It’s no secret that the economy has been in a state of uncertainty for quite a while. Empty shops and going-out-of business signs are no longer just an occasional sight. Now they’re pretty much the norm.
Stores that are still in business have had to cut corners – eliminate the niceties – which is understandable, but somehow a little sad.
We’ve probably all become used to mall shopping trips where our carefully selected purchases are rolled in a ball and absent-mindedly stuffed into a plastic bag, but I’m old enough to remember when shopping was an “event”.
In those days, we couldn’t make purchases willy-nilly; we had to budget for them, so a little extra flourish at the store counter helped to magnify and enhance an experience that didn’t happen all that often.
At that time, clerks in even the moderately priced stores would carefully fold your garment and wrap it in tissue paper. If you were buying a dress or a coat – it might even be placed in a box. Sometimes the box would be tied with string and then a little wooden handle would be attached to make it easy to carry.
Recently, I was shopping at a local mall. The 60% off everything signs in the window of this old-time retailer caught me eye and I ventured inside to browse.
I found something I liked and as I was paying for it . . . I experienced a bit of déjà vu. The clerk handled it very carefully. She wrapped it in tissue paper and sealed it with a sticker carrying the store’s logo.
During those moments at the store counter, it seemed as if my purchase was, well, important. My hard-earned money was appreciated. I bought this multi-colored summer shawl/scarf. It’s a wonderfully generous size (72″ by 40″) and the colors drift into a palette of pastel stripes.
It seems to me there’s a thrill in buying something pretty and then having it presented to you with a little fanfare. As I left the store, I felt a bit nostalgic for the days when a purchase was a big deal.
When you stop and think about it, there are probably many reasons why “event” shopping went the way of the telephone booth . . .
Besides the fact that stores are cutting costs to keep competitive, customers often own and buy more than they really need. The proof? Well, the internet is awash with advice on how to downsize, donate, and recycle. In this climate, I suppose it’s no longer practical nor environmentally friendly to have every purchase wrapped nicely.
But I can’t help thinking that things were more fun when shopping was an experience!