I regret the dumb stuff I bought during the pandemic

During the darkest moments of lockdown, people went wild shopping online, stocking up on gear for a random hobby or hunting down expensive ingredients to master a special meal at home — anything to spark joy.

But now, with vaccines on the horizon and brighter days ahead, those same eager purchasers are seeing their stockpiles in a new light. Mountains of pantry staples went unused; pricey exercise equipment feels like another thing taking up much-needed space.

For Josephine Zohny, the barrage of depressing news last April led her to splurge on a $320 liquor order from Drizly. The problem? She rarely drinks.

“I was reading the news and suddenly became overwhelmed with the urge to buy alcohol,” said the 36-year-old publicist from Ridgewood, Queens. Months later, she’s reassessing her barely touched stash of about 10 kinds of booze, including “a pink gin — only because it was pink — and some kind of artisanal-hipster rum.”

She said she still can’t quite understand why she felt like she needed it. “It was all anxiety — I don’t know what came over me.”

Tatiana Hernandez scrolls through Instagram at night, when her defenses are down, and orders “pretty things.” Her most egregious COVID-era purchase was the “Oklahoma!” soundtrack on vinyl, which she scored from an account that sells vintage wares. Unfortunately, said the 26-year-old, “I don’t have a record player, so it sort of lives in my dresser.” 

Other unused deliveries include a makeup brush cleaner — “I didn’t need it” — and a pair of sky blue Gucci slides. Even though they were on sale for $260 over Black Friday, “I wore them once. They were kind of unnecessary.” Recently, she bought a $240 Mason Pearson hairbrush, endorsed by a favorite influencer — even though she doesn’t use a brush on her curly hair.

The web developer living in Salt Lake City admitted that shopping gives her a sense of accomplishment — especially while stuck in the house during the pandemic.

“It feels so satisfying when I’m able to find a deal on something I’ve been eyeing,” said Hernandez.

That instant satisfaction is what Rosana Smith was looking for when she made a decision to get bangs in November.

“I wanted to do something spontaneous,” said the 25-year-old clinical research coordinator.

Her makeover made its straight-from-the-salon debut on Instagram — and the regrets kicked in almost immediately afterward, when the style turned “noodle-y” in the humid Miami heat. What’s more, the “nightmare” look required a daily blow-dry, which was too much upkeep for the “wash and go” gal.

Also unexpectedly high-maintenance?

New Jersey mom Caren Begun’s 13-foot above-ground pool. Like many, she sprang for the pool after COVID halted summer plans.

“It ended up being a huge headache,” said Begun, 49, who lives in Cherry Hill. “Our ground wasn’t completely flat,” she said, adding that the tilt let algae and bacteria proliferate.

After buying it for $400 in May, she said her family barely used it, and she sold it for $50 “just to get it out of [my] sight.”

Now, they’re waiting for the grass to grow in in the spot where it sat in the backyard. But the worst part, Begun said, is that, “my husband has a reason to say ‘I told you so,’” because he never wanted it in the first place.

“It was definitely a frivolous, not-thought-out purchase,” she said.

Elizabeth Chan had big dreams for her tortilla press, which she bought for $50 at the beginning of the pandemic when she found a “dearth” of tortillas in the supermarket with “no Mexican restaurants open.” 

“We had nothing else to do — we were going to make tortillas, just like in the restaurant. So I bought a bag of masa and a tortilla press,” said Chan, a recording artist and mom of two in the Financial District.

Instead, “It’s been around and annoying us for the whole year. I will be celebrating the tortilla press’ 1-year-old birthday soon and haven’t yet taken it out of the box.”

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