Pondering Retail

I’ve been shopping all my life and still have nothing to wear. ~Author unknown

Recently, I heard yet another dismal report on the demise of brick-and-mortar stores as shoppers turn their attention to online venues.

And that saddens me.

As someone who loves to “touch and roll,” I can’t fathom a day when I can’t go into a store, pick up merchandise, see the colors, feel the materials, smell the scents, try things on, get personal help with sizing or laundering, then buy what I want and leave.

Oh, I appreciate the ease of online shopping. The thrill of finding something on sale when it wasn’t in the store. The fun of getting a BOX delivered right to my doorstep. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s easier to sit at my computer and order stuff rather than brave crowds, inclement weather, or time constraints.

But still.

If retail stores close en masse, look how many of our friends and neighbors will be out of work. Look how hard our state and local chambers of commerce will have to scramble to find other businesses to rent those abandoned spaces. Look how much our communities will suffer as unemployment rises, the rest of us have to pick up the slack in taxes, and communities turn into ghost towns.

I like the idea of buying local, of helping out small businesses when I can. But that’s only if they provide outstanding products, prices, and customer service — before and after the sale. And there are just some things that I have to shop in a store for. Why, I’ve taken an armload of jeans — same brand, same style, same size — into a dressing room, and found every last pair to fit differently! How much fun would that have been online?

Some retail stores have, over time, become complacent. A clerk who says, “There you go,” when she should say, “Thank you”; mounds of items everyone already owns a closet full of; lackluster sale events; scarcity of helpful clerks when you need one — all these turn shoppers off.

Nevertheless, I don’t think retail has to die. Maybe all it needs is to change with the times?

Note: Happy Easter to one and all!

19 thoughts on “Pondering Retail

  1. I much prefer local brick-and-mortar shopping. I will buy clothing online if I know precisely what I want. Boat shoes come to mind. I only wear Sperrys, and I go through a couple of pair each year because they’re my work shoes. They’re also expensive, so now and then I go looking, and if I can find my size, color, and model at a reduced rate on eBay or some other site, I’ll buy.

    Otherwise, I want that up close and personal experience. I got burned once by Lands End, when the tops I’d been buying had their quality reduced. Instead of my wonderful, heavy cotton tees, I got cheap, chintzy tees with no substance. That was the end of my Land’s End buying. (Of course, that was due to company problems greater than online issues.)

    In short — yep. The locals need our support. I don’t buy much, but when I do, I try to go local as much as possible.

    Happy Easter to you!

    • Linda, I know exactly what you mean about Land’s End! Once, I had a drawer full of their tees (as you said, great colors and wonderful heavy cotton material). Recently, I ordered a couple that I’d seen in their catalog and was awfully disappointed. The material is flimsy (supposed to drape, so they say), and far from the previous quality. Unless they can return to the former ones, I won’t be back.

      And you know, that’s just the sort of thing you can’t determine when you shop online, the heft of material. Oh, sure, I can buy some things online (replacement cartridges for my printer, for example), but with shipping costs added each way, ordering and returning multiple times can get expensive.

      Happy Easter to you, too!

  2. “As someone who loves to “touch and roll,” I can’t fathom a day when I can’t go into a store, pick up merchandise, see the colors, feel the materials, smell the scents, try things on, get personal help with sizing or laundering, then buy what I want and leave.”

    Me as well, Debbie! I do very little online shopping.

    And you are so right about shopping in stores turning into online shopping because I am (and have been for MANY years) in retail and I can see how quickly business is slowing down, due to online shopping. In fact, last Christmas was very slow for us compared to the year before.

    Fortunately, the retail company I work for is well aware of what’s going on the the business with online shopping; therefore focusing a lot on their in-store customer service, making sure they get outstanding one-on-one service as to deter them from shopping online.

    Great post, my friend! And HAPPY EASTER to you and Dallas!

    • Ron, there are times when I’ve been to our local mall and realized you could shoot a cannon off from one end to the other and not hit a single soul!! Maybe people just don’t like to shop anymore? I don’t know, but I consider it therapeutic, ha! And that’s even if I don’t actually buy anything!

      I’m glad to hear some stores are paying attention to shopping trends. If they don’t, of course, they’ll have to go out of business. We all know times change, but I think the personal nature of shopping in a real store can far outweigh the impersonal nature of online shopping. And sometimes I just don’t want to WAIT for a box to arrive!

      Happy Easter, my friend. Hope you’re enjoying Spring! xx

  3. I was visiting my sweet Mom and dear Dad in Albuquerque a few weeks ago and we went to Dillards to shop. And shop I did. For the first time in a very long time. It was fun and the experience was enjoyable. Funny, my mother thanked a women for holding the door open for her when we walked into Dillards and when she respond, “You’re Welcome,” my Mom gasped with surprise. Thank you and your welcome seem to be in short supply, these days.
    It’s so complicated to go to the mall in Chicago. I never shop downtown. Old Orchard is my mall du jour, but it is a hike. I’m also a big fan of Cosco. But most of my money is spent online with Amazon. With Amazon Prime almost anything can be delivered to my door in less than 2 days. And I have found customer service at Amazon to be exceptional. The same holds true for Zappo’s. And it’s fun to try on shoes at home.
    I do have my favorite local spots for food, and one shop that sells clothes that I like.

    May the chocolate be with you today and always!

    • GOOD for you! Nothing like a nice long trip to the warm and sunny southwest to put a smile on your face!!

      Old Orchard? Seriously? Why, you’ve probably passed Domer and not realized it (not that he’s a big shopper, but anyway). And I’m pretty sure he’s at least as big a fan of Amazon as you are! Their two-day shipping is an amazing accomplishment, one that puts so many other retailers to shame. It’s especially nice to be able to track your order and find out almost exactly when it will arrive.

      Did Rascal enjoy an Easter treat hunt? Darling Dallas doesn’t know today’s Easter, so I’m waiting until Domer comes home to hold the egg hunt. It’s much more FUN with both of us “egging” the doggin on! Happy Easter to all of you!!

  4. I’m a real hypocrite when it comes to this question. On the one hand, I hate the idea of the high street dying. On the other hand I rarely go to physical shops except food shops. But I still want to think they’re there! I do agree that service makes all the difference. If I go to a lovely shop full of well presented stuff with polite, friendly staff, I’ll go back. If I get some bored person who barely prevents herself from eye-rolling when asked if the shop stocks something, then they’ll never see me again…

    • Aw, that’s not being a hypocrite, FF — that’s logical, in my mind. I mean, everybody wants to be treated with kindness and knowledge, whether it’s in person or online. Eye rolling is far from polite!! But how do you try stuff on when you shop online? I’ve found too much variation in sizes, materials, and even colors from what is pictured, so I wind up buying online only those things I can be absolutely sure of. Oh, well, perhaps a virtual dressing room is the idea!

  5. I think you hit this topic right on the head, Debbie. I do order from Amazon too much, but I don’t order clothes there. As you mentioned, some things like jeans can all fit very differently even if they are the same size. I also just like to go in stores and look around. The demise of brick and mortar stores will leave big holes in our communities on many levels.

    • Thanks, Audrey. I know it’s even harder when kids are between sizes … and picky! Hard to believe you have a daughter old enough to get confirmed, you know 😉

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