Shopping Addict Selling Bulk of Purchases for Recovery

Shopping Addict Selling Bulk of Purchases for Recovery

By McCarton Ackerman 12/22/14

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger admitted to a variety of "compulsive and dangerous" behaviors.

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose prolific shopping addiction set him back $600,000 is now selling the bulk of his purchases as part of his recovery.

Buzz Bissinger, best known for his reporting on sports culture, confessed to his shopping addiction in a 2013 GQ essay. His spending sprees began three years ago and he would typically splurge recklessly at high-end designer lines and shops. These brands even started to fly Bissinger over to Italy for runway shows, but his habits began to put his marriage and family in danger.

“Gucci men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid,” he wrote. “Raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh."

After the essay, Bissinger entered rehab for a “variety of compulsive and dangerous behaviors” that included self-harm and prescription drug use. He also stopped writing first-person essays and returned to reporting after realizing he found the online criticism from readers difficult to handle.

“When someone writes something good about you, it makes you feel good for a minute. And when someone writes something bad about you, it makes you feel bad for hours and weeks and none of it makes any difference anyway,” he told Vanity Fair. “I was Googling myself four or five times a day. So I no longer write for the Daily Beast; I was doing a lot of TV, and I no longer do any of that. I’ve turned it all down.”

But the biggest part of his recovery process is getting rid of the bulk of his clothes. Bissinger turned to Matthew Ruiz, the CEO of luxury consignment business Luxeswap, to clear out items from his massive storage space in Philadelphia. Among the items being removed are leather moto jackets and an ostrich skin trench-coat. But while Bissinger realizes it’s necessary to get rid of the items, he intends on keeping some of them because he’ll always appreciate good fashion.

“This [storage space] represents about three quarters of the collection,” he said. "I still have pieces that I love and wear…I love every piece of clothing I purchased, except for a few whacko selections.”

There are an estimated 30 million compulsive shoppers in the U.S., but perhaps surprisingly 50% of them are men. Terrence Shulman, founder and director of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding, said that many of his male clients develop issues with shopping after overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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