I was thinking the other day, as I occasionally do, about the phrase “quality over quantity.” This saying is useful when describing friends or hours spent studying or blog posts, but it is not always true. Sometimes quantity can be more important than quality.
For example, let’s consider Fred. Fred wants to start a sock business. He has scoured the globe for the perfect sheep with the softest, most unscratchy wool. He’s searched oceans and galaxies, talked to wise wizards and wise librarians, searched under rocks and inside the bellies of various beasts. After many years of humiliating fruitless searching and exhaustion, Fred finally did it. He found the perfect sheep.
He spent months in isolation, knitting away as the clock’s hands spun until he had created the most perfect, wonderful sock. It was the softest, the most breathable, the comfiest sock in existence. The quality was brilliant.
However, Fred only had enough wool to create one sock. Only a sad half of a complete pair. There simply weren’t enough socks to start a business. As there was only one magic sock in existence, Fred could sell it at an outrageously high price if he so wished, but he did not so wish. Through the years spent devoted to the creation of this sock, Fred had grown quite attached to it and he couldn’t bear to sell the love of his life to be worn on some random geezer’s stinky foot.
And so Fred had wonderful quality, but his lack of quantity led to a failed sock business.
Fred did, however, have a business-minded younger sister, Bethy. Bethy and Fred were always competing as children for their parents’ love. So while Fred spent years failing to find a sheep, Bethy took the opportunity to be better than her brother. She was going to start a successful sock business that would make her brother look even more incompetent in comparison.
Bethy’s socks didn’t have nearly as much care put into them as Fred’s sock did. Bethy business plan was to sell her socks at an absurdly low, low price so people would compulsively purchase them. In order to make them at such a low price, Bethy had to be clever. Instead of using wool, she used dandelion fluff. People paid her to weed their lawns and then she used those same dandelions to make her socks, which the same people later purchased. She also hired highly trained mice instead of people to make her socks because mice accepted cheese as payment.
Bethy’s socks weren’t of the highest quality. Her customers often complained of the socks being too fragile to wear and smelling oddly like rodent. But her customers’ contentment didn’t particularly concern her as long as they continued to purchase her socks.
And so Bethy had poor quality, but she did have quantity and a successful sock business, unlike Fred.
Now the question is, was there a point to this whole rambling story? No, not particularly. But it was fun to write.