Last Exit Journal

Why is this so expensive?! - The Case for "Cost-Per-Use"

Why is this so expensive?! - The Case for "Cost-Per-Use"

 I don't do quite as many pop-up retail shows anymore as I did in the early years of Last Exit. But there is nothing like being there in person to watch people engage with your handiwork. I absolutely love it.

Over the years, I've found that most people who engage with us understand the handcrafted, American-made effort - and that our goods are priced higher than a similar-type product they might find somewhere on the internet. Setting a retail price for any of my products is something that I take quite seriously. I work hard to understand my true costs of goods, the labor and the overhead needs of the business in coming to said price - and thankfully enough people have agreed to that value proposition for themselves, or I wouldn't be here.

Still - there's a rare day when I get someone who wants to understand how I could possibly charge $70 or $80 for a small wallet? In-person retail is really the only time when I've encountered such questions ... online customers don't often take the time to engage in semantic debate over pricing via email. 

It's not that I don't think it's a fair question, it's that I think the metric that someone might use to come to that question might need some further examination.

In my estimation, someone is really only looking at the pure cash outlay at purchase - $70 is not a small amount of money certainly, and one could do a lot of things with it. One might even argue they could buy a few wallets with that sum (likely without care towards country of origin?). So the thinking might be - I'd rather have a cheap wallet and use the extra $50 towards something that I value more. Totally fair.

I don't know who to credit this to, but I heard a different metric for consumerism a while ago that I thought was interesting: cost per use.

The idea, of course, is that hopefully there's a linear correlation with value and length of use. Kind of like a long-term investment. Can you buy something cheap from the internet and have it still last a long time? Do you derive enjoyment from quality items, even for things you only use or wear a few times? 

I started doing some math in my head, and I thought it was a fun enough exercise that I thought I'd make a post to explore the idea using some estimations for different things we use daily, comparing their costs against average useful life (per use).

There are assumptions made below. As an example, even though I have been carrying my own personal Last Exit wallet for over 9 years, I'll try and shoot low and say that an average use is 5 years to get to the calculation. I also make the assumption that wallets are used daily, where you might only wear blue jeans 3-4 times a week?

 Product # of Uses Retail Cost Cost per use
Last Exit Animas Wallet 1825 days $69 $0.04
A craft beer at a bar single use $8 $8
Designer Blue Jeans (USA made) 500 days $250 $0.50
Ski Boots 75 days $900 $12.00
Pair of Nike Running Shoes 100 runs $160 $1.60
Vuori Workout Shorts 624 days $68 $0.11
Polarized sunglasses 365 days $150 $0.41
Laptop Computer 936 days $1,000 $1.07
Dress Suit (speaking for me) 15 times $1,500 $100


These are purely estimates; obviously your mileage will vary, but I thought it was an interesting way to think about value and how we mark certain things we use as a commodity (something where quality doesn't really increase its value to us, necessarily) like a cup of coffee or a charging cord. And there are things where we tend to feel ok with the value of spending more for quality or perceived personal enjoyment. I guess for my argument, it all depends on how you think about your wallet - is it a commodity, or is it something that you derive enjoyment out of using daily?

If you do your own calculations on things you own - what surprises you using this metric?


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