20 Years Ago I Bought a Wallet

I’d never spent more than twenty bucks on a wallet. Most wallets were made of nylon or faux leather that wore out after a year. For a while I carried around a neon green wallet that had a large zipper. My friends hassled me because it looked like a fanny pack you’d find at Disneyland. 

My wallet is the one item I carried everywhere I went. Cash was still king so keeping enough on hand when I went out with friends was important. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I opened my wallet 15 to 20 times at day. When it wasn’t in my pocket, it was in my hands. For something I relied on so many times a day, I gave little thought to the quality or durability of materials. I didn’t know the difference between a cheap and high quality model. 

When I finished college and moved to Seattle, I decided it was time to graduate to a wallet made of real leather. A friend of mine owned a briefcase that looked sharp, so I asked him who made it. The name of the leather company was one I’d never heard before: Ghurka.

I had no idea how to pronounce the name, but the woman working at the accessories counter at Nordstrom was able to decipher what I wanted. I told her I wanted a lot of room to carry my license, credit cards and various frequently traveler cards. She listened and eventually pulled a wallet from behind the glass case: The Leather Classic Wallet #101. It was tan leather, had plenty of room, and was a huge upgrade from my neon monstrosity. 

I held the wallet in my hand, and it felt just right. It was the perfect size. Not too flimsy, not too stiff. The leather had a nice texture too. And it smelled a lot better than fake leather! 

The only problem? Ghurka leather is expensive, and this wallet was no exception at $150. 

I ended up purchasing the wallet that day back in 1997. 

A few months ago I passed the Ghurka down to my son. I’ve had some of the stitching redone, but the wallet looks as good as ever. Today it’s a much darker shade of tan, and it shows the personality and character marks that come from twenty years of daily use.

At less than $8 a year, I consider one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. 

What have you purchased that seemed expensive at the time, but today feels like a wise decision?