Friday, November 26, 2010

Why I'm Not Shopping Today

By Tanya Parker Mills

I've never been one to go along with the crowd. I don't know if it's pride or cantankerousness (probably a bit of both), but when masses of people say, "Let's do this, or read this, or see this," I tend to stand back, more than a little dubious. I still haven't read "The Work and the Glory" series. I only read the first book of the "Twilight" series because my son wanted me to read it with him. On that game show "Want to Be a Millionaire?," I would definitely trust the audience option last (even though, time and again, the audience has proven to get it right).

But that is not why I stay at home on so-called "Black Friday." (Okay, in all honesty, that is PART of the reason I stay home on the biggest shopping day of the year. I don't like crowds, particularly when shopping.)

It's the whole American shopping experience that I've grown to detest. As it has evolved, it has become less personal, more time oriented, and with a lot less space in which to maneuver. That may sound strange coming from someone who grew up loving the cramped souks in Baghdad and Beirut. But that was a whole different shopping experience. Lots of people go there, but they meander in small groups, never hurrying. Because there are so many little shops and stalls, you still feel as if you are a valued customer. Why? Because each shop owner treats you as if you are the most important client on earth. They offer you a chair and a cup of tea (which, when refused, they replace with your favorite soda) while they present you with their wares. It is the most hospitable way to shop and bears no resemblance to America's "Black Friday." So I guess I was spoiled.

In the souk, you can always find something unique, some artifact or trinket that seems to speak to you alone, something for which you don't have to stand in a long line out in the cold. Rather than being told by a thousand ads that this is something "you must have," you discover it like a bit of treasure. Think of the souk experience as a combination of antique shopping and Nordstrom's (where they actually wait on you, the customer). My husband thinks I like Nordstrom's because I like expensive clothes...but it's really more about the service. It harks back to childhood memories where, indeed, the customer was king.

Now, if you could find me a souk in my neck of the woods, I'd be there--even on Black Friday.

8 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Tanya, but for different reasons...maybe. I don't read best sellers unless they've been out at least two decades, preferably three. And shopping? Not for me in the best of times, and particularly not on Black Friday. It may have to do with upbringing, because we always lived places where there weren't a lot of stores. I spent lots of time with my nose in the Sears Roebuck catalog. That may be why I do so much of my shopping on line. It's just another catalog experience.

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  2. I don't go out on the day after Thanksgiving either. My daughters do and I shake my head at the war tales they bring home afterwards!

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  3. I'm sitting here thinking about finding a couple of classic movies I adore in an online store so I can order them. Go to a mall (not in my neighborhood) or fight crowds for something I don't really want? Not me!

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  4. Strangely enough, I'm visiting a weird little city called Roswell, New Mexico, and they have these adorable little shops clustered around the UFO museum--I'm not kidding--anyway, the shop's owners welcome each patron with a smile and questions about where they're from and such. They may not offer you tea or soda, but it's a far cry from the elbow knocking experience in Best Buy and WalMart

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  5. Ahh, Tanya, you speak to my heart. I don't do black Friday shopping either. In fact I pretty much hate shopping and avoid it as much as possible- crowds, noise and the constant bombardment of STUFF. When I do make my weekly grocery trip I put in my head phones and focus on my detailed list. Now as for the type of "shopping" you are talking about at the souk- come to Portland I will take you to the cutest neighborhood filled with little shops where your are greeted as you enter and taken care of while you browse. Sorry, no tea or sodas offered but they will point you to the best gellato place.

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  6. Liz, I love catalogues too and I do most of my holiday shopping online. No crowds (that you can see or bump into, anyway)!

    Joan, someone was telling me over Thanksgiving dinner about the game "Don't touch me." The challenge is to be the last person to get touched (of your group) during a Black Friday shopping trip.

    Marsha, I'm with you all the way. The best way to spend Black Friday is cocooned in my living room with some great movies and hot chocolate.

    Debra and Nicole, next time I'm in your neck of the woods, I'm calling you guys. That sounds like the kind of shopping I can handle.

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  7. Gosh I'm in the minority here. I LOVE Black Friday shopping. I love the smiles on people's faces, the joy of finding just that perfect gift (which I did) on sale and the happiness of the crowd. I dunno maybe my experiences are unique.

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  8. Way to stand up for Black Friday, Terri. I've done it a few times and found the crowds pleasant--not the horror stories you often hear, thankfully. It's like we were all as crazy as the next person to be out shopping so early--there was a comraderie.

    That being said, I just don't care enough about getting the good deal. I'd rather sleep in after all that Thanksgiving pie!

    And I do miss the souks in Israel, Tanya. But then, I miss everything about Israel.

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