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Paulette Delcourt: Shopping Local vs. Shopping the Mall

Shopping local is easier, and the tax dollars stay in your community—my experiences this year have taught me as much!

Last week I realized I had about 90 minutes to shop for 24 people, including travel time. 

On the way to the Oak Brook mall, I stopped in a local shop, , to make some pre-selected purchases. It's one of those stores where you can buy the stocking, and the stuffers in the same place.

The owner knows me by name, as do all of the women who work there. Even though my dog has never  spent a red cent in the store, he is always
welcome to browse as long as he promises not to chew the merchandise. For his self-control he is awarded an organic dog biscuit. As I lack his self-control I usually walk out biscuit-less and with a small haul of unique merchandise.  

I have some fun memories of the day I met Matt Damon at that store (although curiously Matt doesn’t remember me at all). I documented his every movement from inside their mullioned windows . Law enforcement may call that stalking, but my clever, Clever Girls encouraged my “photojournalism” and didn’t mind it when I knocked over a carefully bejeweled mannequin to get a crummy shot of a barely-visible movie star in a speeding vehicle.

In a few minutes, I was able to select the five purse-perfect light-up lip glosses that I knew would be a hit. The staff didn’t even get their feelings hurt when I told them I was in a hurry and declined the complimentary gift wrap. 

The mall experience was a bit different. At Forever XXI an old woman in a fancy fur coat cut in front of me to purchase some gift cards. She stole the place I earned as I trekked through a store that requires a Garmin to find leggings. 

At Macy’s, I had to set a snare in house wares to catch someone who could a) find me a champagne stopper, and b) offer to ring it up. In the clothing departments, cash wraps were heaped so high with clothing, the woman who collected them needed oxygen and a Sherpa to reach the top of the piles. 

Nordstrom tried to fill the service void that Macy’s left; next year I vow not to run out of moisturizer in December. 

Three women played good cop, bad cop, and neutral cop as they covered my hands, neck and jaw line with creams that alternately turned my skin red and silky soft. The trio only backed off when I advised them that ADD is covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and by opening more than one jar at a time they were violating my rights. 

When I blissfully found a fragrance I liked without hassle, another saleswoman told me my hands were dry (despite the fact they were covered in $300 creams) and gave me a “free” moisturizing hand treatment. The hand massage removed any trace of the fragrance I intended to test that day.

When I went to pay for the hand cream, the woman ringing the sales re-sold every item to the purchaser in front of me just in case the first salesperson forgot to fully extol the benefits of botanicals on crepe-y eye bags.

Next year will be hassle-free. I'm going local all the way: each member of my family will get a hand-selected light-up lip gloss. Is “pink sparkle” too over-the-top for a poodle?  Maybe “rawhide glitter” will make the palette next year.

Paulette Delcourt December 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM
I just got an email about this--it's true our local shopping is quite limited. I remember when we had a pharmacy, shoe store, kids' clothing, card store, and craft shop in town! And who could forget our "walk to" grocery store. One problem I consistently hear is that our rents are too high here to support independent stores and small businesses.
Wendy Crawford December 22, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Shopping local keeps the business viable and brings in more options for the consumers. It is way nicer to travel 5 minutes to shop than drive 30 minutes, fight for a parking spot just to spend your hard earned money.
Jack December 23, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Here's betting that the "hand-selected light-up lip gloss" purchased locally was imported from China just like the stuff at the mall...
Paulette Delcourt December 23, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Possibly, but the tax revenue comes back to the town. So really the choice is between buying imports here, or at the mall. I was a jewelry manufacturer--forced out of business by imports. Chinese trade reps walk the trade show floors and steal/copy people's handmade work. The problem comes down to policy.
Paulette Delcourt December 23, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Here is company information. The woman is an American entrepreneur who created the product as part of a larger line. https://thelanocompany.com/cart.php?m=content&page=4 We can all help of course, by purchasing wisely too.

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