Welcome back to What’s In Your Cart, where we ask noteworthy creators, athletes, and celebrities about their favorite products, their shopping habits, and their deal hunting acumen. If you or someone you know would like to be featured, shoot an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “What’s In Your Cart.”
This week, we traded emails Maurice Cherry, host of the podcast Revision Path, episodes of which reside in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture permanent archives. Other projects of Maurices’ include the Black Weblog Awards, 28 Days of the Web, The Year of Tea, and the design anthology RECOGNIZE. He was also honored by our sister site in 2018's The Root 100.
The Inventory: Do you consider yourself a deal hunter? Do you wait for deals on products that you already decided to buy, or do you buy most products because you saw a deal?
Maurice Cherry: I consider myself a deal hunter when it comes to big ticket items, mostly. Whenever I see things I want, I save it in a bookmarks folder in my browser, and at the end of the month (or the end of the year), I’ll treat myself to something on that list...if I still want it. Online shopping makes it way too easy to impulse buy, so I try to delay that gratification a bit by saving a link to that product and then looking at it days or weeks later and see if that want is still there.
The Inventory: What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?
Maurice Cherry: When I redecorated my apartment earlier this year, I was hunting down deals like a pig roots for truffles. I was especially proud of my new couch, which I initially saw at Design Within Reach for an obscene price. Found a dupe on sale at Macy’s for a fifth of the price. I’m definitely proud of that.
The Inventory: What’s your favorite place to shop online? How about in person?
Maurice Cherry: I’m a big fan of Japanese stationery, so JetPens gets my money regularly. Also, I found this really great place last year in Philly called Omoi Zakka Shop, which is just a perfect Venn diagram of so many things I love...and they have an online shop! So when I’m in Philly, I’ll go in person; otherwise, I’m buying through the website. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Amazon because...it’s Amazon. I’ve scaled back on my shopping from there, but it’s tough man. It’s so conveninent! I’ve even got Amazon Prime delivered to my hotel room when traveling!
The Inventory: What’s the biggest purchase you’ve ever made online? Was it worth it?
Maurice Cherry: Ooh...probably the couch I mentioned earlier. And what’s odd about that is that I went to a lot of stores and got my Goldilocks on by sitting and laying on a bunch of furniture. Then I went home, saw this one on sale, and bought it immediately. When you know, you know. (And yes, it was worth it!)
The Inventory: What’s something you bought recently that really exceeded your expectations?
Maurice Cherry: Some Raycon wireless earbuds. I’ve went through my fair share of other wireless earbuds and they just do not stay in my ears. These fit perfectly, sound great, actually have tactile controls (not that touch panel mess), and they were on sale! I saw them advertised in a YouTube video.
The Inventory: On the flipside, what was the worst purchase you’ve made recently? Anything you had to return?
Maurice Cherry: A gaming chair from Drop. It came in a box that looked like it survived an IED blast, and one of the main components of the chair was broken. I tried to return it, but Drop’s customer service was a pain in the ass, and so was the customer service at the chair’s manufacturer, so I ended up having to trash it. Luckily enough, the junk removal guy who came and picked it up said he would take it home and fix it, so I didn’t feel bad about letting it go. I chalked it up to charity.
The Inventory: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Maurice Cherry: This is really sappy, but when I won the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary last year from AIGA, Gail Anderson bought me a black 9" strongbox from Best Made Co. It might seem like a random gift, but I use this thing ALL. THE. TIME. I’ve picked up more 22-gauge steel boxes and trays from them since then, but this gift really meant something because not only was it from one of the most treasured designers of our lifetime, but it’s a true keepsake. It’s the kind of thing you should only put your rarest of items in.
The Inventory: I’m curious about your podcasting setup. Walk us through some of the gear you use to produce Revision Path.
Maurice Cherry: My techncial setup is pretty lean these days. I have a Shure SM7B mic on a Rode PSA boom arm. This connects to a Cloudlifter CL-1, which then goes into my Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 audio interface, and then into my computer (a custom-build HP OMEN gaming PC).
For headphones, I have a pair of beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm studio headphones, and for software, I use plain ol’ Skype for calls, and I use MP3 Skype Recorder to grab both audio tracks. (I also record my own audio locally via Audacity.) It’s not the most advanced setup, but it’s stable, produces great sound, and it works. I also use Trello, Book Like a Boss, and Google Docs for general podcast scheduling and show organization, but overall, my setup is pretty achievable and affordable.
The Inventory: In your Lifehacker interview last year, you mentioned a graphic novel you were working on. How is that coming, and what products are you using when you work on it?
Maurice Cherry: It’s...coming. I just released an anthology of design writing with InVision entited RECOGNIZE, so that’s taken up a good bit of my year already. I plan on regrouping and hitting the graphic novel project hard in 2020. New decade, new determination.
The Inventory: Do you like to collect credit card points when you shop? What are your go-to cards?
Maurice Cherry: I’m so uninformed on the points game — I tend to go for cash and Delta SkyMiles over points. I have a Platinum Delta SkyMiles from American Express that I use primarily for travel, and I get SkyMiles from my Lyft and Hyatt accounts as well. I do use my Amazon Prime Store Card a lot for the cashback, and it’s accepted by more online retailers than just Amazon! If they use Amazon Pay, you can use the Amazon Prime Store Card — it’s brilliant. I’ve also got a Discover card and an Ally CashBack credit card. I’ve probably got too many cards, but they’re used in a healthy rotation.
The Inventory: What are three items that you couldn’t live without?
Maurice Cherry: A pen or marker with really good ink, a blank notebook, and free time. My pen (and ink) of choice are both from uni-ball, with a needle tip because I tend to write very small in my notes sometimes or use it for sketching. Any blank notebook works for me, though I have a stack of Moleskines at home which are collecting dust.
The Inventory: What’s something you buy a lot of that might seem strange to an outside observer?
Maurice Cherry: Morning Thunder by Celestial Seasonings. I buy 6 boxes at a time, every month, without fail. Also, chocolate Belvita breakfast biscuits, because you gotta have something to dunk in the tea. It’s my morning ritual when I start my work day.
The Inventory: Are there any items that you want to buy, but just can’t pull the trigger on? Anything you keep abandoning in your cart?
Maurice Cherry: That’s a great question. Generally, I don’t have any hesitation around buying most things because there’s generally a return policy, so if I don’t like it or if it doesn’t fit, then I can return it. The one thing I always hem and haw over are plane tickets. I’m a big dude, so I want to know the make and model of the plane, the seat width...you name it. I need to be comfortable, because we all know plane travel these days is an exercise in patience even for the most frequent travelers. And even if you get the seat you want, there’s so many other variables that can turn it into a hellish trip. You can’t really get a refund if your seatmate’s farting up a storm or the flight attendant is snippy with you, so whenever I’m buying plane tickets, I do my research, plunk down my credit card, and hope for a good flight. I’ve even got a whole plane ritual to make sure I’m in my happy place by the time the plane takes off.
The Inventory: What are the last three items in your Amazon order history?