The reason that I buy things off eBay is not just because they’re less expensive. Or rather, not only because they’re less expensive, but because:
- There is only one item, like it or not
- It’s mailed to you
- You don’t have to experience a fitting room
I don’t shop.
Some of the worst experiences of my life were spent shopping. As a young teenager, I would try things on and my mother would give them a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Her best friend would repeat the process. I would stand there, itching and constrained, feeling the way I imagine people feeling who’ve committed a crime. Even when I was compelled to shop, the first thing was always the thing I bought; there was no need to go further. (I still believe this, wedding dress or raincoat, there’s a reason why you notice one thing first.)
My mother and all her friends and all my friends were all shoppers. They roved store to store like packs of jackals, sometimes pausing for a meal and a discussion of the territory already covered. Salesclerks (those were actual living people who sold things and knew, if you should ask, what store they were working for) knew her by name and would greet her. She shopped at a ladies boutique too, in the Chicago neighborhood where we lived, where the owner kept aside things she thought would suit my glamorous mother. The trying-on process was accompanied, literally, by cakes and ale. It was about 1979, and that was the first time I ever saw anyone pay $200 for a dress.
My mother despaired of me as a fashionable woman. I was most happy to wear soft jeans and much-washed sweaters. Although I’m not like that now, and I will happily dress up to give a speech or have a dinner out, I still can’t abide the idea of going to a store and pawing through different colors and sizes of all-the-same-thing (which, I might add, is my daughter’s idea of heaven).
The store delivers groceries now. The store charges a tariff of $6 for the order. This is the price of a large latte and it is so fair a tariff for allowing me to avoid those miles of aisles that I want to weep in gratitude when the Pea Pod truck shows up.
I’ll never shop again. Mail order was the answer to a prayer. Amazon was a great idea for busy people – and sometimes nutty people. With that said, I would rather return 100 things by mail than waste a single hour in a store. The only store I ever enjoyed being in was the Harry Winston store in Beverly Hills and that was because it was not really like a store but like a movie set for a movie about exclusivity and privilege. – JM