Column: Something About Nothing
I am so sad. Well, I am not that sad but I am sad. I am sad about the way our shopping habits are affecting the stores I love to visit.
I haven’t done a lot of shopping this past year in brick and mortar stores. Part of the reason was illness, part of the reason was laziness and part of the reason around the holidays was avoidance of crowds.
It was easy during cold weather to do my shopping with the click of a mouse. I didn’t have to battle the cold, the crowds or the heat this summer. All I had to do was to click my mouse and I could shop in my PJs.
I had a light-bulb moment while visiting a shopping mall this week. My grandkids had stayed with me and reluctantly we had to return them to their parents. Our meeting place was the River Hills Mall in Mankato. I have spent a few minutes in the mall a couple of months ago but it was to attend a movie and I didn’t pay much attention to the stores.
My granddaughter’s favorite pastime is shopping. She gets the fact at 9 years old that women like to shop. We strolled the mall. Maybe we were shopping at the wrong season. Our first stop was Bath and Body Works. I remember being in a wheelchair during one of my broken bone days and not being able to shop Bath and Body Works because it was so full of goodies. This time it would have been an easy trip in a wheel chair which is good for the handicapped. It struck me that they do not seem to be carrying as much merchandise.
We strolled the mall a little further and there were stores closing. To be fair there were some stores opening, but I wondered how long they would last. As we browsed in the stores many of them seemed to me to have less merchandise than they did a year or so again. Their aisles seemed wider and less cluttered.
We of course had to visit my favorite store of Barnes and Noble and touch and smell the books. Their aisles too were emptier I am sure because of ebooks. I wondered if some day I would visit malls and the book stores would be entirely gone.
We made our way to the food court to meet the parents. I was excited about the many choices of food they used to have. The choices of food have narrowed. There was no Orange Julius, no Kentucky Fried Chicken. The food court had turned into half a food court.
This was my light-bulb moment. I contribute to the demise of malls and brick and mortar stores. I contribute because I let my mouse do the walking instead of my feet. I can blame the government for the jobless rate. However I feel somewhere in my mind that I too have contributed to the loss of jobs because of the way I shop. The jobs in malls and brick and mortar stores support many people. These jobs also help college and high school students earn some money to support their needs. These jobs are dying.
We are making a push to buy American-made, and I support that but we also need to make a push to support our local and area stores before they disappear and the only way we can get an item in on the Internet. When we do that, we not only lose our stores we lose a means of communicating and socializing that is important to keep us from being hermits.
We can meet and greet and communicate via computer and phone but face-to-face interaction can’t be replaced.
I would like to say that I am going to do all my shopping via the walking method rather than the mouse method, but I would be lying. I like to shop, but in my paring down phase I haven’t done much of it. I suspect other people too are cutting back.
We women used to shop till we dropped. There were a lot of wise cracks made about this subject. Woman got together with other friends and shopped. We had fun, we laughed and it was a social event. Today’s women have stopped socializing through shopping. Many have stopped spending time with friends because they have no time. It is good for the soul to take time to spend with friends.
Maybe it is up to the women to save the economy. We need to ignore the wise cracks and get back to our slogan “Shop till you drop.” Make it a social event. Women are stressed so they have stopped shopping. It is time to take back the shopping. If you like to shop it will help you de-stress. If aren’t a shopper, help out a friend that does. Watch their kids, take over a task and let them shop for you. Save the economy. Men, if you like to shop you can join us in our “Shop Till you drop;” we won’t hit you with any wise cracks.
Just thinking about a rally to shop to save our brick and mortar stores makes me less sad. When women set their minds to something they accomplish great things. You go girls!
by Julie Seedorf © August 2012