Retail Therapy

On a recent family outing to a shopping mall, our two young grandsons disappeared. While the moms were busily comparing sofas in a furniture store, the boys silently wandered off. When their moms realized this, they were worried sick, imagining their “babies” lured away by a stranger’s promise of free ipads. Both mothers had forgotten that Ben and Gavin are experts at hide and seek.

Ben takes his role of hiding very seriously; he learned well from his older cousin. So when Gavin yelled “ready or not!” Ben ran in zig zag fashion down several aisles and then popped into a dining room buffet cupboard. He settled in and waited comfortably while the moms, and later the store clerks, travelled up and down the aisles calling “Ben Ben!” Eventually a clerk thought to check the buffet cupboard. Ben delightedly jumped out, yelling “BOO!” as the clerk fell backwards in shock.

Ben and Gavin are victims of the shopping craze that has taken over our social lives. This is especially true in January when people are looking for a diversion in a warm place. Women call it retail therapy. We walk miles, change clothes several times, spend lots of money, and then sit down with a coffee while we consider what purchases to return. If our husbands laugh at this unusual behaviour, they are invited to come along. Once in the store, they look for a comfortable chair, and sit down to read the newspaper in peace, saying “Take your time, dear.”

Women who are fashion shopping have a lot of choice. We can go to a consignment store which carries brand-name clothes previously worn by actors and TV personalities. The clothes are usually packed into small spaces with low ceilings and high prices. But who minds paying $200 for a sweater if it was maybe worn by Celine Dion? Then there are stores such as Value Village where customers can pretend to donate something, while checking out the merchandise. All you have to do is dig, dig dig through all the heaps. There could be something really valuable at the bottom, as long as you don’t fall in and suffocate.

Or you can go to a big mall. Shopping malls these days come in many varieties. There are high-end malls with valet parking, guards at the entrances, and even car dealerships in case the car breaks down on the way there. Then there are family-centered malls with Lego stores, large food courts, and play areas. For the really adventurous there are destination malls, like the one out west, with a water park, mini-golf, skating rink, and bowling. Just imagine how long a woman could shop there, knowing her husband was so well taken care of!

Modern shopping has come a long way since the olden days when women sometimes wore white gloves to visit large department stores. Shopping was a big occasion. I recall a highlight of my childhood – going Christmas shopping with my friend Libby when we were about 10 years old. We would diligently walk up and down the main street of our small town, trying to decide what to buy for each family member on our list. After we had made our purchases, we would go to the Diana Sweets for a cherry coke. We felt SO grown up. It was the beginning of a life-long addiction.

But shopping today has changed a lot. The Eaton’s catalogue business has been replaced by Amazon delivery. White gloves have given way to ripped jeans and hoodies. The special occasion is now our regular weekend activity. And store marketing departments spend a lot of time trying to find a niché or a gimmick to attract our attention and our shopping dollar.

I discovered recently that Nordstrom has the latest answer. A customer can go to her local store, find the in-store restaurant, and order a glass of wine. After paying, the customer is free to wander through every department while sipping her chardonnay. The Nordstrom marketing team say their aim is to making shopping a “fun experience” for their customers.

Surely this is the way to polish off the month of January!


3 thoughts on “Retail Therapy

  1. I think there is hardly any mother who has not been once scared by “loosing” her child in a store. Ikea has been smart they created play station with supervisors for the kids this way the parent(s) can shop without being distracted by the kids and the kids have fun. I also like Nordstrom’s new idea of a glass of wine. They could even say: if you shop the glass is on us (deducting the price from your shopping bill). 🙂


  2. Shopping is and will always be an exhausting chore. An exercise in frustration, restraint and abuses of the budget. Its so easy to spend and leads to regret fueled binging on unhealthy comfort foods. My wife lives for it. Me and Gavin will play hide and seek.


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