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How Do You "Get Away" With Buying LEGO?

Not sure if there's already a thread on this topic or if I'm even in the right category.

But as a TFOL, I've gotten more than a few weird looks from parents when I waltz into the local Target to pick up a set or two to beef up my collection. Some kids even run off when I walk into the LEGO aisle. So my question to other TFOL's is...
What is your preferred method for getting in and out of stores with LEGO without drawing too much attention to yourself? Of course this probably bothers some people less than others.

Personally I've started using the "it's for a sibling" approach and that works well enough.


  • catwranglercatwrangler Member Posts: 1,894
    I'm afraid I'm past the age when I can offer direct experience, but I hope other TFOLs respond.

    From what I remember, I think it's actually harder being a TFOL than an AFOL - as a teenager I never lost my interest in toys, and I remember one excruciating moment looking at X-Men action figures when a friend from school walked in, and I launched into this self-conscious spiel about how I was picking a present for "my little cousin"... ditto many, MANY self-conscious moments in the Lego section...
  • pasat14pasat14 Member Posts: 44
    Have never had to explain myself in a shop thankfully. When buying second hand locally though when i go to pick up i just say its for my kids (i dont have any...). I used to be honest but people looked at me so judgingly it just got annoying.... I'm a terrible liar though so i still wonder if they believe me!
  • DeeC2_JoshDeeC2_Josh Member Posts: 64
    Checkers can be pretty nosey sometimes. If you don't want any looks self checkout can be your friend
  • GoldchainsGoldchains Member Posts: 795
    edited August 2016
    I've been collecting toys for most of my adult life(starting in 1995-2003 with the POTF Star Wars action figures, then onto Transformers from around 2005-2010, and now Lego from 2011) and I've had many many people look at me funny. I remember one old guy asked me at the Lego store if the set was for me or for someone else and I said "all mine!" and ran out of the store. A lot of times though, I will see other collectors and say hello and talk with them. Probably the most uncomfortable store for me is Toys R Us, because the wife is wont to give me grief if I want to go there and all the parents/kids look at me like I'm a pedophile if I walk in alone. Any other store is usually pretty quiet.
  • CircleKCircleK Member Posts: 1,055
    I stopped buying toys as I became a teenager and didn't start buying them again until I was well into my 30s. I no longer purchased anything but I never lost my interest in them either. I pretty much visited the toy aisle everytime I was in a store. None of the girls I dated ever thought it was weird either that I know of. I remember one of them saying something along the lines of "all guys do this". So... Maybe it's not as uncommon as you think. 
  • MattDawsonMattDawson Member Posts: 1,486
    I used to worry about it, but nobody ever questioned it. Piece counts of the higher sets seems to indicate they're more complex and fancy and technical, even if they're not.

    Lego may have an age range, but to be honest aside from the lower limit (due to the risk of swallowing, etc) there's no reason for anyone to stop playing with Lego.
  • sonsofscevasonsofsceva Member Posts: 542
    Very interesting. I have never had this problem, even when buying a lot of LEGO sets on discount. As a teen, I worked at Target in toys and bought any sets that looked interesting. I never heard anything about it. Maybe I am just oblivious to others' looks.
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,779
    Sorry about the quality, but this sums it up pretty well for me:

  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,779
    In smyths I often have a staff member stand beside me  doing nothing -  just watching what I do with the cmf  packets. I'm always very tidy with returning packets to the display. I now just turn and ask them to hold the ones I've picked out already. Well they are there to do some work.
    Oh, that is great! :)
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 Member Posts: 1,431
    ^^ I like that one. 
  • Sethro3Sethro3 Member Posts: 995
    I felt weird about it when I got back into LEGO in 2011. I think most people do. But then you realize you're there buying a hobby, while someone else is over in the automotive section buying something and someone is in grocery and then you start noticing they aren't paying attention to you.

