I began this post a few days before the events of January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. when rioters and others broke into the Capitol Building causing great terror. Because of that, I was tempted to change the title of this post for fear it might seem inflammatory. But given the passage of time, I decided that it is the right title and the right idea: Resistance is NOT Futile. My only regret is not providing a Star Trek Borg meme or GIF for you.
Although it has not been my biggest concern in what has been this “Season of COVID-19” the desire to shop safely has expanded a process that was already in full swing with, in my opinion, some disastrous economic results.
As more and more people have switched to shopping online, many of us have mourned at the closing of flag ship stores, and local versions of stores. Thus creating, what to me, is a vicious cycle. Shop online, so the stores close, so you have to shop online.
When people talk about jobs created by the online shopping trend, but don’t talk about the local jobs that are lost, they are leaving out a crucial piece of the puzzle. I was going to say “on-line shopping frenzy,” but see what I did there? I made a more moderate word choice.
I buy books from Amazon, probably way too many, and I want them to do well, but not at the expense of brick and mortar stores.
Several months ago our local Wal-Mart started offering the option of ordering on line and picking up in person and many people I know really celebrated that. This was pre-COVID, but it turned out to be just in the nick of time.
During our state lockdown, our local grocery store began offering call in and pick up options, and maybe order online. I didn’t notice because my preference would still be to go in the store.
Call me reactionary, I have been called worse. But having someone else pick out my food, choosing which cut of meat, what quality of oranges, and do they check the feel of the bread to be sure it is soft and fresh, or just pull it from the shelf and scan it? This does not work for me and even less so for my husband.
Even when it comes to clothes, I have ordered some clothes online and done so recently. But, I prefer to go to the store in person, to see the color and feel the fabric, etc.
Okay, so I am reactionary, picky and stubborn. I am especially resistant, and perhaps a little scared when I hear people make pronouncements like, “This is the way it is going to be.” “We will shop on line, we will not shake hands or hug people.”
When I hear the words “Contact-less” anything, well, I just get sad. No, I do not want COVID or any other awful disease. However, I cannot help but think that historically, including recent history, our culture can be all too quick to jump on the bandwagon, and go along with whatever the latest thing is, without any deep thought or discernment.
We need some of our parents’ and grandparents’ questioning, “If all your friends______________________ (fill in the blank to whatever generationally appropriate option you wish) does that mean that you should too?”
I am going to start this section with an important disclaimer. My blog is not monetized and I am not an affiliate of any of the companies I am going to mention here. But vague is vague, and I don’t know how to explain the situation without naming names or name dropping, all in the name of clear communication.
More than ever we need our local stores. I shamefully admit when I first moved to my “new” hometown I referred to the local grocery store in unflattering terms, because I did not know any better. No local groceries can compete with the box stores, but I have learned, that it can be worth paying a few cents more, even ten or twenty centers more on some items to get personal service. I can get in and out of our local store faster than I can get into Wal-Mart from their parking lot.
I suppose I should add for clarity, and for family and friends who work at Wal Mart, that I do shop there regularly; often enough to have favorite cashiers and managers.
My local grocery store is not going to be putting in self-checkouts, yet they are mindful of every possible precaution, including mask wearing, plexiglass barriers between the cashiers and customers, social distancing and uplifting messages abound.
Also, our local grocery store has a huge community spirit and frequently do whatever they can to support local causes, including donations and discounts.
Our restaurants are essentially “mom and pop” restaurants. Good cooking, great food, no chains. Eleven years ago friends came to town to visit and wanted to take us out to eat. “Where is the closest chain restaurant?” my friend asked. The Perkins had not yet been built in the neighboring town, which had the only fast food restaurants in a fifteen mile radius. Perkins is still the only chain restaurant in a fifteen mile radius, again, except for the fast food restaurants, all of which are eight miles north.
One of the most difficult things in my resolve to shop local, is clothes. There are some things I will buy at Wal-Mart, (casual clothes) but I prefer Macy’s for a relaxed professional look. But Macy’s moved out of the closest two malls (fifty miles in opposite directions) and there is not one within 100 miles, so I shop at Kohls and my new favorite Christopher & Banks. But if they go away, I may have to learn to sew, and knit, because again, I want to see color and feel fabrics and try things on without having to ship them back. Reactionary? Maybe, or just stubborn. I will own it.
This was brought home to me recently when I received a sweater I had ordered online. It is a nice sweater and I wore it to church, but the color was not as bright and the weight of the sweater was thinner than I expected. Attractive for layering, but not one I would choose if I wanted to feel warmer.
My husband and I have always practiced personal boycotts. If, for instance, we find a television commercial for a product annoying or offensive, we simply will not use it. We don’t need to protest with signs or drag our friends into our preferences, but that company does not get our money.
With all of the negativity in the world right now, I worried that this post might be too negative, too grouchy, too 70 year old woman carping. But a few nights ago, I got an email from my new favorite, Christopher & Banks, informing me that they had made a decision to close all of their brick and mortar stores, but will continue their online business.
My thoughts went to the women who work in the store I frequent. I do not know their names, but they have been helpful, and welcoming and at my last two visits we have talked about the value of shopping in person and the concerns that the store might go in a different direction. I am sad for them, as I was for my favorite sales staff at what was the Macy’s that used to be at that mall. Now, soon, there will be another empty store at our rapidly emptying mall, and at all the malls where they were located.
I will add them to my prayers, as they work to run the sales and do the work knowing how limited their time is and not knowing what they will do next. Praying that doors will open to them, and any necessary training or retraining might be available. Heaven knows there are not a lot of similar stores in our area where they could get employed.
I have to decide what I am going to do in response; will I continue to buy their clothes that I like online, or put all my eggs in one basket, Kohls? I might really have to dust off my sewing machine!
My point in all this is, we do not have to go along with the crowd, even if everyone else is giving up on brick and mortar stores, and shopping online, or calling people names, or any other activity that everyone else seems to be doing that is tearing at the fabric of our lives. Change happens but, resistance is not futile. Stand your ground, be true to yourself and listen, listen, listen. And shop local.
Not holding back the tide,
Copyright 2021 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com
Linking with: Natalie the Explorer’s Coffee Share #3 and Denyse Whelan’s #Life This Week