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The Art of Shopping

The Art of Shopping

Well, it’s that time again.  Time for holiday wish lists, pumpkin pie, spice filled coffee drinks, yuletides, Sugar Plum Fairies, goblins and ghosts, ghouls and garish decorations, eggnog and mistletoe, and everything else that demands our utmost shopping attention!  Because after-all, most of us don’t simply have all these things lying around from October on, we have to shop for them!

Shopping.  In a word, it seems pretty simple.  “Honey, I’m going shopping, do you need anything?”  A simple question, often met with a simple answer. “Nope, I’m good thanks.”  Ahhh, but what if we really broke it down?  It depends on the season, but come October, that little word means so much more…

Halloween Socks Are Just the Beginning

On October 1st, the word shopping simply changes.  It changes in the way it’s delivered, in the way it’s received,  and more importantly, in the way it’s implied.  “Honey, I’m going shopping, do you need anything?”  “No thanks.  Wait, where are you going?”  In our heads, we’re thinking this is a quick run to the grocery store, but in our souls, we know that’s simply not true!

Come October 1st, the holidays are fair game for a shopper.  If we’re lucky, the Halloween costumes have been purchased already, but chances are they haven’t.  Even worse, for some reason a lot of kids can’t seem to grasp the concept of reusing costumes.  “Maybe your friends won’t notice you were a zombie last year.  If you wear your zombie socks, you would look totally different.  When I was your age I had already been a vampire for 8 years in a row.  People literally thought I had permanent dried blood on my face!”  “Dad, that’s boring, we need to go shopping.”  This trap is tough to avoid.

Once the pumpkin socks, or the ghost socks, or the witch socks are out of the drawer, you know the big shopping days are right ahead of you.  When we see jack-o-lantern socks on all the ankles in the house or office, we know it’s that time of year.  We also know that the next 13 weeks are going to be a shopper’s bliss.

Here Comes Black Friday

Black Friday - doesn’t matter who you are or how you shop, if you’re a retailer or a customer, these two words can be as meaningful as the vows spoken on your wedding day.  We know people who plan their entire shopping bonanza around this one day; the Friday after Thanksgiving.  We also know retailers who look forward to this day for months, as all the craziness adds up to profit.

Many of us have never been much for Black Friday shopping.  Lots of people genuinely prefer to go to the mom and pop shops on Main Street America, where the smiles are plenty, the shelves are stocked and we’re not getting run over by an 80-year-old woman driving a motorized cart, while hauling a 55 inch flat screen TV.

Black Friday is a shopper’s paradise.  Get up, perhaps wait in line while it’s still dark outside, maybe even have a shopping buddy to go with you and make a day out of it while you wait for those doors to open.  When you’re a shopper, the possibility of getting run over when the doors open is part of the risk, because the deals found inside are the reward.  An elbow to the face?  A metal cart scraping your Achilles heel?  A hip check going around a corner trying to get to the register?  It’s all part of the shopper’s paradise we call the holidays!

One Case In Particular

One Socksmither tells his Black Friday horror story: Several years ago, I went to my wife’s side of the family’s house for Thanksgiving.  She and her cousin had gone shopping for the big dinner of course, seemingly days before.  We all know that Thanksgiving can take its toll on family and shoppers alike, but when they made plans to get up at 3 am to hit a sale on Black Friday, I seriously thought they had gone crazy.  When I tried checking my wife into a mental institution, claiming I had no idea who she was, as the woman I married had never done that before, I was told that reason alone simply wasn’t enough to commit her.  Needless to say, I still thought she was crazy.

Wearing knee-high socks, tall boots and heavy jackets, my wife, her cousin and her aunt, blazed their way to one store after the other, shopping for things I had no idea we needed, and buying things that we wouldn’t use for another year.  But in the end, the look of success and accomplishment, the stories of their shopper’s battleground and victories put smiles on their faces and that’s what matters the most.  They created memories that are still talked about to this day.

Online Convenience vs. In-Store Experience

The world has changed.  Shoppers have changed.  Small town, main street America is in a battle with a much larger shopper’s world, and this world is bigger than their stores could ever be.  What was once an outing for a family, walking up and down the sidewalk, looking in windows and discovering the hidden treasures and unique gifts inside, has given way to search, point, click, and purchase.  All for the sake of convenience.

For the sake of shopping, let’s hope the shoppers shop.  Whether in droves, groups, couples or flying solo, let’s hope shoppers find their way back to Main Street, back to horse and buggy rides and carolers, to hot chocolate and gift wrapping, running into friends on the street in small town America, meeting for drinks at one’s favorite restaurants, supporting the shop owners, restaurateurs, and ultimately, being the best shoppers we can possibly be.

This holiday season, let’s not focus on the convenience of shopping, let’s shop for the experience and joy of it.

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