This is an archived article that was published on in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

My name is Tom, and I like to shop.

That statement might keep me out of the Guys Hall of Fame, if such an institution exists.

Shopping is a major part of an enjoyable travel experience whether visiting rural parts of the U.S., foreign countries or out-of-the-way Utah towns. My tastes might be called eclectic or even eccentric.

In buying gifts for others or a souvenir for myself, the key is finding a connection between the purchase and the place.

A T-shirt, for example, is a pretty typical souvenir. When I buy one, it has to have a certain meaning.

On a recent trip to Vancouver, I went to a store inside Stanley Park next to the famous totem poles. My "totem" animal is the raven, which is known as an intelligent trickster (I figure one of two isn't bad). So I bought an artistically decorated raven shirt.

My home is decorated with things that tell stories.

I know the Navajo woman who wove my rugs because I visited her at her home on the reservation. Her sheep are the color of my rugs.

I use beer glasses purchased in Belize and Germany. A miner's lamp I bought at an English antique shop reminds me of my grandfather who lived there. Tiny carved birds obtained in Patagonia symbolize a trip that added 35 birds to my life list.

Some souvenirs reflect a certain collector's fetish.

I once examined a teen's collection of toilet paper from different European countries. My cousin collects matchbooks from around the world. I buy a pen from nearly every place I visit and then use and usually lose it. There is no logical explanation for this.

Sports events also figure into buying binges.

My den is filled with souvenirs from University of Utah bowl games. If I attend a major league baseball game, chances are I'll come home with a cap, pen or T-shirt.

Factory tours also provide opportunities to buy what my mother likes to call "useless junk."

I can't take a brewery tour without buying a bottle opener that I will never use. The leather Harley cell phone holder I bought in Milwaukee sits in the bottom of a drawer. I own a pair of black and silver police socks found on sale at a factory in Logan. The bottoms ask: "Got donuts?"

Many seem able to justify spending outrageous sums on items when on vacation that they would never consider doing at home. Of course, how can you pass up a $25 "Rolex" watch in Mazatlan?


* TOM WHARTON can be reached at His phone number is 801-257-8909.