by: Joelle Charbonneau
I am not a big "shopper". Going to the mall has never rung my bell. Not now. Not when I was a teen. Nope. Not me. All my clothes basically come from one store because I know what sizes fit. That means I can run in, try stuff on and leave with what I need all in under forty-five minutes. Huzzah!
But while I don't love going out to shop, I like online shopping even less. Oh - I get the convenience of it. There is something wonderful about pushing a button and having something arrive at the door without the need to fight crowds or stand in lines. But there is something about shopping online that feels limiting to me.
How can that be, you ask? After all, the inventory of the entire retail universe is sprawled across the internet. It's not like there aren't options to be had.
Yes, that's true. There are options. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. But browsing online isn't much fun for me. And this weekend, I remembered why.
Yesterday was small business Saturday. In the book world, elves in the guise of authors went to local bookstores and helped hand sell books to patrons. I dropped in on Anderson's Bookshop as a surprise elf and spent several hours putting some of my favorite books in the hands of holiday shoppers. In the process, I managed to accumulate a huge pile of Christmas gifts that I can't wait to give to the readers in my life.
I didn't intend on buying anything today. And I certainly didn't know before hand that I wanted those items as gifts. While browsing the shelves, I was struck by how much "X" would like this book or how "Y" would enjoy a specific present. I read back jacket copy, admired beautifully illustrated pages and got excited about knowing I had found the perfect gift for someone I care about.
It's that experience--flipping through pages, browsing through racks of clothes or nicknacks or whatever--that is missing from the internet shopping experience for me. I like being able to walk into a store with the people I love firmly in my mind and seeing things I never knew existed but I feel are the perfect fit for them. There is something that feels more personal about the whole gift giving experience when I buy the gifts in person. Maybe I'm strange in this, but it doesn't make it any less true. And as an added bonus, I get to know that the money I'm spending is flowing into my community. Which makes me happy, too.
Does that mean I'm anti-internet shopping? Nope. I get why it's popular and why people love doing it. But this weekend, I not only got to find some perfect gifts for those on my holiday list, I was able to be a part of helping others find gifts for those they love. How cool is that?
So, this all makes me wonder...are you the type that likes to shop on line or are there other crazy people like me who need to see things in person in order to know if they are the perfect gift? Internet or in store shopping? I have to know!