Comfort buying

Mar 24, 2022

“Knock, Knock!” I hear, I opened my door and see a bemused carrier standing on the other side. “Are you okay? You did not order any online shopping today!” he asked, Yikes! Mumbling, I hastily closed my front door to comfort buying, at least until next time, next purchase.

Online shopping is now very popular. Courier vans from Australia Post and assorted transit companies trundle our suburban streets. For some reason, here in the suburb where I live, the local shopping centres are not doing so well. 

This little corner of the world was once a central hub of op shopping. Glad girls of any age would arrange a day of retail therapy, meeting for a coffee and muffins. Then these chicks, usually Boomer babes, would strategically search each op shop for their comfort buying of treasures. Gone now are the days of old books, pre-loved jewellery, antique knick-knacks, or beautiful old crockery. 

Then, girls our age could buy a range of clothes, like a nice black cardigan, to drape over a fat-bottomed physique. After another coffee, or pot of tea and scones with jam and cream, the comfort buyers would head off home, sated by their inexpensive bargains. Op shopping was their retail therapy.

As I said, these op shops are now no more, empty, shuttered and bare. I reside not far from a large Westfield shopping mall. Here, a large emporium has been demolished, along with a row of once swanky stores. The past lockdown years have changed much of our shopping expectations.

Shops and food courts are being refitted. The past traders could no longer afford their leases. The landlords found that such storekeepers could not make a living weekly or monthly salary, let alone hire some staff. I do wonder what this is doing to employment in the retail sector. 

So, what is next? Yesterday, a supportive friend and I met in a café for coffee and cake, our norm. She described a new shopping experience. One day, walking past recently closed stores in her neighbourhood, she noted a new venture in what had been a vacant, boarded-up shop. 

A surprise! A “pop-up” store had opened. This shop only had a one or two-month lease. The curious shoppers, walking nearby, ventured in to check the new shop. This “pop-up” store sold brand name dresses while promoting their website and online retail store for a range of couture. 

My friend went home, intrigued, to purchase her new dress online. Nice, very impressive. A “pop-up” store is the modern response to our former world of open-air markets. These were usually held on the weekends, had lower rentals, and sold different ranges of products to attract foot traffic, customers who went there to wander.

Open-air marketplaces are returning, some not far from here. That is one of my happy, treasured memories. We used to spend Saturday or Sunday mornings at open-air markets, inhaling fresh air in the sunshine. We could enjoy good company, good coffee, good tucker. We could buy pot plants, scented candles, old books or music, hand-made jewellery, or novelty seasonal gifts.

 Yes, I hope these markets all return. One of my friends would cart home half a case of tomatoes, ripe or green, or quinces. She would cook up tomato sauce, or green tomato pickle, or quince jelly, just like our grandma made. Home-made preserves were very popular, like delicious old-fashioned marmalades.

Yikes! Another courier roared past, heading down the driveway. Our comfort buying has changed, some things have altered during this pandemic. Some health restrictions have altered even cakes as comfort buying when once there were fund-raising stalls. 

Some items just no longer appear, like the comfy, black cardigans. So practical senior gals look for a wool shop, online or not. We take up our knitting needles, seeking an old pattern. Do I need any more fabric or wool? Comfort buying, here we all are! 

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