Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I recently got a SWAG catalog in the mail. Swag stands for “Stuff/Shit We All Get.” If you have a business you get solicitations from all sorts of swag companies who want to print you company name on just about anything for you to give away.

You have more than likely accumulated a lot of swag in your lifetime. Key chains, hats, cups, T-shirts, pens… I can say swag items have never got me to buy or support any company that I wasn’t already supporting.

Some companies hand out some really nice swag. Go into a doctor’s office and see all the swag the pharmaceutical companies dole out. You will see clocks, clipboards, boxes of tissues.

Hotels have swag, I always take the scratch pads, but I leave the pens, the conditioner and the shampoo. I will take the moisturizer if it smells nice. Red Lion Hotels have this lime and ginger stuff that smells really good.

My favorite piece of swag is an Air France pocket knife, which I can no longer take on planes. Another is a pencil that was made from recycled denim from the Portland Water Bureau. And no, I've never flown on Air France or been a customer of the Portland Water Bureau.

Some people can’t get enough swag. Some people go overboard and take everything that isn’t nailed down. I knew one woman who would take coasters from every bar we ever went to. She would take all the artificial sweeteners from the table. I had another friend whose grandmother loved swag, so she went out and collected stuff for a year. On her grandmother’s 80th birthday he present was a box full of all sorts of free stuff and samples and general swag. Her grand mother was delighted and spent the rest of the week filling her canisters, salt shakers and catsup bottles with all the free stuff.

I’ve become swag resistant. I can go to a conference or a convention and come away with nothing these days. I was recently at a thing put on by a vendor and they gave all the participants a very nice writing tablet and a stylish pen. As soon as I left the session I gave it to an obvious swag collector. It was nice but it was something I’d never use and it would eventually end up as land fill. I already have too many things I don’t and will never use. I still have swag from my childhood.

I’ve come to realize that I already have too many pens I don’t like or use. I’m real picky about my writing instruments. I don’t like hats or T-shirts that advertise anything. I will take home horse grooming products from horse expos from time to time. I like swag that can be used up and not the made in China plastic crap that you just throw away when you realize there is no use for it.

There is something in us that dictates we take all things that are offered for free, but we really should learn to resist. Don’t become imprisoned by swag. It will just fill your junk drawers.


Blogger Donna said...

When I visit the state fair, I tend to pick up freebies I know I won't use. I will only use one kind of pen: black Papermate, medium point. It gripes me to have to use any other kind. Nothing else seems to flow so smoothly.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went for a few months washing my hair with motel freebies that had piled up in a bathroom drawer. Some of that is good stuff. On a slightly different note, I was grabbing a fast food drive through breakfast last Friday and noticed small cafe lattes offered free! (Here kid the 1st one's free) Imagine my chagrin when it turned out to be a very bad mocha. Yuck!

7:59 AM  
Blogger Chantel said...

I try not to ever take anything I won't use. My mother and sisters use to take everything that was free even if it was junk on the side of the street. Drove me nuts as a kid to be surrounded by junk and garbage. I'm such a snob.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Jaggy said...

Since I collect pencils (weird, I know, but practical and cheap), I pick up pencils from everywhere. Free is always the best price.

I'd rather wear a $3 perfectly-fitting logo-free black t-shirt with blue jeans any day over something with a bad logo.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous g said...

I used to work a few conventions.

Always made the rounds for SWAG for the kids. It was like dad went Christmas shopping.

SWAG is good.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We get SWAG at all of our conferences and I can't resist USB drives. I've got more than I need -- since they resist labeling. But I can actually use them.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

I'm with Jaggy. I'm a pencil fanatic. SH gets to go to tech conferences, and the swag there can be outstanding. We get all our t-shirts for the year from conferences and the best swag I got from the last one was this cool GWAVA mouse that lights up and has a cockroach floating in green water at the end of the mouse. I have used it almost constantly since SH brought it home. The bag I took my clothes to the gym in was swag also. We won't take stuff we won't use. He got some great notepads with covers on them this time as well. Memo cubes also have to last us for a year. We LOVE the swag!

11:13 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...


5:09 AM  
Blogger weese said...

I despise things with logos.
I will admit to having a couple of t-shirts with some writing on them - but these are for painting and gardening...and were not purchased but were my sons throwaways.
I will also admit to wearing my son's school logo ... but of course thats because he shops for us in the schools co-op.

12:44 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I'm becoming very plastic resistant.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous g said...

I need to attend more conferences. I had no idea one can get usb drives now. I'll trade you 2 coffee cups...

6:41 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

G, they are only $14 for 2gigs. You'll waste more fuel getting to and from.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does Jaggy get good fitting tee's for 3 bux? That's info I could USE!

1:11 PM  

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