Writing Challenge Day 22: Confessions of a Shopaholic

I used to hate to shop.

As a little girl, my mom had to force me into the stores. I’d rather sit on the bench in the middle of the mall (remember those?) and watch people. People have always fascinated me.

You know the game we play when we imagine the lives of those around us? The couple sitting there eating dinner—it’s surely their first date. They’re looking a little tentative, trying too hard to make conversation and smiling way too much and way too big. The little kid who just pulled away from his parents and is running towards the fountain—he’s really running away from his little sister, who’s screaming in the stroller. Clearly, he’s had it, too. The older man shopping alone with a click of his cane and a hint of a smile. He looks spry and eager for the next purchase; he’s probably buying something for his new love, having found it again at 85.

People watching now consists of Zoom, Teams, and WebEx, if the other people can get their cameras to work.

But shopping is now a “thing” of epic proportion. Of course, I switched gears on my shopping opinion once I reached puberty. And for me and my mom, it became our time together, our outing every week, a chance to spend a valuable evening consisting of lots of goodies, a nice dinner with wine, and some lively conversation.

So what did I do when COVID hit? I got her an American Express Gold card. And I passed on all the searching expertise I’ve gained over the years. I mean, I didn’t just start shopping online after the pandemic. But now, it’s on my list of favorite pastimes. Perhaps you can relate.

Do you remember when COVID first hit and we were huddled inside our houses feeling like lost prisoners, and even the sound of a lawn mower was a welcome reminder that another human being actually existed? This is the new role our delivery drivers play for us—not just the connection to them and the realness they bring, but the things they bring, a connection from some other place. I have a security camera that tells me when someone’s at the door. And it always feels like my birthday or Christmas when I know something is waiting for me to open.

In the beginning of the AC period of our history (aka After COVID), my neighbors must have thought I’d lost my ever-loving mind. I admit it. I evolved quickly into a seasoned pandemic shopper while maintaining my commitment to keeping everything clean. This meant boxes stayed on the porch for at least three days; after all, that’s how long they told us it takes for this thing to die on cardboard, right? Then, there was the unpacking on the porch, the spray bottle full of a really strong alcohol mixture, and wiping down everything before bringing it into the house. Then the handwashing and the return trip to the porch to dispose of the contaminated trash. It also meant more trips to our neighborhood dump. The man who manages the cardboard station knows me by name now. I’ve gotten really good at breaking down boxes, disposing of the innards properly, and skipping my way between the bins happily, knowing I’ve done my recycling duty, perhaps not properly thinking of all the waste I helped create!

Some days, my porch is 10 boxes deep. I’d like to say it’s only things my mom and I need, but the term “need” has taken on a new meaning. If I can’t browse in the store, I can do it online and I can do it better. Stronger. Faster. A million-dollar retail woman.

The holidays are upon us now, which means my porch is even more festively decorated with deliveries. It means I got my Christmas shopping done in record time. It also means Santa still has a job. If he can’t come down the chimney, fear not; he’ll visit you on your porch, when you’re sleeping, when you’re awake, and whether or not you’ve been good.

Hold on. I hear a delivery truck.

Anonymous
  • That meme  ....it got me...surprise laughter over here.

    I also have a camera outside my front door, so I get notified of packages. Having worked from home for so long now, I was already an avid online shopper (the convenience!). This year, I added groceries, pet supplies, and prescriptions - for the dog, I don't have any thankfully - to my list of delivered supplies. 

    I don't miss grocery shopping, but I do miss some things from HEB that I don't get anymore...like fresh-made tortillas. Like you, , I tended to have my fun shopping outings with my mom, so I definitely miss the all day meandering outings to the outlet mall which always included lunch and dinner - and sometimes breakfast! One day, we will get back to that, but it is nice to have the convenience and the absolute luxury of being able to get any supplies I need same day or within 2 days at latest without leaving the house.

  • I treat shopping, either online or in-person, as the replacement for my hunter/gatherer role.  I love electronic gadgets, but have been able to control my urges to buy them.  Thank goodness for Amazon shopping Lists!  Anytime I get a hankering for some item--especially something over $50, I just drop it in that bucket and wait at least two weeks.  If I still want/need it at that time, I might buy it.

    In the mean time, before purchasing an item, I research it online diligently, looking at reviews and competing products.  Sometimes it means joining new groups online to learn enough to ask an intelligent question.  But often I don't need to ask--just joining the group and then using the Search function to find every time someone's mentioned the item I'm considering buying, or the perceived need (or want) they'd like to fill.

    Graphing my online shopping from 2010 to 2020, I see a trend not unlike COVID-19 cases.  Fortunately my shopping peaked at 90 instances in 2020, and I attribute a lot of that to picking up a new hobby (5th-wheel camping, and the pickup truck that goes with it). 

    rschroeder_0-1608676715951.png

    Now that the warm weather's done in Minnesota, I'm done shopping for camping items.  My kids are grown & gone, so Christmas gift shopping isn't a significant thing anymore.

    Swift packets (and Packages!) to you all this holiday season!

    Rick Schroeder

    In the Little Red House

    In the Saginaw Wood

  • The wife hates shopping and for the same reason I thought you were going to talk about. Her mom use to drag her out as well but that experience stuck with her and to this day she hates shopping. I do most of the shopping but I have a list and stick to it. A majority of our shopping has been online, but that is not very different the BC (aka Before Covid). We do bring it in immediately but the box doesn't stay in and we wash hands thoroughly. It is amazing how many people haven't adjusted and still do go to malls.

  • I enjoy shopping, but I like to do my research, no matter what I am buying. If I am shopping online, I will check ratings and look to what people I follow on a topic use. If looking for investments, I will research different companies, something for which I find The Motley Fool very useful; I've used them since they were on AOL before AOL connected to the Internet). If I am looking for clothes, I won't buy anything without trying it on, since I've found it a waste of time. I've been known to go from one end of an outlet mall to the other seeing what fits, what the prices are, then go back and get the things I find the best values. Even when food shopping, I track which items are on sale and which items tend to be less expensive at which stores.

    I also get a kick out of helping others when out shopping. If I'm out with my wife, I'll check for things I think she might like and bring them up to her. If she is trying things on and finds she needs a different size, I'll grab it. We both got a chuckle once when a fellow shopper, seeing me running around the store, asked if she could borrow me for a while.

    With us in corona-time, the big shopping trips are out. I still go out for groceries and prescriptions, but most everything else is done online. Since I won't buy clothes or shoes without trying them on (one exception: reordering something I already have and know fits), I am lucky that the pandemic has led to dressing more casually. I have been able to use parts of my wardrobe that haven't seen much use in years.

  • Shopaholic only when it comes to family, with me its too simple - when i need something i just get into a store or mall or where ever its available and i am done within a few minutes. Most of the times my orders are placed online.

    But then its fun shopping for my family members, trust me it isn't easy to impress them though , i would let them take their own sweet time and once they are done selecting they would as well come up and ask if its fine or good or great and then there goes another iteration of filtering, aggregation etc ...... finally after a couple of hours they choose a couple of things and i always turn back at the billing counter one last time to check if they are happy and only when they nod i get it billed accordingly, if in case the nod if half hearted then there goes another round of shopping, its kinda loop & i am ok with it