Thursday, March 31, 2022

RHYS on Impulse Buys

 RHYS BOWEN: Ask anyone and they will tell you I am usually a sensible, frugal person. I never buy anything unless I really need it. I see a lovely pair of black slacks, but... I already have a good pair of black slacks so I don't need two, right? And I always check the sales racks. My daughter Jane despairs of me. When I show her a new item of clothing that I’ve just bought she asks “Did you find that on the sale rack?” and usually I answer yes. She rolls her eyes. “Mom. You don’t need the sales rack.”

I can only think of two occasions when I have made true impulse buys:

This is one of them. John and I were on vacation in Mexico when we spotted him in a gallery and both instantly fell in love with him. He is from Oaxaca and is made of their famous black clay. We went in and bought him, packing him carefully amid our clothing to bring home safely.  When we got him home we noticed that he should have been holding something—a spear? A fishing rod? Still not sure. He has sat on my coffee table in Arizona ever since, guarding the house when we are gone for six months.


And in his arms—another impulse buy. At a native American art fair I met a man who makes Navajo flutes. So I had to have one. It sounds wonderful—haunting, mystical. And I was able to choose the talisman that went with it to control the air flow. I chose an eagle, symbol of creativity.

I realize now that I do have a third impulse buy: I was walking around the small mission town of St. Juan Bautista when I saw a painting of a seascape in an art gallery. It was simple and beautiful and although I did not need another painting in my life I bought it. And still adore it.

I can think of a couple of occasions when I didn’t buy and still regret. 

I was touring with Cara Black and we went into a boutique in Malibu. Cara made me try on a white leather jacket. It was soooo gorgeous. Get it, Cara kept saying, but it was $1500 and in those days that was way too much to pay for a jacket (It still is, even though I could now afford it). But I have to confess that I've regretted it. I haven't seen another one like it since. And Cara keeps reminding me: "You should have bought that jacket. I told you!"

Another occasion was an art fair in Central Park New York. There was a three dimensional painting of a ballerina leaping off the canvas. It was huge—probably six feet by four and there was no way I could get it home, and it was seven or eight hundred dollars—money I certainly didn’t have in those days. And I really didn’t have a wall to put something that size on either. But I still regret it. Now I have a huge wall in our Arizona house—twenty five foot ceiling where that painting would have looked spectacular. So maybe next time I’m in New York I might just check…. Just in case…

So, dear Reds, confess: are you an impulse buyer? What true impulse items have you bought?

71 comments:

  1. I must admit that almost all of my impulse purchases are something for someone else. Dinosaurs fossils for the seven-year-old grandbaby; a doll [and all the accessories] for the almost-five grandbaby. Mickey Mouse stuff for the eight-year-old grandbaby . . . .

    What do I buy for myself? Books, of course . . . .

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    1. Oh me too on the books Joan! I was just thinking the same thing

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    2. Same for me regarding books, Joan!

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  2. Hmmm, I have bought small items on impulse while travelling such as a unique shirt or books (of course). Luckily, I am prevented from splurging on any large (and expensive) impulse buy since I usually take carry-on luggage when flying on multiple planes.

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    1. For ezample, I bought this embroidered blouse for $8 CDN in 1988 in Budapest, Hungary.
      I still wear it in the summertime.
      https://www.amazon.ca/photos/share/Li9EQ6WUDBbMCdq43U7SEsI9zfId8XBXuygCeBRnl1t

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    2. What a lovely blouse! So glad you snapped it up and are still enjoying it.

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    3. KAIT: Yes, I don't have any other clothes from the 1980s that I can still wear, and it is unique and very comfy.

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    4. Oh small impulse buys while traveling are a must, Grace, especially clothes

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    5. RHYS: Yes, fortunately a unique blouse or unframed print or hand-drawn map (Le Marais in Paris, or Oxford) fit in my travel backpack on those trips. The maps were framed at home and were on my walls for many years.

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  3. I don't think I'm an impulse buyer, unless you count when I go into a bookstore for one book and leave with 5.

