Small business Saturday?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Short of almost a dozen pairs of shoes I have purchased during the pandemic, shhh dont tell the husband, I have mostly stayed away from going shopping. Truth be told “going shopping” usually means meetings my friends at a bar anyway. Don’t judge, you shop your way, I’ll do mine. But now it is Christmas time and I HAVE to do some shopping for presents! BTW I hate xmas… for personal reasons, but I dont bitch because I dont want to ruin other peoples holiday.

I have not been to a mall yet but Amazon, Etsy, and other websites have been my friend, ordering most everything online. My UPS driver and I have developed a deep and meaningful relationship of give and take. He gives and gives and gives and I take and take and take those packages, checking them off my Christmas list as they come in. I’m sure I get more satisfaction than he does, but isn’t that the way it should be? And getting more than one package on the same day?? Well let’s just say I need a cigarette after that, and I dont smoke! 😉 In the end he just leaves, without a word, without snuggling, without that awkward goodbye, and messy clean up! Perfect!

Yesterday, however, I grabbed one of my favorite people in the world and we set off to do some small business Saturday Christmas shopping. In Michigan this time of year you never really know what type of weather is going to happen, but undeterred she wore her Stormy Kromer, I had my many layers on and we set off to spend some money and time together. This was a serious shopping trip and so no alcohol or wine was consumed during the filming of this episode. Clearly this was a one time only event.

We choose to go to an area that I used to frequent when I lived closer to the area, but hadn’t been to for at least 10 years, fuck I’m old. Back in my interior design days we would go store to store to store looking at and touching everything. Royal Oak was a young hip upcoming place full of old buildings filled with antique shops, home décor stores and clothing places full of unique, all be it pricy items, where it was as much about seeing as it was being seen. Young people holding coffee cups talking on the corners, an occasional person playing guitar with the guitar case tipped open for tips and young couples walking their dogs. We parked in the same parking lot that I used to so many years ago. This time we had to pay for parking and had to drop at least $3.00 worth of quarters for seemingly not enough time to get through the whole shopping district. The wind blew hard and cold but it was sunny so we zipped up and started walking.

The first store we entered was a t-shirt shop. It was small and had two rows of maybe 10 different t-shirts on display with cardboard boxes with the tops cut off full of the t-shirts messily piled underneath each design. It also had a slightly bigger box of clearance items that looked like someone had spent time searching feverishly through it but not finding what they were looking for abandoned the box for other things. While we were in the store a group of three people came in. They were all wearing masks, as we were, but sudden the area felt even smaller and my friend and I quickly left without even thinking about what we could buy there. As we walked down the street we saw a line, not very long, but a line none the less of people waiting to get into a store. We got inline, at least masks keep your face warm, and waited for our turn to go in. It didn’t take long and we were in. Part of me wanted to buy something for all the effort we were putting in. Part of me didn’t want to, thinking that I could be home on my sofa with my laptop instead.

In the end we bought a couple small things for presents, but the town had changed drastically. Now there were at a least 5 to 7 ramen noodle places, and even more sushi places. The middle eastern place that I loved so much was now a tattoo shop and my favorite furniture store was now a location where you could rent office space. Beside the fact there were more restaurants than anything there, I noticed other changes as well, Old buildings have been remodeled or replaced all together. Parking was expensive and in a parking garage instead of on the street and for free. The youngsters were gone and replaced with couples dressed way better than I was busily buying a candle or a mug for a gift before they went on to their final destination of, I imagine, a friends house for dinner.

Royal Oak had changed, and not for the better. Gone is the shopping, replaced with bars and restaurants that are trying desperately to be hip and trendy, but instead are overcrowded and expensive. Parking is scarce… and also expensive. What stores that are there are filled with the same “it” products over and over again, candles, mugs, scarfs, more candles. As I said, I bought a couple of things, but overall was disappointed with what the city had to offer. I dont know if it was me longing for the days where we could spend an entire day shopping and never see the same item twice, indulge in a specialty coffee or yummy sandwich and come home at the end of the day exhausted and broke but blissfully content with the new items I had purchased, or that my lack of shopping over the last couple of years, and current pandemic, had changed my once joyful and therapeutic hobby that I loved and treasured so completely into a exhausting and sweaty chore that was now more an inconvenience than anything. I guess it doesn’t matter which. I enjoyed my time seeing my friend, we caught up with what was going on in our lives, and had many, many laughs. Maybe that is what “shopping” is suppose to be now anyway. I cant wait to do it again, see my dear friends, that is. For now I’m going to open my laptop and shop.

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