Glad to be proven wrong

Less than three days after it launched, the Bistro cat feeder has cleared its US$100,000 goal. Congrats to them!

I’m still concerned about the potential shortcomings of the feeder, but clearly there are enough backers out there who think it’ll work for their cats, and that’s all that matters. Like I said before, we need more innovative projects like this, and fewer projects that are the same thing over and over again.

Case in point: thin “wallets”. Seriously, it’s amazing how many people think they’re the first ones to wrap some stretchy material around credit cards and call it a wallet. My friend Dustin has been doing that for years with a rubber band. Oh, or the people who have designed hard cases that fully “protect” your credit cards. I came up with that idea about 20 years ago, using a cassette-tape case with the pegs broken off. What’s that? Oh, right, you don’t know what cassette tapes are…

Personally, I need my wallet to be more than a tensor bandage wrapped around a piece of leather, and anyone who suggests you fold your money into thirds to tuck it into the tensor bandage is kind of missing the point of a wallet: convenient storage. If I had to take out a wad of folded bills, unfold them, count off the right amount, and then fold the remaining bills back into the “wallet”, then I’d probably just skip the wallet. No, I’d definitely skip the wallet.

I have a minimalist wallet: it’s called a money clip. It’s a single fold of leather that holds four cards, with a clip in the middle to hold money. The bills are pinched in the middle, so they’re tight and secure. However, you can also leaf through them and pull them out (or insert them) with ease. It’s ridiculously easy. This concept is not new, and very few of the crowdfunded wallets I’ve seen offer any improvements over it. If anything, they just make it less convenient to actually get at your money.

Even better, my money clip slid into a larger wallet with a full-length pocket and more card storage. I carried the full wallet for years, using the pocket to hold cheques and receipts, and just the clip when I didn’t need everything. Alas, the main part of the wallet has started to fall apart (though the money clip is still in great shape), and so I’ve recently retired it in favour of a slim wallet that’s an actual wallet: the Bellroy Note Sleeve.

I debated this wallet for awhile, not due to the expense but due to the choices. I’m fine with paying for a high-quality wallet…it’s something that I use almost every day, and I want to be happy with it. Rather, I was deliberating between the Note Sleeve and the more versatile Hide & Seek wallet. I initially leaned toward the Hide & Seek, because I liked how much stuff you could pack into it. However,I went with the more compact Note Sleeve in order to slim down my wallet’s profile as much as possible. Also, I was intrigued by the tabbed pocket in the Note Sleeve, and didn’t care as much for the Hide and Seek’s lengthwise fold.

One week in, I’m very happy with the purchase, both due to the product and the service. Bellroy is an Australian company, but they’ve gotten around import fees by having distribution centres in Canada. My wallet shipped from Calgary and arrived in less than a week.

Before making the purchase, I traded a few e-mails with their support team to ask about the dimensions of the wallets. In the first response, I was told that the dimensions would be up on the website soon. They weren’t kidding around, as the next day the dimensions were all up for every wallet they sell. Although, strangely enough I just looked again and the dimensions are gone again. Weird.

As for the wallet itself, it’s pretty great. Cards slip in and out with ease, but never feel like they’re going to fall out. The tabbed pocket to hold lesser-used cards works pretty well, and the leather is really nice to the touch. There’s a little pocket for holding a SIM card, but I don’t have any use for that since I don’t swap my cell phone’s chip. I’m not sure if that’s a bigger deal in other countries, so I don’t consider it a negative.

I’m not entirely sold on the hidden pocket for holding coins, for two reasons. First, it’s hard to get at, and you have to be careful to make sure the leather flap is fully tucked in on the corner closest to the seam, else it will crease. Also, I worry that carrying coins in the pocket will leave circular impressions in the leather.

The other thing is that I wish the bill pocket were just a tiny bit wider, because it’s a bit of an effort to wedge bills into it. That’s a minor concern, though, and I suspect it’ll ease up over time.

I debated between the tan and slate colours, and went with the former. I like the two-tone look, and I’ve already had black and brown wallets.

This wasn’t meant to be a wallet review, but I guess it’s turned out that way. The point is that minimizing bulk doesn’t require abandoning convenience. It just requires some attention to detail.

Russ