The weirdest things Philly buys shopping while drunk

Inebriated purchases are a $45 billion industry.

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Pomeranians have one of the longest lifespans of any breed. The one loved by Philly resident Joe and his wife spent 18 years as a member of the family. Good thing the critter couldn’t have known how close it came to ending up elsewhere.

Where did Joe pick up his cherished pooch? A failing pet store — which only scored the impulse purchase because Joe was under the influence.

“The Gallery [Mall] had just opened and my wife and I were walking around Center City,” he recalled. “We had already had a few drinks when we came upon a pet store going out of business.” They went in to find two dogs for sale, $50 each. Joe tried to make a deal — $75 for both — but the shop owner turned him down. Instead, “we settled on the Pom and it was our dog for the next 18 years.”

Anyone who indulges in alcohol knows inhibitions + retail storefronts can be a dangerous combination for wallet health.

Billy Penn reader Scott is no exception. Like that one birthday where he was especially “drunken and sad,” and he wandered into a Kohl’s to buy…a diamond ring. “Because Kohl’s is so known for its fine jewelry?” he said.

In the age of easy online purchases, drunk shopping in the U.S. has reached new heights.

Americans spent an estimated $45 billion while intoxicated last year, according to global survey company Statista. The grand majority of that boozy buying power was directed toward Amazon, which was used by 85% of those polled. Runners up include eBay and Etsy.

Pennsylvanians are no slackers when it comes to tipsy spending, with residents shelling out $400 to $499 annually, according to the aforementioned report. That’s way lower than pack-leaders Kentucky (all that bourbon) and Connecticut (all that wealth?), while just slightly less than our neighbors in New Jersey, more than Ohio and about the same as New York.

What are we dropping that $450 on? Inspired by the Seattle Times, which asked readers in Washington to share their stories, we wanted to know what caught Philadelphians’ under-the-influence fancy. So we asked — and you delivered.

Stuff to munch on

Food is a no-brainer. BP reader Kylie once snagged herself a box of 24 chocolate bars from her native Australia. “When the box arrived, I thought they were a gift from someone else — I even called my mum to thank her. I guess they were a gift from drunk Kylie to sober Kylie,” she said.

Philly resident Grant, meanwhile, scored himself a giant bag of jawbreakers because he was “trashed” and reminiscing about the cartoon/video game Ed, Edd n Eddy, where the crunchy candy is the ultimate prize.

Reader Jacquelyn was just trying to make things easy for herself when she logged onto Amazon and ordered a giant toaster oven. She wanted to warm up pizza, she said, “but was too drunk to trust myself to use an oven.” (We’re pretty sure that slice got gobbled up cold instead of waiting for the delivery person a few days later.)

These sloshed scores sometimes have longterm effects, like the 12-pack of Annie’s mac ‘n’ cheese that an anonymous reader said they ordered after a night out in a new city and realized their cupboards were bare.

“Right before falling asleep I must have hit the order button, because two days later, I got home from work to find a giant box of mac and cheese.” It lasted. “Eight months later, I moved back to Philly and accidentally left behind half the shipment that I hadn’t gotten around to eating. I hope the next tenant liked shells and white cheddar!”

Stuff for admiring

Does the entire collectibles industry depending on drunken shoppers? Seems like a plausible theory, especially in light of some of the submissions readers sent in.

There’s the lifesize cutout of Kim Jong-il that reader Madeline purchased on eBay because she “thought it would be a nice touch” at her upcoming wedding. Unless she was drinking at Hop Sing Laundromat, which likes to call itself “The World’s Greatest North Korean Cocktail Bar,” that makes less sense than a perfectly reasonable (but probably super expensive) Eagles football helmet signed by Carson Wentz that reader Wendell paid for at a restaurant silent auction.

Billy Penn reader Scott said he absolutely does not regret the 5-foot-tall “fathead” doll he ordered in a Titos and Jack Daniels-fueled spree — even though it was of his friend’s profile pic, which he thought looked like a “smarmy realtor” when it showed up in his timeline. “Best $110 I’ve ever spent.”

Still hanging on the wall of reader Cyn’s Philly home is a 3-foot-by-4-foot painting of a matador from the 1970s. The acquisition story goes like this:

Tipsy at a Jinxed Fishtown art opening, Cyn picked up the painting for just $18. As the night evolved, they managed to carry the frame along to the El Bar, and then to Kung Fu Necktie. But the artwork never made it home, so then next morning they called to inquire about it.

Cyn: “I’m calling about a painting I forgot there the other night…”
KFN: “What does it look like?”
Cyn: “….”

(As if people leave paintings at the Front Street music dive on a regular basis. Which, to be fair, might actually be the case.)

Stuff for activities

It’s a well-documented fact that intoxicated people often misjudge their physical abilities.

Why else would reader Sam have bought multiple actual parachutes, including one over 50-feet wide? He was drunkenly planning a complicated prank on his wife, he explained, with whom he’d just bought a house: “It involved ‘falling’ off the roof.”

A Philly resident who goes by Franco once scored himself a pair of 19th-century replica whaling harpoons, while his friend Damien recounted picking up a full-size air hockey table, “with no way to transport it home from the store and no way to fit it in my basement.”

Reader Rachel ended up with a season’s worth of amusement when, in a moment of inebriated inspiration, she procured a bag of 12 dozen 4-foot-long squiggly balloons.

“It was a total surprise when they showed up in the mail,” she recalled. “I had a second floor porch in the trees in West Philly at the time, so my boyfriend and I spent a summer blowing them up and launching them at people as they walked by.”

Other toys BP readers acquired while blitzed include a 5-lb. bag of LEGOs and a remote-controlled mini helicopter. One person told us they went all in on a Shamwow (cleaning sounds more fun when you’re lit up?), while another decided to look inward.

“I bought an ancestry.com kit,” said a Twitter user going by D-Beis. How’d that genetic introspection work out? We may never know. The DNA discovery tool is apparently still in its original packaging.

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