How I survive December without entering a mall, or The beauty of small shops

December 13, 2010

I hate malls. I’ve always hated malls. Even when I was a teenager and worked in a mall for three years, I wan’t big on malls. I don’t like the crowds, I don’t like the cooped-up indoors feel of them. These days, I most hate the same-ness of the stores and the throngs of crowds. In fact, in our first months together, one of the first times my now-husband told me he loved me was when I told him I hated malls.

So you can imagine just how very much I hate malls around Christmas. I make an annual vow not to darken the door of a mall all of December (yet even I make an exception on Boxing Day to brave the crowds for sales, although I never queue up to enter any store).

While it’s easy enough to get my holiday shopping done before the deadline, especially this year with Hanukah starting December 1, that doesn’t mean I have no shopping to do all month. Sometime you just have to get something that you can only buy at the mall store.

On the weekend, I really needed to buy a certain-sized curtain rod. I tried driving across town to a fabric store, but they didn’t have the one I needed, which really just left me the department store at the local mall. I had to go the mall. But I tried to outsmart the mall. I went to the upper parking lot no one ever uses, came into the department store only, found my curtain rod and headed straight to cash. Five minutes–I could have held my breath — except for the ridiculously long waits at the checkout.

I thought I would collapse from anti-mall-itis, but someone with a huge basket of stuff let me cut ahead for my quick purchase and I escaped mostly unscathed.

The funny thing is the next day, still the weekend, I was walking along the street of my local shopping block, which features some of the same stores as the mall but also many smaller boutiques and coffee shops. And those stores were busy but not crushing. I could go in without hyperventilating, and I could get served and buy what I needed without huge waits or loads of frustration.

This has really renewed my faith in local shopping areas, in small shops and customer service, and has also renewed my vow to stay the heck out of a mall after December 1 every other year. I vow, never to return. At least, not until Boxing Day.


Over packaging and the waste of cardboard

December 18, 2009

I bought my husband a new camera for Chanukah. Well, to be truthful, I bought it for the family and just gave it to him. But then, he bought a GPS and gave it to me, knowing full well he’d use it loads more than me. Welcome to gift giving in the married years.

Anyhow, this camera is small. The last camera we bought was about five years ago, and I thought it was small then. But this new thing is barely bigger than my cell phone. Do you know that just about every point-and-click camera these days is sold without a view finder? If you want to take a photo, you have to hold it away from yourself and look at the LED. What if your hand shakes? I like looking through the hole while my hands firmly grasp the camera. Plus, in bright sunshine (we do get some of that sometimes!), it’s impossible to see the screen.

Anyhow, this teeny weeny camera was well priced and was one of only two at the store that still had a viewfinder, so I chose it from the display. Then the clerk goes into the back to get me one, and comes out with a box larger than my printer!┬áInside this box is a smaller box, and inside this box is my camera. There is nothing else inside the big box except the small box. Why on earth did Canon need to put the small box inside the big box? Why need a big box at all? What a collosal waste of cardboard. No wonder we’re facing global warming.

Happy Chanukah!


Amazing customer service from Foxy Jewelry

November 10, 2009

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid to say this, and I wasn’t offered any samples if I blogged this.

I went to a big craft show last month with a friend on a Friday evening. It was so lovely for us to get away from husbands and kids and just have a grown-up night out. I don’t do enough of that.

The show had lots of homemade/artisan food, clothes, and especially jewelry. I don’t normally enjoy a lot of shopping (my personal mall tolerance is only 30 minutes before I go buggy!), so usually shop rather purposefully. But this show was all about strolling around and having fun looking and trying, and my friend was all about the jewelery. She wanted to try on every necklace and ring there!

Well, her jewelry enthusiasm rubbed off, and I got into the spirit and chose a couple baubles for myself. We both picked necklaces from one busy counter, Foxy Originals Jewelry. Apparantly they’re all the rage among the younger set, but to me they just had nice pieces at reasonable prices. So I bought a necklace, as did my friend. They packed it up in a pretty pink bag and I stuck it in my purse.

A few days later I was wearing the right colour for my new necklace to match, so I pulled it out of the pretty pink bag. But there was something wrong with the chain’s clasp. It wasn’t attached to the chain. I could still wear it, but the clasp could fall off and be lost very easily.

So I found Foxy’s website, and emailed them a photo of my chain, asking if there was something they could do. And here’s where the amazing customer service came in. I got an email back within a couple hours. They apologized, asked for my address so they could send me out a new chain. And to make it up to me, I should also chose anything else from their collection for them to send me as a free “I’m sorry” gift. Wow! So I did, and within a few days I was mailed a new chain and another necklace. No charge, no fuss, no complaining.

I was so impressed I wrote this post.