I suppose I am fairly typical as a woman in that I like to shop (but I actually have at least one friend who doesn’t shop). Sometimes it’s to fill a need (but inevitably I’ll have a look around at one or two “wants);” sometimes it’s out of boredom; other times it may just be a reward. On those few rare occasions that I either find something truly spectacular, or the planets are all properly aligned, I can get a real buzz from shopping.
One of my happiest memories is an afternoon shopping excursion on the day before Good Friday in 1999. I was living in Gloucester, UK and only had to do a half a day of work before I was allowed to have the afternoon off. This was one of those days where it was sunny and unseasonably warm for April; one of those days where you’re happy to be alive. Since my husband probably wouldn’t get the afternoon off, I thought I’d spend the afternoon doing a bit of “spring shopping.”
I don’t remember all the places I visited, though I’m sure I hit a bookstore or two, and probably a few shops that sold kitschy things. However, I do remember spending the bulk of my time in my favorite department store, Debenham’s. It was probably the most upmarket store in Gloucester, and was several stories tall. It was much like my favorite stores back home, the main difference being that the prices were listed in pounds instead of dollars.
Among other things, I remember picking out a new purse – a little tan nylon backpack that could be used on daytime excursions (but not big enough for all my everyday needs). I also chose a cream colored vest with lots of pockets that reminded me of something a professional photographer might wear. I also bought a white v-neck pullover sweatshirt that had “Sport” embroidered in white thread on the front of it. I don’t remember what else I bought, but I’m sure I probably picked out at least one pair of trousers. Out of all those items, I think the only thing I still have is that photographer’s vest. If nothing else, I am keeping it because of all the happy memories attached to it from that day.
I was definitely in a mood to splurge and rarely spent that much money at one time there. The receipt must have come to somewhere between £50 - £100. That was my last stop of the day since it was getting late and my bags were getting a bit cumbersome.
Another shopping “buzz” I remember is the time I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I had been suffering from gastroenteritis for a week or so (which means you’re on a pretty limited diet until your digestive system can process food properly). It was lunchtime and I was wandering around town (in Bath) as I did most lunch hours. I was in my favorite store, Bloomsbury (known for all its interesting and cool items) and I saw the tiniest little camera. I had seen small cameras before, but those were antiques and in museums. This was an early digital camera (probably only about 1.3 megapixels if that) and I HAD to have it. I think it cost about £40, but I decided to put it on my credit card and hope my husband wouldn’t be too angry afterwards (he wasn’t).
That toy camera provided me with hours of fun and entertainment as I could discreetly slip it out, take a picture, and put it away undetected. I even bought a chain for it and sometimes wore it around my neck. The pictures are only thumbnail size at best, but fun to take, and I still have the camera (they cost about $10 or less today).
Sometimes you can get a buzz while shopping with other people, but never your husband unless he's in the mood to spend too, which is pretty rare! My mom took me shopping on Black Friday last year (the day after Thanksgiving), like she sometimes did when I was still living at home. She thought I could use some new work clothes. I spent best part of a couple hours picking out armfuls of shirts and blouses and styling them for my mom. It was nice to have some one on one time alone with my mom, which is pretty rare these days since I'm married now.