I needed to run some errands yesterday so I borrowed a car1. It’s been awhile since I went out into the broader world of “shopping”. I, of course, go to stores and buy what I need or want, but just going shopping or hitting many stores in the same day has become a foreign experience.
It is the holiday-time and so many of the stores were busy, even on a Wednesday, with people searching for deals or gifts.
It was incredibly boring in a sociologically-interesting way.
Stores exist to sell products that individuals want or need. People go to stores to buy things. Tradition in western culture dictates that people buy gifts around December (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa). So more people go shopping. Stores, to maximize their sales, try to entice individuals to shop at their locale or purchase more through psychological tricks: big displays, holiday music, banners reminding you that the day is fast approaching, sales, “sales”.
And people keep falling for it.
I had a gift card to Kohl’s2 for reasons. I needed a few shirts and sweaters. I went to Kohl’s knowing full well that it would be terrible. The crowded displays, the fake deals3., the shuffling crowd trying to find gifts (Don’t buy kids toys from Kohl’s!)…
I found a few shirts (none of the sweaters had more than 50% wool and I wasn’t paying $65 — marked down! — for a half-plastic garment) and went to check out. The lady in front of me was buying a coat with her special coupon from the mailer and the transaction took upwards of five minutes for the one item. The cashier was polite but the customer’s loneliness was palpable.
And that’s when I remembered why I almost exclusively “shop” online.
Your family and friends don’t want cheap, crappy gifts from a big-box store. You’d be better served creating memories with them then spending all day shopping to not really save any money. If they aren’t appreciative of that…make new friends. Adopt a new family. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Skydive. Just stop the sadness-shopping.
Background: Christmas Shopping in Glasgow by Dace Praulins. .
I haven’t owned a car in six(?) years - a combination of not being able to afford anything that wouldn’t breakdown and a desire to see if I could do it. ↩
Attempting to take the crown from Kmart as the saddest place to shop. ↩
When I worked at Target long ago I learned that their mouthwash at the time (now the up & up label) was made by Listerine and didn’t meet the color standards and so they sold it in bulk as a private-label. Now the marget for private label is large enough that I’m sure large producers simply change the stickers and bottles out on the exact same product. Similarly for clothes - do you think the
sweatshopmanufacturer for those clothes differentiates between the cheap shirts for Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, and JCPenney. A person makes shirts all day and someone else sews different labels into each one and boxes them up. ↩