Do you remember the thrill of wandering the aisles and displays in department stores? Even if you couldn’t afford it, it was exciting and fun to touch it and dream. One of my most favorite places in the world as a kid was SEARS.
You name it, SEARS had it.
Of course, there was the classic SEARS Christmas Wish Book, which accounted for huge sales numbers come the holidays. We’d explore the Wish Book hot off the press, smell the sweet aroma of fresh ink, then, take our imaginations to SEARS for a closer look at the real thing. What a rush it was to touch something you saw in the catalog on display for the touching.
Sometimes, the real thing was disappointing.
Then, there were always moments when we were distracted by our parents who wanted us to try on shoes. The darned things were always too tight. The same could be said for clothing that was either too loose or too tight followed by, “Awe Honey, you will grow into them…” or “I think you will like this…” when you hated it with a passion. No kid wants to try on clothes.
I believe I was an old soul trapped in a kid’s body. Most kids looked at toys. Me—I was always in the home improvement department looking at plumbing fixtures and kitchen cabinets—dreaming of home ownership as a grown up. I loved anything to do with home improvement. I got high off the smell of fresh cut lumber. I also had a thing for lighting, electrical hardware, and Christmas lights. The colors and types of bulbs were enchanting to me. In those days, there were so many types.
Young people these days want to know how we even survived without video games and electronic media. I’ve carefully explained to my teenage son in those days we had our imaginations. We had no idea what a video game was because they didn’t exist. I did enjoy electric toys. You flipped a switch and they sprung to action with motion and flashing lights. I loved those tin battery-operated airliners with lighted cockpits and navigation lights. There were plastic propellers that whirled around. They roared around the floor, stopped, loaded and unloaded, and went on their way.
If you had a dog, motorized toys drove them crazy.
I’d walk into SEARS and head for the bicycles. I was nine and I wanted one badly. Christmas Morning 1965, there it was in gleaning red and chrome, leaning on a kickstand amid our living room. I couldn’t wait to attach it to my backside for a spin around the block. It had working lights and baskets. I later added a generator lighting set with a headlight and red taillight for battery-free performance.
Online shopping is certainly convenient as witness the success of Amazon and other online retailers. SEARS could have been Amazon given vision and the application of technology. CEO Eddie Lampert didn’t see the point. SEARS is all but dead.
However – the memories are not.
There’s no substitute for the touch and feel experience of brick-and-mortar shopping. How many bad online purchases have you experienced because you couldn’t touch and shake it? The shipping is too expensive to send it back, which leaves you stuck with it. I say let’s get back to brick and mortar shopping when the stores are quiet and you can see and touch what you’re buying.
If you’re retired, avoid the crowds—take a weekday morning and go browse the stores just for the entertainment value and dream factor. Chances are good you will find what you’re looking for and experience the thrill of touch—and spending.