Readers, when's the last time you shopped in a department store?
For me, it's been more than a decade, though I walked through Macy's Herald Square store with Michael last Sunday just to see the annual flower show. It was not quite as exciting as I'd remembered it, though certainly jam-packed with tourists.
But it isn't only department stores I avoid, it's almost any store other than fabric and notions stores, which I visit often. I like to be able to see (and touch) fabric in person, as colors, textures, and scale-of-design can be hard to communicate accurately over the internet. I'm fortunate to live in a place with a substantial (if shrinking) garment district; most sewers no longer have access to that, I know.
Food, too, I buy in a brick-and-mortar store, though there are certain items, among them toothpaste, protein powder, and coffee beans, that I order online. Often it isn't even that I can't find them locally, but rather than I need one more item in my Amazon shopping cart to qualify for free shipping. (Don't tell me I'm the only one!)
Mostly, though, I find shopping online incredibly convenient -- fun even. I can hunt for exactly what I like and find it in stock. I don't have to leave my house or get on the subway. There's no waiting for a sales person to ring me up. Plus you get a package delivered to your door -- presents!
I used to love shopping in stores, especially growing up. An outing to a big-city department store -- and I'm not talking about luxury stores like Saks Fifth Avenue but middle class stores like Macy's, Gimbels, and Korvettes -- was something special. The selection was vast and the atmosphere was bustling. Maybe it's because I'm older or the stores have less individual personalities (since many are owned by the same corporations), but store shopping holds no interest for me. I'd much rather go to the Salvation Army or my local flea market, where I can be sure to find something truly one-of-a-kind and much cheaper (if not returnable).
The few times I've been clothes shopping in the last decade or so, the merchandise seemed remarkably low quality for the price, and the endless discounts offered (I'm looking at you, GAP), only made it seem cheaper. (If you can't move your inventory for less than 60% off, maybe you need to rethink your strategy.) There's so much sameness and so little energy, unless you're shopping in true luxury stores (and paying for the privilege).
I know there are many reasons to be critical of Amazon, but they do have a pretty seamless system in place from the customer's point of view. And it's great to know that, almost without exception, you can return an item easily if it doesn't fit or meet your expectations, no questions asked.
Then there's eBay, where you can find just about anything, new or second-hand and, if second-hand, usually much, much cheaper than a brick-or-mortar store would sell it for. I've found most of my vintage sewing machines on eBay, not to mention everything from vintage Jockey undershirts to my favorite cologne (Cacharel L'homme).
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!