Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friends don't let friends buy retail.

My mom and I used to love to shop together.

The mall was our destination, and we'd spend hours wandering around the fancy stores.

She was so easy to be with - we'd saunter, chat and shop. Then we'd lunch, then we'd shop some more.

Some stores featured a man in a tuxedo playing classical music on a grand piano. Each store smelled like fancy perfume. All the clerks were impeccably dressed, with manners and service that were Top Drawer.

My mom has been gone for 10 years, and if she were still around, she'd be shocked at the current state of retail shopping, what with the popularity of open air malls, Target, Walmart and thrift stores.

She'd be especially shocked at the stores to which I point my car. The world of thrift was not on my mom's radar. Ten years ago, it wasn't on my radar, either.

But I've learned this past decade that the homogeneity of malls may be comforting and predictable, but it's not very much fun.

Sorry, mom. I've realized that the retail world is a nice place to visit, but it's very, very expensive.

And like being raised a Lutheran, buying things at Full Blown Retail at malls isn't something that I have to do once I have a choice.

Like learning that your parents are actually fallible humans with lives that extend past your needs and desires, or that a woman you thought you knew used to be a man, I've met a cadre of people who make it a point to shop thriftily who would have otherwise flown way under my Thrift Store radar.

You'd never guess that these folks cull through the discards of others.

That being said, in homage to my mom, there are some things I'll always buy new.


Art. Usually.

And jewelry. I bought this totally cool ring in Evergreen last weekend. You may be distracted by my old lady hands, but the ring on my finger is totally cool - a large ring with two smaller rings inside the larger ring. I love it.

And I'll always remember the day I found it. I'll value the circumstance that found me in Evergreen, staring at this cool ring that I had to have right then. And I was willing to pay retail.

I had that special feeling. Just like the feeling I get in a thrift store when I find something I have to have right then.

Rarely have I found items that I stare at with complete admiration when I'm in the midst of the vacuous confines of a mall.

So that brings me back to my mom. If she were here, I'm sure we'd first have a tearful, beautiful, incredulous reunion. There would be conversation.

She'd be happy for my life's twists and turns that have brought me to the interesting, colorful place where I now find myself.

Shortly after our happy, decade-long separation, I'm sure my mom would want to go shopping.

I'd love to drive her to the places I currently enjoy, regardless of their lack of pianists and their profusion of All Things Casual.

Because it's becoming increasingly clear - friends don't let friends buy retail.

I imagine that moment of reunion with my mom all the time. Sometimes we're at the mall.

But times change.


  1. What a lovely tribute to your mom. Thanks for writing it. But, dude, it's an arrow through my pawnbroker's daughter heart that you only buy jewelry retail.

  2. Ah. I was remiss. Pawn shops are rich with atmosphere, especially your dad's place, with his big smile.