time. That is the Vimes’ theory of unfairness.

As With Boots, So With Furniture

We can take this example and extrapolate it to quality furniture. Someone makes 1,500 a month, but a nice set of furniture costs $2,000. A cheap set of furniture—one that is going to start tearing after the sixth month and have the cardboard break by the end of the year—is only $400. But a good quality set of oak or leather furniture will last 10 years or more, and can be passed down to other family members even then.

A person who bought that oak or leather set would still have comfortable seating after a decade, whereas the person who bought the affordable set would have spent $4000 in the same amount of time, dealing with broken furniture for much of that time. That is the Furniture Theory of Unfairness.

This is obviously not an actual calculation. But it does begin to show the true value of quality—longevity, and having that quality be sustained throughout the entirety of the time you own it. And the higher quality is obviously also translated to increased enjoyment and utility derived from the furniture. But we take pride in the real facts behind our furniture. It is all hand-made, meaning we catch any defects ourselves. It is made in America. And it is made with nothing but the best materials. All of this translates to one thing—a great pair of boots piece of quality furniture.