Monday, November 28, 2011
The Big Box Blues
We decided to concentrate on our little boys for this trip which of course required forays into the big box stores I loathe more with every passing year. But how else does granny buy Lego creatures with a strange name I can’t remember, electronic Scrabble cubes, and other such wizardry? When it comes to the most desired toys the big guys pretty much have you by the wallet. Since Borders closed this year we had to go to Barnes & Noble for books which, thankfully, appeared on the list for both kids. But I so dislike that cold, slick, escalatored emporium that I try to run in and out at supersonic speed. I did get a couple books for Dylan, but Tyler wanted the first two Ridley Pearson novels for kids in The Kingdom Keepers series (which somehow has something to do with Disney), but they had neither one in hard cover. The saleswoman gave me the hard sell, first trying to convince me to buy the paper edition, then wanting to order the hard cover online for me. I told her I could do it myself at home, but she insisted it would be better if she locked it in for me. Guess how much I loved THAT?
Not only did the strong-arm tactic fail, but a small bookstore in Ohio emerged victorious because of it. I got home and thought to myself what if I were to buy them on the secondary market and get one of them signed by Ridley Pearson. Two second after I thought it that’s exactly what I did. I bought via Advanced Book Exchange a fine/fine signed copy from an Ohio dealer, Books of Aurora. Did I pay more? Yes, I did. Do I care? No, I definitely don’t begrudge the extra three dollars. I would rather buy less stuff and support small, independent businesses any day. So actually the whole debacle ended up well if I may say so myself. As for the big box stores, they’ve seen the last of me this Christmas. I bought from Target, Barnes and Noble, and Marshalls, but that’s it. Not another dime goes to any of them even though I’ve barely scratched the surface of my shopping list.
I was thinking about all this this morning when I glanced down at the newspaper and saw a headline which read “Black Friday’s Black Eye.” According to the story, the devious head games the mega-merchants play with their hype, loss leaders, and ever increasing sale hours resulted in escalated violence at stores across the nation. Immediately an image I saw online Saturday popped into my head. Someone had snapped a photo in a checkout line of a shopping cart piled, heaped, and mounded with cheap imported junk and a small baby asleep in the midst of it, off to one side as though she were taking up precious space. I really hate when I rant and I guess this qualifies as a rant, but I truly do think there’s a better, saner way to buy Christmas presents.
Speaking of presents, the antiques mall did very well on Saturday – better even than last year -- so I am very grateful to those who supported us. Sunday returned to a normal Sunday pattern, but I knew it would because we went by twice on our way in and out of Montrose and the number of cars in the parking lot didn’t dazzle me either time. I just hope that once we get over Black Friday and Cyber Monday we can collectively reacquaint ourselves with antiques shops, old-fashioned hardware stores, galleries (museum galleries have great gifts), toy shops, specialty stores and of course – new, used, and antiquarian bookstores.
I think if we slow down, enjoy the experience of browsing in peace, and put more thought into what we give we just might have a happier -- and more human -- holiday.