Shopping: Not the Same Anymore


One of my favorite pastimes is shopping. At least it used to be. I don’t always buy because I don’t always find what I want and I don’t always need what I find. Not needing something but buying it anyway hasn’t really been a problem for me. When I do find and buy something, need it or not, it’s like getting a shot of adrenaline. Somehow, something new in my closet that fits can uplift me for days. I even buy things that are out of season trusting to luck that it will fit two or three months hence. That’s when I begin thinking of dieting, a state of mind that doesn’t last very long.

My experiences lately have been unsettling. When I decided to buy new undergarments, I found myself hunting for the proper size and style all by myself. There wasn’t a sales clerk in sight, and even if there had been, I’m sure she wasn’t what used to be known as a “professional fitter.” The only store employees now visible stand near exit doors waiting to ring up purchases that you’ve had to locate yourself. For me, the most frustrating part is trying to get down an item that hangs well above my reach. Out of necessity, I’ve learned to take an empty hangar and push on the one hanging until it falls down, usually on my head.

I’m sad that those days we once enjoyed are gone. The days when my friends and I went shopping downtown dressed in hats, white gloves and high heeled shoes. We shopped at Rike’s and Elder Johnson Department stores and wonderful specialty shops including Donenfelds and Thals. Sometimes I went specifically because my favorite saleslady had called to tell me that the “perfect dress” for me had just come in and she would hold it until I could come in to try it on. She knew my taste, shape and size better than anyone else. In the dressing room, she helped with the back zipper, looked at me from all angles and gave an opinion as to whether or not I should buy it. She was always honest with those opinions. “Nope. Not for you,” she might comment. “I have some others that might work though.” Then, while I waited, she’d scurry off to find a half dozen other pieces that she believed would look good on me.

After shopping, my friends and I usually went to lunch. This was always after our shopping spree, never before, so that the clothes we tried on wouldn’t be quite as tight. We lunched at Rike’s Tea Room which sometimes had models parading around tables demonstrating the newest look of the day, available for purchase in their high fashion Moraine salon. Or we lunched at the Van Cleve Hotel in elegant surroundings which included cloth table linens. And then, having had a delightful day, we’d hop on a trolley to go home.

I know I can do very well without those elegant lunches. I can definitely do without the white gloves, hat and high heels. But I sure do miss those wonderful accommodating salesladies who made me feel very special.

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