    Otherwise, it is kind of hard to be an impulse buyer when I have to budget all my money to pay bills, buy food and hopefully have some left over to have previously planned fun with.

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  4. I love the flute holder, Rhys! When we were in Morocco, I bought the most gorgeous turquoise and blue loose jacket out of cloth made from agave fibers. But it's too big on me. I've been telling myself for ten years to take it apart and cut it down. Or take it to a tailor. And it still hangs in the closet, untouched! But hey, if I act soon, I can wear it Malice!

    Another impulse buy was a print we bought in Santa Fe four years ago. It's a simple picture of a chair and a plant on a covered porch at an antique adobe. The colors are warm lovely desert shades and it makes me happy every time I look at it. Plus, it was easy to bring home!

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    1. Ah, the jacket also has purple in it. My colors! I just took it out of the closet, found the pattern I bought five years ago to re-cut it with, and laid them out in plain sight atop my sewing machine. Fingers crossed.

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    2. Could you wear it as is over a black turtleneck and black slacks?

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    3. No, it's just too big, Hank. But I grew up sewing, and it's good to have a project a couple times a year. The last one was a baby quilt for great-godson in September, so I'm overdue!

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    4. We have bought several prints while traveling, Edith but I have to stop John from buying more as we’ve run out of wall space! Maybe make the coat into a vest?

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    5. EDITH: Hope to see you wearing that modified jacket one day (at a mystery convention)!

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    6. Thanks, Grace. If it works out, I'll bring it to Minneapolis!

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  5. I am pretty sure that pre-pandemic, my closet and home were full of impulse buys; a piece of artwork, a dress or jacket. I'm not too sure how you would define it because few were actual splurges.

    Since March 2020, my impulse buys have all been books for my shelves and my Kindle (which I bought in April 2020!) And the biggest splurge has been Audible Plus, which allows me to choose 1 book a month and also includes a catalogue of audio selections from which I can stock my audio library. And I Have! I have all of Rhys's Royal Spyness Books, all but 2 of Debs' books and all of Jenn's Hat Shop Books, plus many more of The Reds' audio books. I listened to all of the Lord of the Rings, some Michael Connelly read by Titus Welliver, and lots of sexy romances, too. While working around the house, I listen constantly! Impulse buys all!

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    1. You know, I think my first Nook was an impulse purchase. But the subsequent two were not!

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    2. Judy,

      When the pandemic started, we bought two iPads so that we could borrow ebooks from the library.

      Diana

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    3. Audible is a necessity, Judy! A tool for sanity in tough times

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    4. Karen, about those Nooks, do they each contain different books or do they eventually quit working and need to be replaced?

      Diana, good move to purchase i-pads for library books. When the libraries were closed in Spring 2020, I read their books on my phone. I still do occasionally!

      Rhys, thanks! I'll tell Irwin you said so! ROTFL

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    5. The Nook account has the books on it, so if you have an account with B&N you can read their Nook format books on any device that has the Nook app. I use a tablet that I got from B&N, but it's not a dedicate Nook device. It's basically a Samsung tablet that has the Nook app. And I also have a Kindle app on it, and can read Libby ebooks from the library, as well as listen to Audible books. It's why I chose Nook over a Kindle device, for the flexibility. But I've also read both Nook and Kindle, as well as Google books, on my phone in a pinch. It's not my preference, though--the phone screen is too small.

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  6. I'm not much of an impulse buyer - I leave that to The Hubby. After all, there can't be two impulse buyers in a marriage, right?

    Unless, like Jay, you count going into a store for one book and coming out with 3 or more impulse buying.

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    1. Liz, too often I go into a bookstore with the intention of buying one book and coming out with impulsive book buying of many books. LOL Diana

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  7. I buy my three daughters jewelry when we travel. In Egypt, I ordered them open work cartouche earrings with hieroglyphic symbols for their names. So pretty and delicate. I never buy anything for myself, but I did: a pendant of Horus, the falcon god, my favorite in Egyptian mythology and my spiritual buddy during the trip.

