Someone sent me a an email recently, and I’m sure the answer he got wasn’t the one he was expecting: “Why don’t you make up t-shirts for sale?”, he asked. “You could put quotes from your books on them, some of the cover art, etc. I’ll bet they’d do well.”
Why not, indeed?
I’ll admit it’s an enticing prospect. There are lots of folks in the self defense and preparedness communities who have clothing lines and, if what they tell me is true, those products account for a not-insignificant amount of money in their pockets. More than a decade ago I did, in fact, did have a small Cafepress store where I sold some humorous revolver-themed shirts, but never felt entirely comfortable with the venture and didn’t go very far with it.
It’s not that I don’t like money, mind you; in fact, I’m rather fond of the stuff. And it’s not that I don’t appreciate the branding potential and getting my name in front of more people. I do, because it might enable me to sell more books and workshops — which are actually useful, as they both help people and provide me with the means to continue putting out great information.
So what’s stopping me from selling you a t-shirt?
Money for nothing
I’ve always maintained that I’d never recommend or sell a product that I myself wouldn’t buy. I’ve been asked to promote a bunch of products, and in almost every case I’ve turned them down because I wouldn’t spend my own money on them. It’s an integrity thing; how can I ask someone else to buy something I personally don’t use?
If you see me recommending a product, it’s because after careful consideration I’ve reached into my wallet to acquire it and am satisfied enough to continue to use it. (I’ve bought a lot of things which didn’t measure up, and I don’t promote them either!)
Those items sold for the purpose of showing off a brand are the kind of things I personally don’t buy and won’t own. I refuse to pay money to advertise for others. If I don’t do it myself, why would I ask you to?
No one needs more junk in their lives
I firmly believe that everyone could do with owning less stuff. Stuff clutters our houses, lives, and minds; getting rid of excess stuff, focusing on what is truly useful and personally valuable, is the best way I’ve found to boost my own happiness level. As a result I don’t collect swag from trade shows or manufacturers, nor do I have their logo apparel in my closet. I neither need nor desire any of that, and so I don’t have it in my life.
Of course I don’t expect you to embrace this minimalist ethos just because I do — in fact, I expect some ridicule to come my way once this gets out in public — nor will I judge you if you don’t. But my personal integrity compels me to practice what I preach, and I don’t want to squander the earth’s resources manufacturing and selling things that I wouldn’t have in my own home. I also don’t want to entice others to spend their life’s energy on things they really don’t need any more than I do. My conscience just won’t let me.
Which is why you can’t buy t-shirts here. I hope you’re not too disappointed.
P.S.: If you want to spend your money on something useful, might I suggest one of my informative books? You’ll be buying something you can use to improve your safety and your life — and most of them are available in both print and space-saving electronic editions!
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