Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We had a busy day yesterday. Took the car in for its oil change and check up, and then did a bit of shopping. By then the heat was building so I didn't do more than water the gardens. I don't know what I will get done today.

I found this because Mom read a headline about the death of one-stop shopping. The article focuses on Target with a couple of comments on Wal-mart and other chains. The article itself was published in 2014 so something has been going on for a while now--how long I am not sure. But it got me to thinking about my life pattern--especially over the last decade and a half. I remember when the giant shopping malls took off and when Wal-mart and Target expanded to gargantuan proportions. We had a huge mall with all of the major anchor stores (Sears, JC Penney, Wards) and a lot of small stores lining the corridors between. We went to that mall for two major shopping trips and several minor ones each year as well as amusing ourselves on a Saturday when we had nothing else to do. I haven't gone to that mall, or any of the others around here, for years. Shopping there was no longer worth the time, the goods were over priced for the quality, and the crowds annoyed me. When I was a child we couldn't go into one of the anchor stores without coming out with something or leave without buying from at least two or three of the small stores on the way. The last time we went into a mall we came away with nothing. When the Wal-mart in our town became a "super-center" we were delighted because everything we needed would be at one single destination. We quickly became disillusioned with the quality of the foods in the grocery and when the price of gasoline went up we decided to mitigate the pain at the pump by shopping closer to home. Besides the prices weren't low enough to make up for the increased cost of gas. We didn't shift our buying to Amazon. Instead we spread it around to a number of small shops: the local meat market, the farm market in season, the small hardware store, a couple of the dollar stores, a small tea/spice shop. Also we more carefully defined what we needed and have pruned our wants severely. The end result is we don't buy as much. We haven't eliminated impulse buying entirely but we don't indulge very often. We no longer go looking for ten items and come away with twenty-five. Our shopping habits are more complicated now and the old one-stop store doesn't really meet our needs. If there are more consumers like us, it is little wonder the big box, one-stop destination stores are in trouble.

I never worked as a librarian or library assistant but I have felt a nostalgia for the card catalogs. I attended two universities during times when they were phasing our their catalogs and felt a bit of sadness as they disappeared. I spent hours looking up specific books and then following the threads of adjacent volumes (by author or by subject) to other threads connecting other books. I felt a tactile pleasure as my fingers flitted through the cards. I have used the computer catalogs in those university libraries and in local libraries that have gone to computer catalogs but the "feel" simply isn't there nor the joy of following the path from one literary island to another and discovering another just beyond it.

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