When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. ~Chinese proverb
Perhaps change is the only constant in our world, but at the risk of appearing old, I’ve got to admit: I really miss retail shopping, particularly department stores.
My wistfulness over this societal change struck recently, when my son Domer announced he’d gone shopping for a particularly hard-to-find item of clothing, and one of the places he tried was Kohl’s.
“What’s up with that?” he asked me. “They’ve got Amazon return areas, a whole section for Sephora, and all their regular stuff.”
Hmm. I think that’s called a department store. And they used to be everywhere.
Even my small town had department stores, which operated from the downtown area until the shopping mall was built.
When I was little, we’d go to Chicago a couple of times a year. One of my uncles lived there, and it was great to see him, dine in fancy restaurants, and shop … all in one trip.
The stores were fabulous. Huge buildings with multiple floors connected by an elevator — complete with an attendant who reverently announced things like, “Second floor — children’s wear” and “Fourth floor — men’s attire” and “Sixth floor — housewares.”
How cool was that?!!
But retail has changed. Today, stores with more than one floor usually have escalators, those moving staircases that are the bane of a young mom’s existence.
Ever try wrestling a carriage — with your baby inside, preferably sleeping — onto one of those things, while impatient people bunch up behind you and chafe at the delay?
No wonder so many stores switched to a single floor.
To me, the best shopping is a mall — where you can find almost anything your heart dreams up, all under one roof.
Books, hair accessories, cosmetics, clothing, shoes, music, food — what a wealth of options! Wandering from store to store is a feast for the senses, and it’s easy to convince yourself you deserve that burger and milkshake after clocking so many steps.
A shopping mall was a teen’s paradise. You could meet your friends, buy inexpensive trinkets like earrings or nail polish, and share a soda with somebody special — all while away from a parent’s critical gaze.
Meanwhile, parents could be relatively certain their kids were safe.
How times have changed, and not for the better. Today, the news is filled with stories of mall kidnappings, shootings, and other frightening things.
Do you remember mall Christmas decorations? And special performances by everything from school choirs and karate clubs to fashion shows and trading card and crafts sales?
But thanks to the proliferation of Big Box stores like Walmart and the COVID pandemic, even shopping malls are changing. Many people are shopping online and picking up their purchases curbside.
Sadly, that means you can’t touch what you’re considering buying. Can’t examine the workmanship, match the color to something you already own, try it on for sizing.
Which likely results in a lot of returns.
So maybe retail will cycle back, ya think?