My kids are millennials and grew up with Amazon. Now that they’ve grown up and have the money, packages come to my house two or three times a week. (My daughter lives with me.) When my son used my house as a delivery address, it was a lot more often. Individual packages, separate days.
During the end of the pandemic, this way of life became more than a habit. Some things couldn’t even be found in the real world, only by clicking on a screen. So everyone has become even more accustomed to finding everything online.
I understand the call, trust me. Hear about a book, movie, or new gadget, go online, there it is. The next day, it’s on your porch.
Now that we can venture back, I have a simple and drastic suggestion. Back to the stores. The model we live in now, where there appears to be an Amazon or UPS truck on every block, means that a large number of deliveries use a large chunk of the world’s resources. It’s great for Amazon (Jeff Bezos burns our money at the edge of space) and gives jobs to local drivers – and a lot of underpaid and overworked warehouse workers with little to no benefits. , mostly in other states.
The business model of the stores, however, is that a lot less big trucks deliver a lot more items to one place, and we’re going to buy them. This provides jobs for the local clerks, cashiers, assistants, managers and drivers who live here, work here and spend their money here..
Plus, there is the other common aspect of shopping. For several years my father, brother and I, often accompanied by a tasteful teenager, would spend a day shopping in late November or early December, either in the malls south of San Marcos or later. , after dad became less mobile, at giant Barnes & Noble in La Cantera. It was totally against my nature. I am not a browser or a buyer. I’m like Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good As You Get”, standing in the doorway of a men’s clothing store, pointing up and saying, “I’m going to take that blazer. And that tie.”
But when I finally devoted a day to it, I understood. I went shopping. Going from store to store, browsing family and friends in my head, wondering who likes what. Even being with another family member, seeing him pick something up and smiling at him and making a mental note myself to come back and get him. Look at something, feel it in my hands, imagine it in someone else’s hands, think Nope, then come back for it two hours later.
Take a break for lunch and compare our days so far. (Lunch is great on a day of shopping. It’s a reward you give yourself halfway through the quest.) And I thought, I’m finally shopping. It’s a mini-vacation. It’s spending the day in Shopping World, which is tangent to the everyday world but completely remote. In Shopping World everything is possible, everyone’s happiness is in front of you. And the bills don’t come due until next month.
In Shopping World you also have the experience of seeing other happy people, other people imagining happy people in their life. Maybe someone is even looking at something, notices that you are paying attention, that you are holding up something they are considering, and that you nod and smile. A great moment between strangers.
Shopping in person has other advantages and comforts. A store like Tuesday Morning may not be as well stocked as some department stores, but it is stocked differently.. Because they get their wares from multiple sources, it’s a slightly different store every week. Then there is the service. At a local bookstore like The Twig or Nowhere Bookstore, not only are the employees eager to find the right books for you, but chances are you have an ongoing personal relationship with some of them.
When I walk into my neighborhood hardware store, Schnabel’s (which sells toys this time of year), someone immediately asks me what I’m looking for, then takes me there. Or let me browse if that’s what I prefer. The first time I walked into the store after buying my house in this neighborhood, someone turned around at the cash register and greeted me by name. She turned out to be the mother of one of my high school mates. So almost as soon as I became a neighbor here, I learned that I knew other neighbors. While shopping.
We all know of little shops (and cafes and restaurants for this mid-season award) that we love not only because of what they have to sell, but also because of our memories of them, which store with people, some for a long time. But living in familiar places.
Wouldn’t it be nice to find this world and this life again? It’s not far. Just leave the house.