    An odd moment is when you are standing feeling CMF packets. I have tons of kids running around me, the parents are asking if this is the set they want, blah blah blah, but no one pays any mind to me (or they do and I don't pay mind to them..), but no one asks me anything and I don't care if they give me looks because I'm focused on finding the figure I want so I can get home. I don't want to stand there all day.

    I think ultimately I judge them more than me because I hear everything they say. "Timmy, wouldn't you rather have this set since it is a lower piece count/more your age range/has characters I think you should have..." One time,the mom said you have $x to spend. The boy grabbed something UNDER that price, the mom didn't want to buy it. She instead said hey what about this one! (which was MORE than what she offered to pay...odd)

    TL:DR version
    Be yourself, be happy with what you buy, enjoy your hobby. As long as you aren't buying the sets with ulterior motives, then you shouldn't have anything to be guilty about/worry about.
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,779
    ^ reminds me of when I was in TRU, I believe. I was busy feeling the packets for the final few to complete a set and a kid arrived with his mother in tow saying he was hoping he could get a 'x'. I was in full auto mode sifting through them, and found a copy of the one he wanted, and went "it's a x you want isn't it? Here. You can tell from the ___" and he was happy as larry, his mother was aghast I could tell without opening the packet.
    Great story, but time to educate an ignorant 'Merican. What the heck does "happy as larry" mean? (I know it means he was happy, but what does larry have to do with it?)
  • tallblocktootallblocktoo Member Posts: 497
    @SprinkleOtter  I was curious too.  This is what I found:
  • MattDawsonMattDawson Member Posts: 1,486
    Great story, but time to educate an ignorant 'Merican. What the heck does "happy as larry" mean? (I know it means he was happy, but what does larry have to do with it?)
    It's actually Australian - story goes an Australian boxer named Larry Foley retired after a final fight aged 32 in the 1870s for a vast sum of money and the newspaper headline was "Happy as Larry" after he won.
  • RebelegoRebelego Member Posts: 171
    The first time I bought a set as an adult, I picked up a cheap birthday card reading "Happy 8th Birthday!" or whatever. I was embarrassed. I don't care any more. Now, I always get "Would you like a gift receipt?" I just look at them deadpan and say, "No, they're for me." It usually works. The again, they won't look up at me after that. I'll run into some close friends at Target or Walmart and they know about my BL store. No biggy.
  • tallblocktootallblocktoo Member Posts: 497
    I was in a toy shop the other day looking at Lego. An adult male and female passed by presumably a couple.  He had noticed a particular set and mentioned something to her about buying it perhaps.  She responded by saying well its says for age 8-14 or whatever the range stated. He didn't appear to happy.  Ha I wanted to say something so badly!  

    Anyways  as stated buy what makes you happy!  Lots of folks have hobbies they are just different than yours.  Plus hang out here and the main page Brickset and you will be in fine company with folks of similar mindset as yours!  

  • wardmwardm Member Posts: 886
    @BrownRiceMafia I really understand what you mean by your question and I get that you're feeling awkward about buying stuff in stores. I think all the above tips are great and you'll probably feel better about it when you'd apply them! 
    But if you're still feeling awkward about it, maybe buying online would help?

  • ryjayryjay Member Posts: 1,001
    Wow, didn't ever think about it....and actually wasn't even aware it could be a problem for some.  Hmmm, I enjoy living in my vacuum of reality :)

    Help clarify one point....are we concerned about what the minimum wage clerks think or other people in the store around us as we buy?
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,787
    The 'trick' to getting in and out of a store with LEGO without drawing attention to yourself is to purchase it and not try to steal it. At least that is all the store will care about.

