Tag: Shopping

Going Old School with Amazon

I love modern life where I can order anything on Amazon. I mean anything. But Amazon’s just a catalog company, and catalog shopping has existed for generations. The first mail-order catalog meant for the general public was printed by Montgomery Ward 1872.

In the late 1800s, people could buy anything from catalogs, just like we can now. Not only that, when the catalog got old, it could be reused as toilet paper in the outhouse. Can’t do that with Amazon.

Sears sold houses. My sister’s home was built in the 1920s, and she found a description of it in a vintage catalog. How cool is that? Amazon sells houses too – tiny house kits. Nothing has changed.

People awaited shipments from Wells Fargo. Before Wells Fargo was a bank with reputation problems, it was a stagecoach line. There’s a song about the Wells Fargo Wagon, made famous in The Music Man. Click the picture below for the YouTube video.

In the song, people are waiting for these things.

I found them all on Amazon. I can still have them delivered to my home. Well, the cannon is only a tiny replica, but it’s there. I didn’t even know what a mackinaw was, but Amazon did. Apparently, it’s a jacket.

We need a song about the Amazon Truck. Maybe a rap.

Yeah. Yeah.
Thinking of the Amazon truck.
It’s comin’ any time. The white van with no windows.
At least I think it’s the Amazon truck.
Hope it has my gourmet spaghetti maker, pencil skirt, and hammer.

Yeah. Yeah.
The doorbell rang and the guy didn’t wait.
Must be the Amazon truck.
Well, the truck’s got a logo now. Moving up.
A big brown box with Amazon Prime tape waits for me.

Yeah. Yeah.
The automatic vacuum system I forgot I ordered with one click.
And the video game my neighbor’s kid slipped in the cart when he borrowed my phone.
Thinking of the Amazon truck.

Yeah. Yeah.



Growing up, the best part of Christmas was the fat toy catalog that came in the mail. My sister and I poured over it for hours, circling the items we wanted and writing our initials next to them. We circled something on every page.

Even when my kids were growing up, Toys R Us sent out a big catalog. Hours of fun and dreaming ensued. I’m not sure how kids do it now. Making a wish list on the computer isn’t the same.

I can’t complain. Many times, I scour the mall in search of a specific item, only to be disappointed. Then I order it on my phone, just like the housewife of old. I can sing the Amazon Truck rap while I wait.

Nowadays,the wait is much shorter. Guess I don’t mind living in the now, even if I don’t have a paper catalog. I don’t have an outhouse anyway.

Deja Vu In A Foreign Land

As I stood in the Christmas decorating section of Target looking for replacement light bulbs, a sense of deja vu washed over me. But, how? I’ve never been to this Target before. I only recently moved to this city. I searched my brain for the memory that eluded me—like a fuzzy dream that had disappeared in the morning.

Finally, I realized I had been in another Target, in another city a couple of years ago, looking for the same thing. The display hadn’t changed.

Big box stores and chains build cookie cutter stores in every city. When I walk into the Walgreens in rural New Mexico, I might as well be in downtown Washington, D.C. Although the skyline is unfamiliar, I feel at home. The refrigerated section covers one far wall. Make-up and curling irons cover the other. The actual pharmacy is way in the back and closes earlier than the rest of the store. Puzzling.

Marketers study my habits. Milk, bread, and produce hide around the perimeter of any grocery store, ensuring the maximum number of steps on my Fitbit. I need those items. Cookies, chips, and candy fill the center aisles waiting for me to take a short-cut to the checkout stand.

I find it creepy when Facebook recommends products I might want to purchase, but the idea of watching shoppers is nothing new. Marketers have done it for generations. New technology simply allows sellers to fine tune their efforts. I don’t mind seeing ads for cute skirts and coffee mugs that say “Writer at work” in my news feeds. I wish there was a way to tell them I already bought a kitchen faucet. Stop showing them to me.

Good thing I’m not a true crime writer. What would they try to sell me then? It might be fun to type in some key words to see what they offer.

Yes, Big Brother is watching. But his strategies are predictable. I put on sneakers and hike the perimeter of the grocery store. I get some squats in as I grab generic items from the bottom shelf. I use public computers at the library to research true crime.

The proliferation of big box stores creates a common experience. I can meet any woman in my demographic and immediately have a bond.

My new friend from another city says, “I have that same shirt.”

Together we say, “Costco. Fifteen-ninety-nine.”

Then we have a good laugh.

I can travel to a foreign land, like New Mexico or Nebraska and know which way to turn once I get inside. And, more importantly, know where they hide the restrooms.

When my daughter chose to have her wedding in her new husband’s hometown, I volunteered for the Target runs. A little piece of home.

Deja vu in a foreign land.

Lost in the Suburbs

I’m a small-town girl, who recently moved to the suburbs.  I find myself faced with so many new decisions. How do suburb dwellers figure out where to shop?

For example, when I need something for my home, perhaps a dishtowel.  In the small, mountain town where I used to live, I would go to Walmart, buy the towel and be home within a few minutes.

Now I live within ten minutes of three Walmarts. How do I choose? I can go to the one that is near the Kickboxing gym.  Maybe I’ll workout on the way there, but then I’ll be sweaty. Although, people in animal print leggings and bedroom slippers won’t care much about my messy bun and red face.

I can go to the Walmart near Costco.  Wait! Costco is only ten minutes away, too.  The wholesale warehouse sells dishtowels.  Do I need a pack of ten?  I could give them as gifts next Christmas.

Or do I venture north to an entirely new Walmart? With a different floorplan. And different traffic patterns. I could get stuck in a left turn lane and never return.

But, wait, there are three Targets within ten minutes of my house. Target would carry a more upscale selection.   I could go to the Walmart that is nearest a Target for even more choices. Then I could spend an hour exploring the options in both stores before making a selection.

Or, I could go to one of the plethora of craft supply stores to buy a towel that I decorate myself.  Or the mall.  I live near several malls. Or a kitchen specialty store.

More often than not, I discover that all of the stores carry the same two choices. After visiting five stores and the mall, I go home to order a dishtowel online.

How can stores compete in such close proximity?  Home Depot is next to Lowes.  When I need “hardware”, where do I go?  Office Max is across the street from Staples.  PetSmart and Petco. Whole Foods and Sprouts. Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  Makes my head spin.

It took me a while to find a post office. I’m not sure the one I use is even where I would go to pick up a package or put a hold on my mail.  But, why are there so many mailboxes?  Most of them say the same thing.  Which box do I use? Why not just make one big mailbox?

And don’t get me started on restaurants.  I’m surrounded by new fast, casual chain restaurants.  Ooh, the temptation.  Eating out is one of the fastest ways to blow my budget. My husband doesn’t care what he eats and doesn’t understand the temptation.  Sometimes I sneak out to a fun little restaurant for lunch while he’s at work. He doesn’t even realize how much it costs him to live surrounded by yummy restaurants.

After a year, I’m finding my go-to stores so that I can spend less brain power on decision making.  Maybe that’s what native suburbanites do.  Just pick a store and call it good.