The Shopping of Yesteryear

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!

Your thoughts? 🙂




The Shopping of Yesteryear — 4 Comments

  1. You know Crissie, it’s that way about everything today. Unless you are in a high end store in my area, you get a sales clerk that is often more interested in continuing their conversation with another clerk, than to making the customer feel welcome and special. Not to say they are all like that, but for the most part they are.

    Even in the company I work for, the guys on the shop floor don’t think anything about texting and cell calls while running a machine. The younger generation is running the show and I guess I just have to adjust to it…for 4 more years. I’m in count down mode!
    xx, Carol

  2. I loved shopping with my mom at Christmas and everything being wrapped and boxed so carefully. My dad and I go shopping every year for Christmas during the local open house in an area of independent stores. The coffee, cookies, special gifts with purchases along with other treats make it one of my favorite days of the year. I shop there during the year too, and its nice when the clerks know your name.
    I don’t know if anyone else gets frustrated when clerks are on the cell phone during working hours. I don’t even turn my phone on when I’m working, and I turn it off in class too. It makes me crazy when I’m taking notes and trying to listen and the person next to me is texting and the phone keeps buzzing.

  3. Love your scarf. So YOU!!

    I love Talbots!! It has been one of my favorite stores to shop at forever!!

    I have those same memories of great service, each item carefully folded, individually wrapped with tissue paper and held together with a store label sticky. They would even give you a gift box per item if you needed it. I LOVE Talbots. Hmmm. Wonder if my local store is having a giant sale going on like yours. I’ll have to check.

    BTW, being retired, I STILL have to check my budget before buying. 😀

  4. Oh, what a pretty shawl Crystal! Those colors are dreamy.

    There’s a Talbots in the outlet center I go to. My sister and I recently went in and they had such nice things. I almost bought a black summer outfit. I regret not getting it now. 🙁

    It’s very rare to have a purchase wrapped up so nicely. I can’t remember the last time anyone fussed over anything I bought. I get happy when I get a shopping bag, and that’s usually only after I’ve asked for it!

    xo Paulette 🙂

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