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    1. I love buying jewelry for my girls when I travel! And your pendant sounds perfect

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    2. I too, buy earrings for the daughter and d-i-l when traveling! They are easy gifts to carry and each culture has such unique offerings! My other favorite travel purchases are scarves and shawls.

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  8. Liz and I may be married to the same guy! My impulse buys are limited to books and tchotchkes.

    There was that one time, though, I bought a 1999 Chevy Tahoe. My Honda was on it's last leg, and when I pulled into the Chevy dealership to look around, I fell in love. The Tahoe is long gone, it was a great car that never let me down and turned into a wise buy.

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    1. Oh, Kait, I love that you bought a car on impulse, especially since it was such a great car. It would be much harder to explain the Porche that turned out to be a "lemon" for one of my former boyfriends. Ha. (He was a lemon, too.)

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  9. Do not put me in a bookstore, a fabric store, or yarn store, alone with cash or a credit card ;-) Just saying!

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    1. Substitute the yarn store for a garden center, and we're twins, Flora. LOL

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    2. The berry stand at the grocery store for me! I can't walk by it!

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  10. I can think of at least one item I didn't buy and I do regret it. I was in a secondhand shop with a friend and we saw a mink stole for $25. It was so beautiful and warm. My friend pointed out that it would be great for reading in bed. But it was summertime and I didn't buy. I can't tell you how often on cold nights I wished I had that fur while I was reading. Sweatshirts and lengths of fleece fabric really don't do it for me.

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    1. I bet you can still find fur items chalky at thrift stores since they’ve fallen out of favor, Judi. I never have that problem as John likes the house too warm for me!

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    2. A black evening gown in a shop window on New Year's Eve in Universal Orlando, back in the 90's. I saw it. I knew it would be perfect on me. I walked away and didn't even go inside to price it. We were there for just one night after a long day of traveling and I couldn't make Irwin and Jonathan wait while I screwed around with shopping for an evening gown. I can still picture it in that window. Sigh

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    3. Judi,

      Love vintage shops since I have old fashioned tastes.

      Diana

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  11. Love the flute player/spear holder, Rhys.

    My husband would say I'm an impulse buyer, but usually I'm not. But

    The one true impulse buy I can recall was when my middle daughter was desperate to learn piano in first grade. We consulted some teachers, and they counseled against getting a keyboard, and discouraged trying to practice at Grandma's house. My husband was on a several-week lecture tour when I saw a tent sale advertised, and I bought one and had it delivered. When he came home there it was.

    And it is still in our living space, a magnet for the girls when they visit, and Steve still doesn't want to know how much it cost.

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    1. Ha, ha, ha! Love it. Kait bought a car, you bought a piano. Love these stories!

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    2. Karen,

      Buying a piano is awesome. Love these stories!

      Diana

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  12. RHYS:

    How did you know that I am reading THE IMPULSE PURCHASE by Veronica Henry? Or is it a coincidence? I ordered this novel from Hatchard's since the only novel by Veronica Henry sold in the USA was HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP.

    Question for Jungle Reds and readers here who have travelled to England in the last ten years: Did any of you see novels by Veronica Henry in the bookshops in England?


    Trying to recall if I ever bought anything on impulse? Perhaps when I ordered tea tins, Baby Archie tea towel, the Queen birthday celebration tea towels and several goodies from the Buckingham Palace shop? I may have made an impulse purchase at the Nutcracker shop when we went to see the Nutcracker at the San Francisco Ballet years ago!

    Usually when I travel, I buy postcards because I only use carry on bags when I fly. The last time I flew was on the same day of lockdown in California on March 12, 2020.

    Diana

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    1. I adored HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP. Is the Impulse Purchase just as good Diana? if so, will have to track it down.

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    2. LUCY:

      You can order THE IMPULSE PURCHASE from Hatchard's. They are great about shipping the book overseas to the USA. I just started reading the book. Friends in England have sent other novels by Veronica Henry. There are several books on Apple ebooks that you can buy if you read ebooks.

      Diana

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    3. I too bought several items at the Buckingham Palace shop, Diana. I don’t usually buy books in England because we normally head across to France or aurally afterward and I don’t want to carry them

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    4. Rhys, they have beautiful things at the Buckingham Palace shop, right?

