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.

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We all need a day off

Why is it that I wait until I:

  • Just. Can’t. Go. On. Before I take a break?
  • Am. Totally. Exhausted. Before I stop and rest?
  • Feel. Completely. Broken. Before I schedule time away?
Tired. So tired.

Tired. So tired.

Dry. Parched.

Dry. Parched.

Wilting. Wilted.

Wilting. Wilted.

Do you do that, too?

Is it human nature, do you think?

Or are some of us just wired to go until we’re forced to collapse?

Perhaps it comes with being a mom. Doing for your family no matter how tired you might be.

Perhaps it comes with working for (and by) yourself. Knowing that you don’t have employees to pawn work off on, yet realizing the work must be done.

By Thursday night, I felt so spent that I knew my only recourse was to take Friday off.

To renew my psyche.

So I went to the country to visit a friend.

Something about fields of corn and soybeans in full growth mode soothes my soul.

Soybean field.

Soybean field.

We sat outside. And swung. And watched her puppies.

The air smelled clean. The trees swayed in a gentle cool breeze. The sun warmed our arms and faces.

Maple shade tree.

Maple shade tree.

Then we did a bit of shopping.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, so I felt no urge to buy. Just to look. And, as my sister says, To touch and roll the pretty things.

To soak in the colors and materials. To anticipate the changing of the seasons based on the items displayed.

And that night I slept the sleep of an old dog — deep, refreshing, rejuvenating. Like flowers after a soaking rain.

Colorful vinca.

Colorful vinca.

Purple petunias.

Purple petunias.

Since it feels so good to take a vacation day now and then, I wonder why it takes so long for me to take one?

What’s stopping you from enjoying the present?

Props to the Savviest Shopper I Know!

I think I’ve finally figured out what went wrong with our trip to Ireland.

Someone (I won’t point a finger, but you can guess!) is just too CHEAP to enjoy a vacation!

Here’s what gave it away:

This weekend, My Favorite Domer and I went into a Kohl’s store. I wanted to return a pair of shoes I’d bought for Commencement but found too uncomfortable; he said he was just going to “poke around” while I was in the Customer Service line.

When I finished, I went to the ladies section, zeroed in on a couple of things to try on, and was in the dressing room when my cell phone rang.

It was Domer.

“Have you got a minute?” he wondered. “I found some things and want you to take a look at them.”

“Where are you?”

“Men’s section.”

“Be right there.”

I discovered Domer wandering aimlessly around the men’s section, a pile of clothes in his arms.

Turns out, he’d found three sweaters, one half-zip top, and a dress topcoat.

“They were on clearance,” he told me.

Now much of those racks look like a garage sale to me, so I was hesitant.

“Do they fit?” I asked. “What’s wrong with them?”

“Nothing. They’re fine. I can wear them this winter.”

I noticed all were quality brand-name items that would go with other things in his closet.

When he showed me the price tags, I gasped.

“Too much?”

“Uh, no, I think I’ve got a fifteen percent off coupon somewhere. Ready to check out?”

He nodded and carried his loot to a cashier.

After ringing in the total, she gave me a big grin and said, “You saved $500!”

The lady behind us almost fell over from the shock.

My savvy shopper had picked up merchandise that was 90 percent off! The topcoat alone carried an original price tag of $275, and he got it for $27.50. Those sweaters were between $6 and $9 each. Each!

Now, I’ve got friends who pride themselves on spotting bargains. They browse resale shops, buy only off-season items, trade with friends, etc.

But NEVER have I had the pleasure of saving $500 on one shopping trip!!

What makes a good shopping experience?

Is it just me, or is Macy’s one of the harder department stores to shop in?

Yesterday I went to Macy’s for the first time in a couple of months. I was looking for a pair of casual pants (black, navy, khaki, size 6) to bridge the season-change from summer to fall, something similar to the black crops I’d bought there back in the spring.

Now I’d be the first to admit I have two basic shopping styles:

  • Occasionally, I like to browse. Walk into a store, look over what’s there, pick things up. Touch-and-roll, my sister calls it. I find it relaxing. I get ideas. I rarely spend money. It’s more of a sisterly/girlfriend kind of shopping.
  • More often, I power-shop. Decide beforehand what I want or need, then race from store to store until I find it. At the right price. In the right size and color. Sometimes I spend money; sometimes I don’t. It’s the kind of shopping men generally do.

Anyway, as I was meandering from department to department in Macy’s, I became more and more confused. And frustrated.

Nothing made sense in their “organization” of merchandise. It was like somebody had scooped everything up into a hot air balloon, then opened the bottom and dumped it all out, leaving stuff exactly where it landed.

I found a pair of black dress slacks, size 18, by Style&co. right next to a lime green, size petite, scooter skirt by Karen Scott, for instance.

Okay, that’s just a fluke, I told myself.

But it quickly became obvious the store didn’t arrange things by color, or size, or style, or designer — things most stores do to help out their customers.

Nope, it was like a yard sale. Or an Easter egg hunt.

Even the signage along the walls didn’t help.

Maybe I should just give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe things were haphazardly placed because they were trying to move the summer lines out in preparation for back-to-school and fall. Maybe a bunch of lazy customers had come in, tried stuff on, then failed to put it back in the right place. Maybe disorganization is the new style in merchandising. Maybe it’s Macy’s way of forcing customers to consult the salespeople rather than helping themselves.

Ya think??

Somehow, I’m not convinced. It all comes across as a mess to me. It doesn’t make me want to linger in their store. Or buy anything.

And Sales is really the bottom line, isn’t it?

Beating the Black Friday crowds

Show of hands now — how many braved the shoppers (and here, the frigid cold!) to hunt Black Friday bargains during the wee hours of the morning?

Because I stayed up late with My Favorite Domer watching Texas beat A&M on TV last night, I opted to sleep in a bit. Still, once I was up and had a decent breakfast, I hurried to the stores to see what I could find. I didn’t spend much, but I got a great deal on some fuzzy boots I’d been eyeing — best of all, they’re almost as comfy as my moccasins!

I couldn’t help recalling this time several years back, when MFD and I arose in the still-dark, dressed, and drove a half-hour away to a store we don’t have here because their flyer advertised HUGE SALES!

The main thing we were shopping for then was a DVD player, the portable kind, and he had to have one.

When we arrived, the parking lot was nearly full, and easily more than a hundred shoppers (bundled in coats and hats) were lined up in the parking lot, well away from the main doors.

No way were we going to do that!

We started sauntering toward the building — not an easy feat, since those other shoppers kept hollering bad things at us. Ignoring them, we continued and approached the doors, just as the employees were opening.

Of course, we scooted in practically first (those people were really mad by this time!). But hey, nobody said they had to line up in the brr-cold like idiots; there was no cordoning off tape, no signs, no tickets to take, and no security guards.

MFD was quite a bit shorter then, so he led the way, slipping in and out of the aisles like a real pro. The others, of course, had stopped to pick up shopping carts, slowing their progress way down. Inside of fifteen minutes, we’d picked up everything on our list and proceeded to check out.

What a rush! He still talks about it — me, I’m just glad we didn’t get shot. I’d almost rather pay a bit more and shop at my leisure, instead of tangling with uber-intent people over “stuff” neither of us truly needs!