Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I've Lost That Buy'n Feeling

In my road warrior travel days, the sight of a shopping mall made me quiver with joy. Instead of sitting in front of a TV watching nonsense, I could wander the night away, up and down the shiny tiled halls of the Great Temple of Materialism.

For the few months I lived in suburban Chicago, the malls were my salvation. Instead of sitting in traffic for an hour or so getting back to my squalid little hole, I would stop at the local mall and wait until traffic was clear. If it was going to take me two hours to get home, it might as well be an hour and a half shopping and one half hour driving instead of sitting the whole time on the "express" highway. I especially enjoyed it when I was out by Woodfield Mall, a huge expanse of stores under one roof and then of course the new additions along side. After dinner at a sushi place I found, I would wander the mall, out from the cold and drear of a Chicago winter, darting in and out of all the stores. Inevitably some new item caught my eye and would attach itself to me. Maybe a new tie, shirt or belt, maybe some designer undies (accessorizing is important), perhaps a new CD, or most special, a new piece of Calphalon cookware or a new set of glassware would end up in a sack in my back seat.

Not any more.

What gives?? Maturity, more sense, less room, less money? Is that the reason shopping no longer appeals to me? Probably all the above. I am not destitute, but I make less than I used to yet I get by quite nicely. I certainly have much less room than I used to have so the argument I have with myself "where would I put it?" takes on added weight. The need to show off and keep up with the Joneses has dimmed. Thus this new philosophy of frugalness, practicality and reason has replaced the one revolving around getting it takes care of wanting it.

One of the few things I ever learned from my father was "buy the best you can afford, take good care of it and it will last". That is why he rarely bought new cars, houses, clothes or much of anything else. And I agree. It is wiser to buy a good item once than a poorly made one 4-5 times. That is why our 60 year old Crosley refrigerator works, as well as the 50's vintage appliances in the kitchen and the expensive wood floors in the house still look new.

Thus it went last night as I wandered around a mall, the Oak Park in Overland Park, KS to be precise, for a bit. I have it in my mind that my good winter coat needs replacing and that perhaps at the end of the season I could find a bargain. Macy's had a nice one, but it was only 50% off instead of the 60% of the others. I almost bought one on line, but a last minute hesitation before clicking "buy" made me rethink if it was really what I needed. And it wasn't on hind sight. Dillard's at the mall had even less than Macy's and I did not see the need to visit Penny's or Nordstroms. A glance by the housewares at Macy's had no effect on me. Not even the Calphalon... where would I put it? I have pots and pans that I do not use and certainly had enough to make a gourmet dinner for 20 a couple weeks ago. Shirts... plenty. Ties... don't wear them anymore, undies..plenty, belt...have a brown one and a black one plus the alligator one I got in Nicaragua.. all good.

I think it took me longer to get to the mall and back than I spent inside it. Driving back I reflected on my poor old coat. A stylish back Liz Claiborne leather car coat, she cost me a good penny when I bought her in 2002. And yes, it was one of those "look what came home with me" buys. But like my dad taught me, I bought a good one and took care of it. Just recently though, I have noted the ravages of time and two buttons have came off. Sewing on a shirt button is easy, getting a heavy duty coat button back on leather is a bit of a different story. But I am resigned now to clean her up, take the buttons to someone who can fix it and wear it for another year or so, or until something catches my eye.. 75% off in my size.

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