Shopping has always been one of my favorite activities. Even as a young girl, I remember having epic shopping trips with my mom, my Aunt Linda, and my siblings and cousins in tow. We’d pile into Linda’s mini-van, crank up the Michael Bolton and head out on an adventure. Maybe we would go to the mall, or Gold Circle, or the JC Penney outlet to find treasures, with the promise of an Icee and a soft pretzel at the end. I remember those days with such fondness!
In high school, my friends and I would wander the mall on Friday nights. We’d eat cookies from Mrs. Fields, take pictures in the photo booth, pick up something new to wear at Deb or Maurice’s, and grab candy at Mr. Bulky to sneak into a movie. This was in the 90’s before the mall curfews of today. We were well behaved and thought we were the epitome of mid-90’s cool.
Even now, on long summer days, when I am bored out of my mind, I will head to the mall to take advantage of the air conditioning or Barnes and Noble to find a new beach read and a latte. I LOVE shopping. It makes me happy to step into a store to see if I can find a bargain. I love filling my cart at Target with a whole bunch of stuff I don’t really need. I like being able to chat with sales associates about what’s new and trending.
But something sad and terrible is happening in America at an alarming rate. Brick and mortar stores keep shuttering their doors, never to be heard from again. I was wandering in Dress Barn today, one of the places soon to be added to the list of used to be stores, and the sales associate asked me, “Where will you shop now?” I rattled off a list of places that I will keep going to. She sighed and said, “Don’t get used to it. They will be gone soon too.” Boooooooooo! I instantly felt deflated as I left the store.
Most people blame the rise of online shopping for the decline of the physical store. I know that’s true and I am guilty of online shopping just as much as the next guy. But please keep in mind that, as a plus sized woman, we have HAD to shop online for years. Most stores keep very little plus size merchandise in the store, and what little they do have is basic and has been shoved into a tiny corner of the store as an afterthought. Online shopping has been a necessity.
Yes, Amazon is awesome. Yes, my mail carrier and my UPS deliverer know my address by heart. Yes, my Prime subscription is used frequently. Yes, it is easy to tell Alexa that I need something, stat. But even with its next day delivery, there are some things that Amazon CAN’T DO.
If brick and mortar stores die off completely, where am I going to go to get a last minute gift when my disorganization gets the best of me? Where will I go to get something to wear on a spirit day at school, the night before it happens? How will I see an outfit in person and know whether I like the color or not? How will I know what something will look like on a body shaped like mine? What will happen to spontaneity in shopping? How will I ever satisfy my instant gratification?
Yes, online shopping is easy, but it’s not as fun. In causing stores to shut their doors forever, we are doing much more than creating empty real estate and unemployment. We are losing a place to socialize with loved ones. We are losing a space to wander and plan our dream lives. We are losing a place to try things on and create a personal sense of style. Put your phone down, America, and start shopping. Please stop killing my freaking stores!