What makes a true shopping monkey? First let me say that I’ve come to realize that some of us are divided into camps. There are those for whom shopping is all about shoes, clothing and personal adornments. I am not necessarily one of those (although I had more of an eye for fashion when I was younger and thinner). The rest of us are drawn to dinnerware, glassware, linens, objets d’art, sofas, and the like. Nothing gets us going quite like another addition to that ironstone collection, or new champagne flutes, or fluffy new towels. The signs are usually there at a young age. My friends laughed when they found out what I wanted for my sixteenth birthday: an embroidered pillow I saw at a crafts market (a car was not even on the radar screen, of course). I didn’t think it was so funny: I’d been buying stuff like that for years with my babysitting money. I got hooked on garage sales at age nine, shopping with my mom, and searching for tiny treasures. My very first purchase – a wonderful black and white pottery vase – stayed with me until it got smashed in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. Somewhere around here I bet I still have the bag of shards for a never-going-to-happen crafts project.
One of my favorite early memories of shopping was our holiday pilgrimages to a shop that was housed on a ferry boat docked in Sausalito, California. It had these long, wide-plank floors that squeaked and the whole place swayed almost imperceptibly as you shopped. They had a long section that was all bins filled with fun little toys (including lots of “made in Japan” tin toys that are now collectible). Ah, pure heaven. I was allowed to pick two or three things, and the decisions were exquisitely difficult. Afterwards, we always went to the little shop that was packed with European ribbons, braid and trimmings; another visual and tactile emporium of treats. When you bought something there, they packaged it in a little cloth bag finished with a shiny red embossed label. Those bags were so sweet I could hardly bring myself to take out the precious yard of ribbon inside.
Will our youngest generation have fond remembrances of shopping in Wal-Mart with mom?