Janae Thomas’ collection of pink cups include lilac, parfait ombre, petal landscape, pink flamingo and the coveted Starbucks x Stanley winter pink. (Courtesy Janae Thomas) Courtesy Janae Thomas
"This Is Uncomfortable" Newsletter

This is the Stanley tumbler economy

Janet Nguyen Feb 16, 2024
Janae Thomas’ collection of pink cups include lilac, parfait ombre, petal landscape, pink flamingo and the coveted Starbucks x Stanley winter pink. (Courtesy Janae Thomas) Courtesy Janae Thomas

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but we can’t stop thinking about those TikToks of collectors racing through Target to get their hands on an exclusive “Galentine’s collection” Stanley Tumbler. Marketplace reporter Janet Nguyen has done some reporting on the Stanley phenomenon. Here’s an excerpt.

Janae Thomas of Tampa, Florida, told us she’s amassed 37 Stanley Tumblers (not counting the ones that have yet to be delivered). She’s pretty sure she’s got every available shade of pink. 

“I think what attracts me to the Stanley cup is it’s a game of figuring out which ones I’m missing and then finding out where to buy them,” Thomas said. 

She’s not alone. The cups, originally designed for camping with a retail price up to $60, have been having an extended viral moment on social media and on resale platforms, translating into serious cash. 

A century-old thermos brand, Stanley reported $73 million in revenue in 2019. In late 2023, CNBC reported that the company was set to rake in $750 million for the year. 

“That kind of 10x growth over four years is absolutely astounding for a company that’s been around forever,” said Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, a digital creator and founder of the branding agency Forge. “Their growth is predominantly driven by this 40-ounce tumbler.” 

On StockX, the average resale price for a collab cup with musician Lainey Wilson is $260. Those Target-exclusive Galentine’s Starbucks tumblers? $223. 

Thomas told us she bought an ombre tumbler from eBay for about $115, and a lilac tumbler through Mercari for $240. The most she’s paid for a tumbler: $380, for a glass Stanley on Facebook Marketplace. 

Older Stanley cups can be rarer and command higher resale prices, Thomas said. 

“But the good thing is a lot of the people who have these OG cups have them because they’ve been collecting a long time. And at least in my experience, I’m starting to see they’re getting over it. It’s like the stock market. It’s like, OK, I’ve been doing this for five years, my $60 cup is in huge demand right now. I think that I can sell it for $200, even though it’s used.’ And so they’re much more likely to do it,” Thomas said.  

Of course, there are haters. While gawking at last month’s Target stampedes, Marketwatch called Stanley collecting “everything that’s wrong with America.” Others have fairly pointed out the irony in collecting a product that’s ostensibly meant to reduce waste.

Thomas said it’s a hobby, like collecting sneakers or Beanie Babies, adding that she’s able to comfortably afford all these tumblers. 

“Are there better things I could spend my money on? Absolutely. But am I taking out loans to afford Stanley cups? Absolutely not,” she said. “We all have our vices. … If I wasn’t making a financial decision to buy Stanley Cups, I’d be making a financial decision to buy an expensive purse.”

There’s more to this story, including information on spotting “dupes” and reseller return policies.

Defend your splurge

Money messes with all our lives, but sometimes the right purchase at the right time can make things a little better. Tell us how you’ve treated yourself lately, and we’ll include the best stories in our newsletter! This week one of our favorite economy reporters, Chabeli Carrazana at The 19th, shows off some meaningful ink.

We all probably had a pretty bad time in 2021, but it was one of my all-time worst years. I lost my grandfather to COVID-19 in January, then I had a miscarriage in April, followed by a second miscarriage in August. In September, my husband’s grandmother also died from COVID-19. I was in a terrible place. 

So in October, my husband and I traveled to Iceland. It’s a really special place for us, because it’s also where we got engaged. Three mystical, magical things happened on that trip: We happened to come across a wishing well for unborn children, where you could cast a wish if your dream, like ours, was to start a family. Then, we happened to drive under a perfectly formed double rainbow — in the world of pregnancy loss, your first child after experiencing a miscarriage is called a “rainbow baby.” And on the final day of our trip, we learned that the unofficial motto of Iceland is “Þetta reddast,” which roughly translates to “everything will turn out all right in the end.” I sobbed and sobbed learning that, and my husband suggested that if we ever were able to have our baby, that would make a great tattoo. 

Shortly after we returned from that trip, we got pregnant again. Our son, Jack, was born in the summer of 2022. A couple months later, he watched as we sat for our tattoos — mine on my right forearm, my husband’s in his inner right bicep. I don’t think the artist got the Þ quite right, and we paid $250 each for the tiny black script (please don’t tell me if I overpaid for this, the shop has a very strict return policy). But for us, it marked the end of that dark chapter. I look at it now, as I extend my arm to grab my son’s hand, and am reminded that there is power in persisting, especially when you can’t quite see the double rainbow yet.

The comfort zone

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