Why I Stopped Shopping at the Mall

It’s been about six months since I started wearing the skirts everyday. It was done in part so I could connect with my more bohemian self, and also so I could simplify my outfit choices. It worked wonderfully at first. And then, in one misguided trip to Macy’s I got carried away. I bought about $150 worth of clothing, on sale and all that.  I walked away with two giant bags filled with stuff.

Now that I have many more clothes, I find myself at a loss of what to wear most mornings. Without blogging, I find myself falling back into my old habits. It’s time to purge again and get rid of the junk. (And return to writing, too)

Furthermore, I haven’t had most of this stuff more than a couple of months and some of it already looks like crap.  These clothes aren’t meant to be worn frequently.  I feel like I’ve wasted my money. Many times I don’t want to wear what I have simply because it looks shoddy.  How often does that happen to you? I’m tired of it happening to me, so I have officially quit shopping at the mall.

It is  a shame that these large companies don’t take the time to put together quality clothing, but it’s not surprising.  I mean, they are paying scraps to little kids in China to put these scraps of clothes together.  Clearly, they care more about their profits than anything else.  If profits weren’t their main concern, they’d pay their manufacturers better. Why not cut corners on quality, too?

Do you know what “pilling” is?  It usually happens when a fabric has little tiny balls of fabric stuck all over it. So if a canvas tote bag you’re carrying rubs up against a synthetic, polyester t-shirt, you get pilling. Pilling is the bane of my existence.  It makes relatively new clothing look pretty shoddy. I’m starting to think clothes were only meant to be worn once.  I saw an article on Yahoo! over the weekend, “Britney Spears Explains Why She Wears the Same Outfits in Public.” We as a people in this country have serious problems if we have to explain wearing the same clothes over again. I know it doesn’t apply to me, the regular, not-famous human, but the fact that this even made the tabloids, speaks volumes about our society.  And us normal people don’t want to repeat outfits too frequently either. So of course  clothing manufactures can get away with selling this clothing of such poor quality.  Besides, this low-quality crap is the only thing that most of us can afford.

Nonetheless, I know how to pick out high-quality items on sale.  However, the time required to find the style/color/size I want coupled with the availability of superior quality items (and fair price, anyone?) makes it very difficult to find what I’m looking for, especially last minute–and that, of course, is how I do most of my shopping. It takes work. Work that I’m just not interested in doing. Malls really aren’t my favorite place, ya know?

So at one point, I thought, to save money (and time, and stress, and frustration) I should sew my own clothes.  I thought that going old-fashioned was the solution to the crap at the mall. “Old-fashioned” has been my solution to slowing everything down a bit.  It worked very well for improving my diet, but apparently not for my personal style. See, I’ve had the machine for a while now and the only thing I’ve made is a giant pillow-bed for my dog.  I’ve hemmed a couple of things, but I really don’t think I’m going to do much more sewing than that.  Sewing projects really just aren’t for me. I think it is an important skill to have, but I’m going to stick to crocheting hats and scarves for now. So lately I’ve been perusing Etsy for people who hand-sew clothing.  I bought a hand-sewn purse a good while ago (not online) and it is still in wonderful condition.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything of that quality at the mall. I paid $50 for it. A tote of that quality is worth FAR more than $50 dollars retail. 

It is clear that these big companies, really aren’t looking out for the needs of the consumer.  I need durable clothing (purses and shoes) that can stand frequent wear. I think I would save far more money if my clothing didn’t wear out as quickly as it does now. The items I buy would stay nicer, longer. The reality is, I’m just not going to be able to find that at the mall, for the amount of money I’d like to spend.

P.S. I also decided to stop shopping at the mall because I want to support black businesses.  It is very difficult to do that at the mall.  My community is suffering and the least I can do is spend my money where it’s needed. 

“Buy Nothing Until 2013” Challenge

Because I love my readers so much, you all get two posts today.  After perusing my RSS feeds, and catching up on other minimalist blogs, I stumbled upon the “Buy Nothing Until 2013” Challenge by Leo Babauta on his Zen Habits blog, which I love btw.  I wanted to share the link with you because I think I may be participating.


