Meditations on an Inexpensive Laundry Basket

I’m down to a cost of 20¢ a year and falling.

Something people should know about me is that I’ve had one laundry basket for my entire adult life. If my obituary includes the line “He was the kind of guy who could use the same laundry basket for decades”, well, it will be an accurate reflection of who I am. Or was. Whatever. Just behold my basket, in all its graphite glory:

A simple (albeit holey) gray laundry basket

After I bring my clean laundry upstairs, I flip the basket upside to deposit my dry clothes on the bed for folding. Each and every time, the bottom of the basket catches my eye:

The bottom of a laundry basket

As the r/nostalgia sub-Reddit can tell you, “Yaffa Blocks” was a name brand for a particular kind of inexpensive storage solution. It seems the company also made laundry baskets. What I really notice, however, is the price tag:

A Linens N Things price tag, reading $3.99

$3.99 seems very inexpensive! My basket does date back to around the year 2001, but even an inflation-adjusted price would be just $6.71 today. Seems low!

Now sure, my humble basket is plenty scuffed, and it has one cracked corner:

A slightly cracked corner

But it’s a vessel for transporting toasty warm clothes approximately 50 feet. It does the job. It still works.

The price tag also lists the name of the store where this basket was purchased, and that’s a real throwback. “Linens ‘N Things” was a New Jersery-based big box retailer selling home goods, a competitor to “Bed Bath & Beyond”. You’ll notice I say “was”, because Linens ‘N Things went bankrupt in 2008. Less than a year later, all of their retail outlets were closed. Still, this price tag endures on the bottom of my basket.

In 2022, the Linens ‘N Things name lives on via an online-only store. Impressively, as the tag shows, the Linens ‘N Things website has been around for quite some time. Here’s a look at from around the time when this basket was purchased. It seems the company even had a privacy policy very early on:

Circa 2001, captured via the always-helpful Internet Archive Wayback Machine

In addition to being purchased from a New Jersey-based retailer, this basket was also made by a New Jersey-based manufacturer:

The Basicline logo

It appears “Basicline” was the company that owned the Yaffa trademark, and also I guess that they made at least 11 products. You may notice that I am once again using the past tense. Alas, like Linens ‘N Things before it, Basicline is no more. In 2010, they filed for their own Chapter 11. Further, per Wikipedia, Linens ‘N Things’ current parent company Sequential Brands sought bankruptcy protection last fall.

Given all these bankruptcies, I’m beginning to think that even back in 2001, this product was underpriced. $3.99 was simply too low to charge for a product which would go on to serve me well and faithfully for 20+ years and counting. In life, you have to know your value, and charge accordingly.