64.4 F
Wednesday, July 17, 2024

EDITORIAL: Who Remembers When Shopping Was an Experience, Not a Chore?


I recall ⁣a time​ not ⁤so long ago – ⁤it must have been sometime in the ‍late 70s –⁤ when buying a loaf of bread or getting a new pair of slacks was an ⁤experience to cherish. Before ⁢the era of faceless online​ marketplaces and soulless big-box retailers. It ⁢was a time when shopping was more than just a transaction, ⁤it was⁢ a cherished pastime.

I still remember my⁣ grandmother, a petite ‍and ⁣lively woman who would screw her face and squint her eyes every time she chatted over her chicken soup. Shopping, she would say, was the best part of her week. It was an activity ingrained in her routine, not for the sheer necessity of it, but for the‌ relationships she formed, the chatter she exchanged, and the ‌memories ⁣she ⁣made ⁣during those Saturday sojourns to Broadway’s buzzing‍ boutiques.⁤

I’m fifty ‌now, a proud lifelong resident‍ of Schenectady. There was no such thing as ‘quick’ ‍shopping back in​ the day. ‌The concept of rushing into a store, quickly picking up your item, paying at the automated checkout, and rushing out – it’s alien to⁣ me. Much of my upbringing was spent admiring the ​unique charm ‌of our city’s old-established shops, like the​ renowned ‘Deskew’s Department Store’, a personal favorite.

Going shopping was like attending⁤ a​ fancy ball. Ladies dressing ⁤up in⁤ their Sunday best, using their most elegant purses stocked with neatly folded dollar notes and shiny copper coins.‍ I remember my‍ mother, a woman of taste, stepping⁣ out in her best dresses, her ​auburn curls bouncing and gleaming under‌ the Schenectady ‍sun.

These excursions comprised not just the purchase of items on ​a list, but the wholehearted participation in a community event. We knew the butchers, dressmakers, and grocers by name. We knew about their children, what⁤ schools they attended, and what colleges they ⁢hoped⁤ to get into. This mutual⁢ exchange of personal stories ⁢created a lived and loved community that⁤ today finds no place in our busy schedules.

Fast-forward to ​today, and we ⁤have a different narrative⁢ altogether. The face of shopping is impersonal, detached, and lacks that irreplaceable human touch. We’ve become so reliant on two-day shipping and contactless deliveries, it’s gotten to the point where we can⁣ comfortably go ‍months without setting ‍foot in a retail store, or engaging in the ‌innocent, friendly‍ banter we once did.

I don’t dislike it, of course. The practical side of me respects the convenience technology offers – the time it saves, the effort it ⁢reduces. But the nostalgic side, the side that misses⁣ flipping through vinyl at ‌Warner’s ​Record Store,‌ or ‌exchanging⁤ pleasantries with Mr. Murphy at Murphy’s Deli, ⁤craves a bit of the old world.

I recall one December, back when I⁤ was‍ around fifteen or maybe sixteen. The festive season was upon ⁤us, and‌ the stores and boulevards of Schenectady were⁢ draped ‌with ornaments and sparking Christmas lights. I had saved $5.24⁣ from ​my allowance for a Christmas gift ⁣for my mother, a pair of grapefruit-scented candles from ⁢Olive’s General Store. She⁢ loved that scent; it reminded her of her‍ grandmother’s ‌Florida vacation house that they visited each summer.

Olive, the store owner, on seeing me, offered a kind smile. She ⁣had seen me in the past accompanying my mother. We chuckled over⁣ silly jokes, exchanged Christmas greetings, and I felt a warm and welcoming​ part of the little Schenectady community, even as a young ⁢lad. I ‍remember rushing home after that, eager to wrap my gift, filled with a sense of accomplishment that only a successful ⁤shopping expedition could ⁣bring.

I ache for these experiences ⁤to return – to feel the pages of ‌a book at a bookstore, try​ on a plethora of ill-fitting sweaters‍ before‍ you find ‘the one,’ or sample Tillie’s famous cherry ​pie before purchasing a⁢ whole one – bring back the humanity in consumerism! So, let’s remember these ‍precious moments and how they brought people together,⁣ let’s remember to relish the experiences as much as the products they offer, and let’s remember to keep shopping more than‌ a mere⁣ chore. As for⁣ me, I’ll keep missing the heydays of shopping in‍ our charming little ​Schenectady.

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
Latest news
Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here