Lately I have been feeling nostalgic for the golden days of offline shopping. I imagine this is the way Generation X looks back at Studio 54. Gone are the days spent moseying from store to store (for me at least). And rather, most of my purchases are made from behind a screen (so convenient!), in between checking the news and responding to emails. It’s not so much the trying on or purchasing components of shopping that I miss, but the ceremony around them, and the stories and relationships cultivated along the way. So this past weekend, I did just that. We all know the struggle of brick and mortars are real, and while most department stores are still trying to figure out their magical formula, I am seeing Macy’s Backstage pop-up one store at a time throughout the Tri-State area. And rightfully so, Macy’s Backstage the best sale secret that could have potentially gotten lost in the valley of e-commerce culture, but their discount and selections make it a worthy visit.
I remember some of my most fondest memories of shopping took place in dressing rooms: the disappointment I felt when my mom rejected the idea of me wearing a very expensive lingerie-like slip dress as my prom dress; the stomach ache from laughing too hard when my best friend wore a dress one size too small and started sweating profusely to only complicate taking off the garment (damn inner-linings!); trying to convince my dad to pay for distressed denim (which he still does not comprehend to-date! And I don’t think he ever will.) These interactions probably wouldn’t take place in front of a computer screen, so for future generations they may not take place at all, sadly.
I was not raised in a home where consumption was encouraged. For example, on our first father-daughter trip to the shopping mall during high school, I asked him to buy me a sweater of DKNY that was on sale for $74.99 (which was slashed at half from its original price). His initial reaction was “why does a high school student need a sweater that are worth $150??” followed by “you already have sweaters at home.” which was a premeditated statement or his polite way to say no. I tried explaining to him (to no avail) that these were on sale, and thus, different circumstance. I will never forget or stop cherishing that story, but had the sweater landed in my closet without any fuss, they probably would have been tired-out within months.
In hindsight, it wasn’t buying or owning items that mattered; it was all of the stuff that emerged while spotting, trying on, negotiating for, and saying hello or goodbye to those things. Believe it or not, shopping teaches us a lot about life. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is not just a Rolling Stones song when you’re at Ogilvy (Canadian version of Bloomingdales) with a $35 allowance. I can’t remember any of the clothes that were vetoed along the way, but I have many fond memories of the conversations and emotions that surrounded making — or accepting — those choices.
The lessons shopping taught me personally seem less poignant nowadays. Understanding what it means to “love” a dress but not be able to own it isn’t the same when you’re a click away and the fabric isn’t nestled between your fingers. Contemplating “do I need this?” is less fun when you’re opening an ASOS box that just got delivered to your door, as opposed to standing in a cramped dressing room with a best friend convincing yourself that you’ll just ‘lose the weight‘ for the one size too small and last pair on sale amazing leather pants that you will wear all year round and thus become a sensible, justified purchase.
Visiting Macy’s Backstage at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn revitalized the best thrill of shopping – “the hunt.” Finding a deal is a euphoric experience (as I am sure most of you can relate). Finding that perfect pair of jeans at 50% off that fits you like a glove. There is nothing like finding that one item in your size and price range among a sea of clothes, but part of the joy comes from a feeling that fate or luck brought you to that piece: in the entire world of clearance racks, it just so happens to end up at Macy’s Backstage at 11 in the morning on Saturday April 23rd, 2016. That kind of destined fate shit just doesn’t happen online.
If life is like a box of chocolates, then shopping is a roller coaster of emotion, a symphony of affirmations and rejections based on size, price and style. We can all agree that there is no relief quite like trying on something you can’t afford only to find out it doesn’t fit. To remove the social and tactile components of that experience make it no more than a series of acquisitions. And anyone who has ever rolled over laughing or crying in a fitting room knows that’s the most meaningful part of being a consumer — compared to that, ownership is a moot point.
Stay tuned to see what amazing deals I scored at Macy’s Backstage! To be continued…
Thank You to Macy’s Backstage for sponsoring this post.
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