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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Pack Rats

It is not just stamps and coins anymore. Some people are born collectors. They get hooked on something and eventually end up with a large collection. These collections are usually valuable and some are worth a lot of money, while others just hold sentimental value.
Most Aggies in College Station are familiar with the infamous beer collection. In Aggieland, a beer collection ranges from a pyramid of cans to neon signs.
A common myth is that beer collectors are mostly college students.
Michael P. Soroka, a sociologist at the University of San Diego, found that the majority of beer collectors are college graduates with household incomes of $35,000 or more.
Most of these professionals describe themselves as “persons who like to drink beer.”
These collectors are not driven by the profit motive, but invest a lot of money in their beer collection.
Brett Davis, a sophomore recreation, park and tourism sciences major, collects race T-shirts. He has more than 80 souvenir T-shirts from races he has run in.
All runners receive the T-shirts when they compete in a race, so Davis decided to start saving the T-shirts. He has T-shirts from 5Ks, 10Ks and several longer races.
“I don’t wear them because I don’t want to get them messed up,” Davis said. “When I run in a race, I just take the shirt and hang it up in my closet at my parents’ house.”
The most interesting T-shirt in Davis’ collection, he said, is from the Millennium Marathon in New Zealand. It was the first marathon of the new millennium.
Davis also has a T-shirt from a 100-mile race he ran at Huntsville State Park.
Erica Walther, a senior kinesiology major, collects all kinds of memorabilia. Her main collections consist of coasters, elephant figurines, high-heels figurines and crystal balls.
The coasters she collects are the cardboard coasters commonly seen in restaurants and bars. Walther started collecting coasters when she saw a bar that used them to decorate the walls and ceiling.
She has coasters from as far away as Germany and Mexico.
“The coasters symbolize places I’ve been or people collect them for me,” Walther said.
Walther’s collection of elephants started in high school. The elephant figurines are usually gifts and she plans to use them to furnish a jungle-theme room someday.
“I started collecting elephants before I knew they had anything to do with A&M,” Walther said. “Now they just mean that much more to me.”
Her collection of high-heel figurines started when she was seven years old. She has high heels made out of soap, glass and porcelain.
The most special item in this collection is an antique high-heel figurine her great-grandmother gave her when she was in the second grade.
Walther and her mother have a hobby of collecting crystal balls together, she said. The crystal ball must be clear and completely round with no flat side.
The most they have ever spent is $50 for a crystal ball. Crystal balls can cost as much as $300, Walther said.
“I guess I’m just a collector at heart,” Walther said. “I can’t explain why I collect these things. I just do.”
Collectors’ motives are hard to decipher. Most cannot explain their need for these material objects.
Dr. Wendy Wood, a psychology professor at A&M, said people can pursue material things for self-serving reasons or for a personal indication of competence and success.
Some people collect things to impress other people, Wood said. Collectors may use these material possessions to compare themselves to others or to overcome self doubt. These are negative motives for collecting.
The positive motives behind collecting include pride, security and freedom, Wood said. Collectors also may pursue material things to support their family.
When people attain material things for the wrong reasons, it can be unfulfilling, Wood said. On the other hand, if collectors have the right motives behind their pursuit, the search can provide happiness.

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