Shopping Is…

For many, many years, Walmart was my place to shop. I was thrilled that I could go to one place and find everything that I needed for the week. And yes, I went every week. I would generally start in the garden section in the warmer months, browsing the plants and looking for deals. Then would come the shampoo and toothpaste aisles. Of course I would swing through the clothes section, always shopping the clearance racks. Then the last, and most expensive part of the trip would be the groceries. This was my routine and I thoroughly enjoyed it, sometimes dragging several children along with me.

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Last night, my husband and our youngest went to Walmart. Long gone are the days I mentioned above! That store is now my least favorite, and I don’t even know all the reasons why. But of course I’m going to list a few here for your enjoyment! And remember, for the past several years, even getting me into a Walmart is a chore.

  • The prices are not what they once were. Yes, there are some deals still. I usually get my Tide and Downey there. Some things like mini-blinds and curtain rods are still reasonable.
  • Gone are the racks of children’s clothing on clearance with prices marked down to $.50 for a shirt or shorts. I once shopped a full season ahead, praying the clothes would still fit by the time our children could wear them without freezing or roasting. To be fair, prices are higher for everything everywhere. But last night, the clearance rack was not a deal. I know because I had just spent the better part of my day shopping online for children’s clothing. I found better deals there.
  • The atmosphere is not the same as it once was. Maybe I’m coming at it with a different perspective now. My days are fairly quite with a twelve-year old at home. Going shopping isn’t a calming experience. I think that all those hours spent in Walmart were my salvation, my opportunity to connect with the rest of the world and know there was one out there! It was my little treat, and all it cost me was the price of my groceries.
  • People everywhere are over-worked, over-stressed, over-stimulated and just plain depressed about their lives in general. That just kind of oozes out when you are in places like Walmart in my opinion. The clerks usually growl at you, the customers don’t make eye-contact, even if their phone isn’t in front of their face. It just isn’t a fun place to be. And if you are there late as we were last night, the truck is being unloaded…and don’t try to shop then! You have to be one fantastic cart-driver to get around that obstacle course! And don’t even think of browsing a shelf. If you can move the pallet of boxes in front of what you need, you’d better be quick. That Walmart associate has a job to do, and you’re not part of it.

Farmer’s Markets seem to be calling me. When I had several children trailing behind, they didn’t feel like a responsible way to spend my money or time. I wanted to leisurely choose my goods in that environment, maybe sip on a coffee and have a bagel as I chatted with other friendly people and vendors. Plus, to purchase in bulk and get all my shopping done in one place probably wasn’t going to happen at a farmer’s market when all five children were at home.

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This photograph reminds me of a place called the Carrot Barn. It was located in Schoharie County, upstate New York in the Catskills region. The place smelled earthy and fresh. There was local produce, some clothing, some antiques and always a friendly person. They even had delicious baked goods. And there was always music playing. Calming, soothe-your-soul music. Even to this day, our children will hear a song and comment that it sounds like Carrot Barn music.

Those are the memories I want to make now!

This last picture is included because I just think that’s neat! What a way to store shopping carts! Try getting one of those unlocked!

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Shopping should be as it once was. Picture the Waltons, barefoot children trailing into the store greeting Mr. Godsey. They always had something to talk about, he gave them candy. Sometimes he would make a special purchase possible, even when the money wasn’t there right then. Going to the store was a time to visit, to catch up on the town’s happenings. I can even smell the atmosphere…the earthy, fresh aroma of ground coffee beans, leather, spices and the oiled wood floor. And now…

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Shop ‘Til You Drop!

This post was from a year ago. I came across it today and it brought back fond memories of shopping with our two oldest daughters. By the time our son came along, I guess taking three small children to the mall wasn’t such fun anymore. I don’t recall going to the mall very much with three children, and certainly not at Christmas time! But I do remember the lights and decorations, and of course the crowds!

When I was younger…much younger, I used to live at the mall. Well, not really. I absolutely loved the mall and spent many a Saturday there. Once I had children, they had the ‘joy’ of going with me. After all, pushing a stroller and dragging a toddler is a pretty good workout!

I look back at that time period and wonder what that was all about. I didn’t really spend that much money there, especially after the children came along. So it must have been the ambiance. As you know, the atmosphere is really great at a mall!

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Christmas shopping was especially wonderful and exciting. The hour you cruised the parking lot, trying to find a parking spot in walking distance of that cement building rising from the pavement. Lugging out the stroller, diaper bag, and of course the coats. It would be freezing for that ‘walk’ to the mall and then you would have to find a place to ‘stuff’ them when you went back to normal clothing inside. I think our stroller had a weight limit of about 500 pounds, fully loaded! Then you would spend several hours, if not most of the day walking aimlessly along, trying to find a path through the masses of people doing the same.

Again, was this actually enjoyable? For some reason, I used to think so.

I think for me, it was the pull of the people. I have always LOVED to people watch. When I was a child, I could sit in an airport for hours, and sometimes it was about that long waiting for an overdue plane. I would imagine where they were going, if they were traveling alone, etc. People Christmas shopping hold the same allure. I would much rather sit and watch people shop these days, than actually shop. (You save a lot of money that way as well!)

The mall at Christmas time is beautiful. The decorations are always fun to look at, and the music puts you in that holiday frame of mind. But these days, my laptop is my BFF when it comes to shopping at any time of the year. Sounds pretty boring…huh?

I find as I get older, my thoughts are changing, the things I enjoy doing are not the same as they were even a few years ago. And I think that’s good and just fine. Many of us could not maintain the pace of our younger years. No, I still don’t want to become a couch potato and never go out, but I don’t enjoy being part of the crowd as much as I used to.

So, I reflect this morning over my young adulthood of shopping. I didn’t go to the mall this year, even though my husband tried to get me there this past Saturday. A couple of stores was about all I could handle. Most of my shopping was done from the comfort of my office at home. I could pull up sales and items from anywhere. They came right on time to my back door. I wrapped them in the comfort of my home, listening to Christmas music on Pandora. And I’m done…well in time for Christmas Day. Now that’s MY kind of shopping!