    Seriously though, eventually you will get to a certain age where you will not care what others think.
  • BrownRiceMafiaBrownRiceMafia Member Posts: 18
    TigerMoth said:

    But as a TFOL, I've gotten more than a few weird looks from parents when I waltz into the local Target to pick up a set or two to beef up my collection.
    You only get weird looks because you look weird - and I don't mean you look like a Martian. You look guilty, shifty and nervous; you're "up to something". It might be obvious, or just give people a subconscious feeling that something's not quiet right, and they simultaneously want to know what you're playing at and, at the same time, not get involved.
    Personally I've started using the "it's for a sibling" approach and that works well enough.
    A shop is there to sell things. If that's why you're there, and what you're buying isn't covered by some other sort of of restriction (like age limits on alcohol), then there is no reason to feel guilty or look shifty. Everybody has relatives and friends for whom they can be buying something and that's what most people will assume. If somebody doesn't, then the problem is theirs, not yours.

    The only person who knows the target of a purchase is you. If it's a legitimate purchase, there is no reason to feel guilty. If you don't feel guilty, you won't look guilty - and nobody will bat an eyelid.

    A lot of crimes are committed because the criminal can act normally. Fortunately, some people can tell the difference between an act and the real thing - but you wouldn't be acting.

    It's not really that I'm that self-conscious, and trust me, I act perfectly natural. I just think it's an interesting "challenge" for TFOL's and apparently some AFOL's, too. If anything this topic is just for fun.
  • BrownRiceMafiaBrownRiceMafia Member Posts: 18
    wardm said:
    @BrownRiceMafia I really understand what you mean by your question and I get that you're feeling awkward about buying stuff in stores. I think all the above tips are great and you'll probably feel better about it when you'd apply them! 
    But if you're still feeling awkward about it, maybe buying online would help?

    I think I might have overstated the "problem" in the original post. Like in my reply to TigerMoth, this is really more for fun stories, etc. then seriously addressing self-consciousness, etc.
  • BillyBricks84BillyBricks84 Member Posts: 355
    For the most part, I have gotten pretty used to standing in the LEGO aisle, although it did take me a few months to not feel out of place as I am a man standing by himself where generally only kids and their parents are hanging out.

    Unfortunately, I did have a moment recently when I chickened out with being completely fine with what I was doing: I went to a Walmart to get the Heartlake Hotel at 50% off, which would make it my first Friends set. I took it to the cashier, she rang it up, and as I was running my credit card, she said, "Girls sure do love these." I just nodded and finished paying. 
  • ricecakericecake Member Posts: 878
    its says for age 8-14 or whatever the range stated.
    This makes me wonder why they don't just say it's for ages 8+ instead of putting an upper limit on it. Even their boxes of bricks (e.g., #10696) has an age range of 4-99, implying that people 100 years old shouldn't be playing with them.
  • catwranglercatwrangler Member Posts: 1,894
    I'd imagine it's to make it easier for people who are buying a present for a kid but who aren't around kids that much - they might not have a clear idea of when children tend to age into or out of certain toys...
  • willobee498willobee498 Member Posts: 349
    Yeah, the realistic age range suggestion is more useful, but I sure do miss when it said "Ages X to 99"
  • tallblocktootallblocktoo Member Posts: 497
    @willobee498  Was that on all Lego packaging at one point?
  • GeordiePaulGeordiePaul Member Posts: 599
    @BrownRiceMafia Get yourself a four year old kid, they're great for getting in and (eventually) out again with a good haul. The only trouble is talking him out of sets that he wants that you're not interested in without looking like an awful dad. Pros and cons I suppose.
  • HugeYellowBrickHugeYellowBrick Member Posts: 496
    Have a look around. There may be other TFOLs there who would like to be friends.

  • GeordiePaulGeordiePaul Member Posts: 599
    edited August 2016
    And way back when I actually was a teen in the 80's and early 90's I was so oblivious to other people laughing at me and thinking it was weird I still bought toys that I didn't notice/care. And if I felt self conscious I would definitely tell my younger self not to give two hoots about what other people said. As others have said, do what makes you happy and brings you joy. Life is too short to be worried about such matters :-)
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    People laugh at other people having fun, essentially because they're jealous but simply haven't got the guts to do it themselves.
  • CurvedRoadPlateCurvedRoadPlate Member Posts: 257
    Join a LUG. Go with other like minded AFOLs or TFOLs. Shopping for Lego is even more fun when you do it with others. 
  • matticus_bricksmatticus_bricks Member Posts: 651
    No longer a teen, but when I was the only time a person ever paid me any attention was in line at checkout. The woman ahead pf me turned around and said she thinks it's great that I'm still buying Lego. Not what I expected at all!
    I had a similar experience as well! I struck up a conversation with a mom who was shopping for her son in the Lego aisle, and after explaining my hobby to her, she complimented me and said it was good that I have a way to creatively express myself. 