      Lucy, here is the link to the book from Hatchard's:

      https://www.hatchards.co.uk/book/the-impulse-purchase/veronica-henry/9781398706163

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  13. Yes, there was a piece of art that I saw when I was in Atlanta. It’s hard to describe, but it was intricate and incredible— Tiny ceramic figurines, tiny, wired into a mesh grid. It sounds weird but it was incredible. I stared at it and stared at it. I don’t remember how much it cost, but it was far too much for my budget. I still think about it.

    Sometimes vacation impulse buys are riskier, because some thing that looks fabulous in the context of wherever you are looks rather out of place when you get home. I’m thinking of a Minnie Mouse ears I bought at Disney World :-)

    And I don’t think it’s about “needing” the sales rack. It’s a treasure hunt.xxxx

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    1. Somehow I can’t picture you in Minnie Mouse ears!

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    2. Hank, yes, it's a treasure hunt to look through the sales rack! Diana

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    3. HANK: Is there a photo of you wearing those Minnie Mouse ears?

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    4. Hank,

      We would love to see a photo of you wearing Minnie Mouse ears. Now I remember that I made an impulse purchase at Disneyland. I could not resist this Christmas ornament from the Christmas shop there.

      Diana

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    5. Hank, you would make Mickey Mouse ears look as elegant as anything else you wear, I have no doubt.

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    6. I am laughing so hard! There is not, nor will there ever be, a picture of me in the mouse ears! Trust me. But I am incredibly grateful for your votes of confidence…xxxx

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  14. The buys my hub still talks about, 15 years later, were from a spice shop in Truro ma, at least 15 years ago, maybe longer: https://www.atlanticspice.com/. He had to drag me out and I still have giant bags of oregano and other herbs in the pantry. Looking at their website, I'd go back in an instant...

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    1. Interesting Lucy. On our trip to the Eastern Townships several ears ago, I bought out a spice shop, loved the strange combos and the little tins they came in. 5-8 Canadian dollars each. And never used. Yesterday I turned out a kitchen cabinet and pitched every single one of them. Tomorrow I will find I need fenugreek for something.

      It's guaranteed.



















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  15. Since the pandemic we have bought groceries via Instacart. There's an upcharge but it is offset by the absolute lack of impulse buying while shopping for food and toilet paper.

    Contrariwise, we do make the odd Trader Joe and Aldi trip, and that is impulsivity personified! So many things not available in our usual store, so many "deals" on center aisle that aren't to be missed, and who knew we could get fresh frozen vacuum packed mussels! Sans those pesky shells.

    My other big impulse buys are shoes. I adore shoes. I have tons of shoes that fit poorly and are never worn but they were so CUTE!!!!

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    1. Oh, yes, I have definitely done a lot of food impulse buying. Even before the pandemic.

      Let's agree to not discuss Sam's Club or Costco.

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  16. Like Jay, over the years my budget has usually precluded much impulse buying. But I do think most of the nice artwork we own fits that description. There's a beautiful numbered print of a painting of a mountain crevice with a lone wolf on the peak in semi-darkness that we picked up in Steamboat Springs early in our marriage that still makes me as happy today as it did then.

    One of my husband's impulse purchases that worked out well for me was some VERY good tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert here in Columbus 6 years ago. His boss and her wife were going and he spontaneously had her order tickets for us, too. We are not frequent attenders of rock concerts, but these were the best seats I have EVER had at any kind of concert and the performance was intimate and exhilarating. We mutually agreed that it was best if we didn't discuss what he actually paid for them.

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  17. Relaxed shopping is part of the fun of traveling - we love places like farmers markets - but for purchases, I lean to miniatures for my desk, a pretty mug that represents the place,an exotic spice. I cherish the packable straw hat I bought on the streets of a town in Crete. But my husband is the real impulse shopper. Do you want to read about the complete set of pottery he bought in Homer, Alaska? Shipped home to NY, of course. Or the large painting from a tiny art gallery in quaint Sarlat-la-Caneda, Dordogne,France? So tiny and so quaint, they did not take credit cards and could not ship. We carried it back to Paris by rented car and train. Hotel could not direct us to a shipper, and the airport did not have one,so we then carried it home on the plane! It was an adventure.

