Thursday, April 28, 2011


I’m afraid I’m a dinosaur when it comes to shopping. Online might be convenient, but it isn’t fun and has other shortcomings as far as I’m concerned.

I stopped in Chicago on my way to Washington DC for Malice Domestic. Though the weather was drizzling and chilly, I took the train downtown. No matter the weather downtown Chicago is always a treat.

My first stop as always was the formerly Marshall Field’s now Macy’s. When I walked into the block square department store, I was greeted with a sensory delight. I came in through the purse department and enjoyed seeing all the colors and styles and could even touch them. The cosmetic department was full of wonderful fragrances to try. How can you possibly buy a perfume you’ve never smelled or had the chance to see how it goes with your chemistry?

Up the escalator were floors and floors of displays of linens, menswear, beautiful dishes, shoes, and, of course, clothes. I haven’t been shopping in a while except at places like Costco, so I really enjoyed the lighting and the way everything was displayed rather than piled on a table.

I had forgotten how nice it was to browse and look at things.

Back on the street there was the bustle of shoppers, workers at lunch and students from the various schools downtown. The same preacher with the portable microphone was standing outside Old Navy, with the same warnings against what he thinks are terrible sins.

It isn’t quite the same as the old days when from Randoph to Van Buren there was just one department store after the other. But there are still lots of stores lining the street. And had I headed up north on Michigan Avenue, I would have found Nordstrom’s Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and a whole vertical mall, along with stores like Eddie Bauer, Apple, and Burberry.

I wasn’t really looking for anything beyond some stickers for a game a group of my writer friends and I are putting on at Malice. But as I was going though Macy’s there was this wonderful taupe ruffly top tempting me from a hangar. It was perfect for one of the weekend events and fit just right. I never would have found it online because I didn’t even know I was looking for it until I found it. And, of course, I wouldn’t have known how it fit, or been able to take it home with me. I haven’t been so happy about a purchase in a long time.

Online shopping might be great for finding something you need, but a real store can’t be beat for finding what you didn’t even know existed.

Walmart has announced that they are offering online grocery shopping. It would never work for me. Aside from the fact, I like going to the grocery store, I certainly don’t want some faceless person, throwing in just any produce or sending me dairy products that are a few days before the use by date. What about frozen food? How can you be sure it didn’t defrost in transit? I don’t buy meat, poultry or fish, but if I did, I’d certainly want to pick it out personally. Shopping for food isn’t an exact science. I mean, sometimes all the peaches look like green rocks and you decide to buy something else instead. I guess it could work for boxes of Rice Krispies and Twinkies.

How do you feel about shopping online?


Dru said...

I love shopping online only because I hate crowds and every time I need an item, the stores never have them and by the time I chase through several stores, Amazon or any other online retail store would have delivered the item.

I have friends who buy their groceries online but the produce they'll go to a physical store.

Planner said...

The online shopping experience truly can tempt you with all kinds of things you didn't know you were looking for. If you're a regular online shopper at a particular store, they'll have all your past purchases in their database. With algorithms that determine that shoppers who buy x and y will often buy z, the store will offer you items that you really, truly would love to have. And that's like walking into a store where everything is your taste.

I particularly like shopping at where customer service is top-notch and customer reviews give you a good idea of real-world experience with the products you're considering.

I know someone who loves buying organic produce online. I think it would work if you know that you'll only receive the highest quality produce.

Online shopping is great during the holidays when you can shop anytime you want without worrying about crowds and hard-to-find parking.

Happy online and offline shopping!

Betty Hechtman said...

I can see the points of online shopping and do buy something things that way, but I still love department stores.