    As others have said, don't be afraid to be proud of yourself and your hobbies. And I also find it helps to be friendly to others. I'll always help people find specific CMFs. 
  • KeyboardKafeKeyboardKafe Member Posts: 5
    edited August 2016
    Maybe a bit late too the party, but as an AFOL (I turned 18 just three weeks ago, actually!) who was not too long ago a TFOL, I live in a somewhat small community. I can almost guarantee seeing someone of my neighborhood when I go out to get a set. I can recall one experience where I was feeling up a Simpson's CMF when a girl at my school came walking down the aisle- and I flung the CMF (I assume it was Maggie) into the bin so fast that it made a loud sound. Yeah, I was red as a beet.

    While I would like to say I am comfortable with my hobby of being a LEGO Enthusiast, I will be honest in saying that sometimes I'm a bit embarrassed because of how my peers have treated me about it in the past. So here is what I suggest if you don't want to be spotted.

    1. Pick a store at the edge of town, or one where you know many people don't go to. Such as a small K-Mart opposed to a large Walmart. For me, it's either my local Barnes and Noble or K-Mart.

    2. Go in the middle of the week. Tuesday through Thursday. Less traffic, less people.

    3. Go later in the day, after 6:00 PM. If all of these rules are followed, you will likely not be bothered. Course, I've been called out before. Sometimes I just send someone else to go get my sets, lol. 
  • farnoldfarnold Member Posts: 5
    I just buy it off Amazon. They're prices are a lot more reasonable. However if you don't have Amazon I'd suggest buying it out of town when you travel. That way its nobody You know, Which means no embarrassment.
  • BrownRiceMafiaBrownRiceMafia Member Posts: 18
    farnold said:
    I just buy it off Amazon. They're prices are a lot more reasonable. However if you don't have Amazon I'd suggest buying it out of town when you travel. That way its nobody You know, Which means no embarrassment.

    Yeah I only go in store to get things that aren't discounted other places.

    I also find the LEGO Store staff super friendly and go there more often than Target.
  • bobabricksbobabricks Member Posts: 1,842
    I actually got quite a bit of respect as a TFOL. Everybody at my school sure knew I was making a hell of a lot more on my BrickLink store then they were, doing a summer job or whatever, ha ha.
  • empireempire Member Posts: 69
    I don't try to hide it. Once in awhile the women working at Toys R Us will ask if it's for myself, I just give an enthusiastic "Yup". A grown woman that works in a toy store for minimum wage has no right to judge me :P
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    mr_benn said:

    This post amuses me somewhat as replace 'Lego' with 'top shelf magazines' and it practically reads the same - people worrying about what others will think, be confident, be yourself, don't look shifty...
    There is a difference which means a shopkeeper ought to be less likely to raise an eyebrow with a magazine! As such, purchasing porn is more legitimate than purchasing a LEGO set! Isn't it?

    For the magazine, there's only one type of end customer - adult. By stocking it, the store expects to sell it for somebody like you. A toy shop has several types of end customer, but you can boil it down to adult and child - and can understandably express surprise if a toy is for an adult.

    Of course, the shop only knows TO whom they sell it, not FOR whom, which is why a teenage boy should have no qualms about going into a shop and buying a LEGO set, a girl's doll, female sanitary products or countless other things where they'd wish the Grim Reaper would turn up double-quick!

    There's another difference - a teenager would be proud if he managed to secure a purchase from that top shelf. And far from looking shifty, he'd have a big grin on his face.
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