October 26th, 2021


A Good Old-Fashioned Shopping Experience

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Dec. 18, 2015

Many Americans, it seems, have avoided the stores and preferred to shop on line this holiday season. Why? Well, it's just so much easier to GO on line than to WAIT on line in a store. Much of the time it's cheaper and more convenient too. But you might say, what about that good old-fashioned holiday feeling of being out and about, the hustle and bustle and excitement you get when you're a part of the happy holiday throng? You know, like in the song "Silver Bells."

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style,

Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile.

As the shoppers rush home with their treasures." Ha! It may sound warm and fuzzy in a song written 65 years ago, but the sad truth is, that good old-fashioned feeling has left the building. The reality of brick and mortar shopping today is this:

Not enough sales help on the floor even though the crowds are small.

Sales help that are clueless and totally personality-free.

No gift boxes available for the items you purchased.

Sale items that are featured in ads are not available in stores. And even though the crowds are thinner in the stores, there are still no parking spots. Why is that?

And I've saved the best for last and it really is something you've got to be an older shopper to understand and appreciate. It has become increasingly obvious that the young twenty-something clerks (and that's most of the store clerks today) would rather not wait on anyone over the age of 40. I know, I know, they would rather not wait on ANYBODY, but they really, really don't want anything to do with older people.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive in my dotage but I don't think so. I see the store clerks see me as I walk into their department, then subtly turn away pretending to straighten a shelf or check something under the counter. They avoid eye contact if at all possible, and in fact would love to go on a lunch break right about the time I approach them.

You see, I'm old enough to be their father or even their grandfather and waiting on their father or grandfather is the very last thing they'd like to do. If anything, I'm an uncomfortable reminder of their parents. Yuk! I'm guessing that the phrase "May I help you?" doesn't come naturally to them when addressing a person my age. Now, if they could walk up to me and ask for some money or the keys to my car they might find that much easier.

Young people don't interact well with others, no matter who they are. Millennials aren't that big on talking at all, truth be known. Their preferred mode of communication is texting. No doubt I'd get better service in a store if I could text my request to the store clerk and not approach her at all. No, wait. She would look at her phone and see right away that she doesn't know my number and simply decide not to answer. At least I'd be used to that, since the twenty-somethings in our family never return calls either.

Adding it all up, I'm pretty sure next year I will do more of my holiday shopping on the Internet. That way I'll know that I can get gift boxes since many web sites offer them, I know I will find the item I want, and I won't have to worry about parking. And the best part of all, I won't have to scare the poor millennial store clerk away when he sees the old man approaching him.

By the way, even though shopping on the Internet might sound new and revolutionary, it really isn't. It's been going on for a hundred years. It used to be called "mail order shopping." We may be ordering with electronic devices, but we're still getting our stuff through the mail just like people did with their Sears catalogues decades ago.

If you think of it that way, you can still have a good old-fashioned shopping experience!

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's also a Southern California-based freelance writer.