Sunday, May 16, 2010

Random thoughts on shopping...

It is the end of the semester. Finals have been read; grades are posted; and the season at the shore is about to begin. But, I always pay attention to the students' comments on the end of semester evaluations I have them do. I am constantly trying to keep up with the changes in their lives...their culture. And that got me to thinking about my shop.

For those of us in the secondary selling world, we are indeed the ultimate recyclers. I was thinking what will be in small shops 100 years from now...will a small shop even exist...look around at what is being sold today and picture it in shops of the future. Made in China? Dollar store trinkets? "Tarjay" furniture? You have to remember the Five & Ten was the precursor of the Dollar Store so you cannot pooh-pooh the idea.

I found a wonderful fur hat with a Bergdorf Goodman label...

...for those not familiar...a traditional department store in New York City.
But my thought is still ~ will the small shop survive? Will the department store even be able to hold on? So many small shops have closed or are closing in this current economic hurricane as well as some traditional department stores--this area has seen the demise of Lit Brothers, Gimbel's, Wanamakers, but have tastes changed? Is "fashionista," the TJ Maxx/Marshalls shopper, the wave of the future? Walmart keeps trying to adjust its image so it may have some issues as well. Is shopping a lost art? You can come to this screen, google, point, click, and shop with no problems. Texting replaces phone calls; screens replace printed pages; online replaces lifeline.

What amazes me is that people will pay hundreds of dollars to be connected via air...cable, cell, computer...yet, when it comes to buying some concrete thing, they will become the ultimate bargain shoppers, not viewing the experience as a happening so to speak.

I look at a stash of costume jewelry that I got at auction, and I think...the women who wore these necklaces got them at department stores. A sales woman probably helped her try it on...commented on how it looked...and sold it to her. Unlike today, where you spin the rack, pick one, and move on. But, in a small shop, you can relate to the person who walks in. As our season begins, and the summer houses are opened, we renew acquaintances...we talk about health, wealth, shopping is more than buying something. It is the lifeline.

Maybe you don't have small shops or cafes near you, but, if you do, you know what it is like to walk into a store where you are a person, not merely a customer. There are people who are trying to save the Brick & Mortar independents...the 3/50 Project is one...their research showed that "if just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned businesses, their purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue." And for "every $100 spent in independently owned stores,$68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home." They have added "Eat down the street" to their campaigns also.

So, just some random ramblings about shopping this week...I know I look forward to seeing the summer crowd meeting new getting out to the flea markets...the farm thaw out after the winter that was!

7 comments: said...

You have the best of both world my friend. Today and Yesterday! I wish I could visit your shop. I need to find out where you are.

come visit

Anonymous said...

I guess if we last long enought there will always be a small shop to browse through. I remember Woolworth's, G.C. Murphy, and Newberry's in Wildwood. They were great five and dimes!! I,too, am glad to see the summer visitors arriving. They make our lives interesting and they bring so much other than their cash with them. Here's hoping for a great season.

Just a bed of roses said...

Some good thoughts to ponder on Susan.
Guess we won't know the answer to some of those questions especially the one 100 years from now.
We enjoy the best of both worlds right now.
I'm glad to be a part of the keeping the small brick and mortars alive as long as the public will let me. I also love to support friends who have shops, by networking and spending some of my dollars with them.
When did you want to become an English Professor?

Susan said...


I am into my 41st year of teaching English...always wanted to teach...and I love words...and pictures...this is the best of those also...

gail said...

Hi Susan, I wished I could have visited your squirrels. LOL They still crack me up. I just love the furry little things.
What a great post. I try very hard to shop and small independant stores. They are my favorites. I know many of my friends do also. Hopefully it will be enough.
I hope you enjoy your trip to NYC. I flew into JFK and stayed at my friends in the Bronx and only saw the City from a distance. It was calling my name though :)
Enjoy your summer!!! gail

The Cinnamon Stick said...

As long as there are those who use all their "senses" small stores will exist - to touch, smell, taste and see, what they are purchasing and to hear the sweet voice of storekeepers explain their wares ...we will survive and so will those after us - I have faith!!! XO, Judy

Kaza Blog said...

There are no self-checkout lines in an Indie shop. Great Post!