Every year companies start urging shoppers to spend all their money earlier and earlier. This year I saw Christmas decorations up in stores before Halloween and many stores started Black Friday on Thursday. They gave you ample opportunity to “buy, buy, buy,” “spend, spend, spend,” and go “broke, broke broke.” The whole overconsumption, commercialism, consumerism and generally irresponsible spending around the holidays, has gone way too far. I have refused to participate. I did stay home on Thursday and Friday, but I must admit, ordered a couple of things online (that I was planning to get anyway) on Cyber Monday.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, I’m sure many of you are fraught with guilt from spending way too much, on too many once in a lifetime, AMAAAAAZING deals. I thought I’d give you some hope to get back in the black.

Whatever you’ve done over the past 5 days can most likely be reversed. You can take it all back. It’s not too late. You can still get money back to pay rent in 4 days. You can join me on the “Buy Nothing” challenge, starting retroactively from “Black Thursday.”

What do you think? Who’s in?


Mastering the Art of Slow: The Grocery Store

A cute little story about patience in the grocery store:

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the child asked for cookies and her mother told her “no.” The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Ellen, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset. It won’t be long.”

He passed the mother again in the candy aisle. Of course, the little girl began to shout for candy. When she was told she couldn’t have any, she began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Ellen, don’t cry. Only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.”

The man again happened to be behind the pair at the check-out, where the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there would be no gum purchased today. The mother patiently said, “Ellen, we’ll be through this check out stand in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap.” The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Ellen…” The mother broke in, “My little girl’s name is Tammy… I’m Ellen.”

Thank goodness I don’t have any children I have to bring shopping with me.  But I do have to flex my patience muscles when dealing with the other people I encounter. Patience is easier to come by when you are mastering the art of slow.  I was at the drugstore the other day and an elderly employee at the checkout register was having some difficulty with the checkout machine. I was trying to be patient and understanding, but the rest of the line was freaking out. It’s hard to move at a slower pace while I’m out shopping when everyone else is on speed.  Ever since I’ve decided to slow down, I’ve noticed that the world is whirling by me, and conspiring against my lifestyle change. Here 5 ways to avoid letting impatience get the best of you:

Get it out of your head that you are making just a “quick trip.”  Nothing about grocery shopping is quick, really.  If you stop trying to squeeze in the grocery store before work, during your lunch,  while you are starving, or have to pee, you won’t be in such a rush.  There will always be long lines, cashiers who don’t know what they are doing, and malfunctioning cash registers. Go to the store when you have plenty of time. Otherwise, get used to it and go with the flow.

Go shopping during non-peak times.  I prefer to go shopping when there are less people out and about. I can take my time comparing items without people hurrying by or rushing me along. The employees of the store seem to be more at ease when the store is slower.  They can take time to help me when there aren’t 50 other people vying for their attention at the same time.  Not to mention, I can always find a pretty good parking space if I’m shopping at an off time.

Use a hand basket, not a cart. Not only will you be limited to buying what you actually need, you will be able to limit your spending.  Furthermore, you will find that you have a much easier time navigating the aisles if the store is busy.

Let impatient people go ahead of you in line. It’s hard to be move more slowly and be patient when the person behind you is tapping their foot, looking at their watch and making loud, obnoxious sighs.  They may not even be that obvious about their unwillingness to wait.  Sometimes their strained face and tense body posture will give them away.  Let them skip you in line.  Even if they decline, and you insist, they will be extremely glad to go. They maybe be embarrassed by their impatience, but that isn’t your problem.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. If you need a second to put you change away, tell the cashier. If you want your receipt first, tell them.  Just be nice about it. I like to separate my receipt from my dollar bills, and my dollar bills from my coins.  It’s kind of hard to do when they hand it to me in one big pile. And then the bag boys are usually trying to hand me my bags before I’ve even got the chance to put my change and receipt in my wallet. If you tell them hang on a second, the cashier and bag boys have no choice but to wait.  Remember, you, the customer, are always right. 🙂

Ignore people who are rushing you along. I’m a slow payer at the checkout. Usually, I’m still putting my change in my wallet when they start with the next customer. It’s even worse with the next person’s groceries are intermingling mine  and the plastic bags become indistinguishable. That person is usually staring at me like, “why is this girl so slow? she’s young and healthy.” The best thing you can do is ignore them.  You are leaving momentarily; they can wait.