Hitting the shops has lost its shine
Sitting on my desk is a picture of a fox wearing a green jacket and pink tie. Thanks to a childhood immersed in Beatrix Potter, I’m enchanted by anthropomorphised animals (and smarty-pants words, it seems) but, mostly, I love my fox because he made me laugh.
You see, I ordered him online and he arrived this morning wrapped in recycled paper. “Hi, Angela,” said the note that came with him. “You smell nice and your hair looks great today.”
With service like that, what’s not to love about internet shopping? Plus, you do it in your pyjamas, and it’s delivered right to your door.
For me, real, old-fashioned, use-your-legs shopping used to have the promise and thrill of a hot date – spying the perfect jacket was as exciting as going in for a first kiss. Now, though, a trawl through Paddo or Chapel Street is about as appealing as a drunken fumble in an alleyway with the bloke from accounts.
To the toddlers screaming in their strollers in the mall, I’m with you, kids. So what’s happened? To steal a Keneally-ism, have I deserted the shops or have the shops deserted me?
My friend Sarah agrees shopping has lost its allure. A few weeks ago, she headed to London department store Harvey Nichols to buy a hat to wear to the royal wedding.
(As in, inside the Abbey. I know, it’s amazing she still bothers to answer my emails.)
“I used to virtually dribble with excitement in Harvey Nicks,” she says. “This time, all I could think was, gosh, look at all those sunglasses. I can’t choose because my fashion eyes have gone blind, and I’m glad I can remember where the escalator is, because I don’t want to be here long.”
I’m sure the ritual of shopping is as gorgeous as it ever was for those with money, time and inclination. But when you have two hours wedged between one child’s soccer match and another’s haircut, a $198 bill for ballet lessons, and you have to find a frock, like, right now, retail is anything but therapy.
I’m not so jaded that I’ve slid into elasticated slacks. But after reading Tanya Ha’s book Greeniology: How to Live Well, Be Green and Make a Difference, my retail lust is now filtered through a series of questions: Do I need it? Do I have something else like it? Can I afford it?
Which brings me to the shops. CEOs, your eight stock-drops a month mean nothing if your staff are snooty and your changing rooms are badly lit. The ‘spend and save’ promotions are great, but if we’re in-store the day before it starts, do us a favour and put the shoes on hold. You don’t have our size? Don’t mention “Wodonga is showing two” if you’re not prepared to order it in for us.
As for you, bespectacled lingerie matrons, stay close. There’s nothing worse than realising you need a 12C (if only) when you’re stuck in a changing room with a 12B.
While in London last year, I chanced upon a store called Anthropologie. What’s so special about it is the fact it sources the most divine clothes and homewares and styles them with vintage props and scented candles.
In the sky-lit changing rooms, an assistant wearing a wireless headset instructed a colleague on the floor to bring different sizes. As I mused over a grey dress, she magicked up a necklace that was so me, I could have kissed her. She even understood the small matter of my mortgage and helped me whittle down 17 items to eight.
Retailers, I know the internet is kicking you hard but, remember, nothing beats the flushed-cheek joy of being seduced by a shop.
Catch Angela Mollard on Weekend Today, Sundays at 7am on the Nine Network.
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