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  18. I make some impulse buys. In fact, I made one last week while on vacation in San Diego with my family. We ran across a booth with a man selling paintings he does on glass. The larger size was only $20. My brother and sister-in-law bought the one I really liked, but when I went buy a few minutes later and saw he was painting another one of that design, I bought it. It's of a sun set at sea with a palm tree behind it. I have it in my garden window in my kitchen. When the sun comes in behind it (which it does in the afternoon/evening since this window faces west), the picture really lights up. It's beautiful.

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  19. I always check the sales rack! Full price is usually ridiculous and I just can't do it. Unfortunately my husband isn't bothered at all by full price. Bleah. Impulse items would include food items I really don't need, especially "junk" food. I used to buy souvenirs like crazy on trips but have tempered that impulse quite a bit. I try to limit myself to useful things like tea towels and clothing I can wear at home.

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  20. A friend taught me her mother's shopping philosophy: How will you feel about that item in a year? If you'd still want it, then get it. There's a painting of a girl on a swing that meets that criteria X 40 and I still wish I hadn't let myself be talked out of buying it. Of course, it has now been glorified in my mind and I have a framed print and a little statue that ALMOST make up for it. As for those black pants, when I manage to find some with no latex/spandex, usually at LLBean or Lands'End, I buy two or three . . . to account for laundry timing. I love your replacing a weapon with a flute, as we should all do.

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  21. Your impulse bought objects are divine. My husband's wedding present was a Navajo flute for just the reasons you cite. Heres' Carlos Nakai playing one in Chama Canyon.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrluNutLNpc

    My biggest impulses happen when I'm food shopping. I walk into the shop for one thing and come out with a whole lot more. Meals aren't so much planned in our house as inspired by the day's wanderings in the shops.

    I also have a serious weakness for handmade textiles. Rugs, pottery and furniture in particular but that is relatively well constrained by need and budget. Still, that reasonably priced Acoma pottery wedding jug in the gallery outside Taos now resides in our china cabinet.

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  22. Can it still be called an impulse buy when you're always on the lookout or a unique item that speaks to you? Hahaha! Actually, I have to limit impulse buys these days because my house is simply full of special objects I adore. But, I do so love coming across a work of art that grabs me. Rhys, your black clay figure and that he's holding that special flute. I had been good about not buying item the last couple of years, especially since I didn't go anywhere to run into these must-have treasures. However, love will find a way. I came across the Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales figurine made by Rye Pottery (England) on Etsy. It is a nice size depiction of the Lady of Bath on her horse, and I had to have it. I love the Canterbury Tales. I have a large print of some of the main pilgrims from the tale on their horses on their journey, so the figurine item got my attention. Then, I did some research on Rye Pottery and enjoyed reading its history and tradition. They have some more Canterbury Tales figures, but, as I noted earlier, my house is already in overload shape. One of my long ago impulse buys that I love is a large print of an elephant I bought in Atlanta. It hangs in my dining room, and it favorite still.

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  23. I still regret once NOT acting on impulse - on a first trip to Paris we spotted a poster we LOVED in a gallery and decided to wait to buy until we passed through Paris again at the end of the trip, not realizing that would be mid August when everything in Paris shuts down. It was a turn of the century VERY large poster with migrating flamingos and I've never even been able to find it online or anywhere. I've looked. :-(

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  24. I’m an impulse buyer of experiences rather than stuff so I’m the sort who will spring for a helicopter ride around Oahu. I am a collector of adventures rather than stuff which is good because my house is petite.

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  25. The item I most regret not buying was a tiny ivory Kama Sutra figure in an antique warehouse in Clare Suffolk UK. At the time £95 was more than I could justify. Now of course you can’t buy ivory and I‘ve never seen another piece like it. That taught me if I love something buy it!

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