Shop until you drop

By Sabine Ehgoetz

While I stare in disbelief at the credit card statement that arrived in the mail today, it occurs to me that the meaning of the word “mall” must come from the French term malheur (which means accident or misfortune). How on earth did I manage to rack up such a huge amount of debt the last time I briefly hopped over to the shopping centre just to pick up a book that I had ordered from a store there? What happened between the moment when I left my car at the parking lot at Yorkdale Mall and the moment when I returned to it, fully loaded with bags and boxes from all kinds of fancy fashion and cosmetic stores?

Well, I remember that it was a particularly cold and windy day and the thought of going outside again any time soon didn’t seem too inviting once I entered the huge shopping centre and a flush of heat welcomed me right at the door. It also had taken me forever to find a parking spot and it felt like a waste to give it up again so quickly.

I still believe that my budget and I would have stayed out of trouble, if it hadn’t been for those vicious signs posted everywhere, all too obvious to miss. On my short walk from the mall entrance to the book store they basically threw themselves across my path and screamed words like “Sale”, “Blowout” and “up to 70 percent off” at me in red ink. I could have ignored them if they had been in only one shop window, but somehow all the stores had united against me and created this huge magnetic force that left me with no other choice than to be dragged from one temple of consumerism to the next.

Sadly, this was neither my first encounter nor my last defeat by the sweet promises of incredible savings that simply couldn’t be missed. But honestly, what kind of will power would be needed to resist the chance to make a few great bargains, no matter whether you needed any of that stuff or not? No, it definitely wasn’t my fault; the alluring, irresistible nature of the North American mall alone is responsible for the fact that I will have to starve for the next couple of weeks – as the balance on my Visa predicts now. This really isn’t so bad after all, since the designer jeans that I bought that day are actually a little too tight as they weren’t available in my size. By the time I will be able to afford groceries again, they will fit perfectly!

Since I already got a new pair of pants, I also needed new boots to go with them. Luckily, I found a shoe store right beside my favourite little lingerie boutique where I had probably bought the only item that wasn’t on sale but a “new arrival”. Well, a woman with a sense of style can’t ignore preferences and just go for what comes cheap, I usually tell myself under such circumstances. The heels I ended up with weren’t a cheap deal either, yet I had to think ahead: winter was just around the corner, so why would I buy a pair of those bargain sandals if I wouldn’t be able to wear them for the next six months? Next summer they would most likely be out of fashion anyway! It all made perfect sense then and even now my decisions seem rational to me. The moment I left the shoe store, my eyes fell on the glamorous windows of the big department store a few steps away and I remembered that I had run out of some make-up items. As I had just made plans to go out that night to show off my new clothes, I needed to stop there briefly to grab a new bottle of foundation.

Approaching the counter of my favourite cosmetic brand usually means trouble. I truly believe that someone must have conducted a study which proved that high pitched voices are more trustworthy and convincing than normal ones. All female sales clerks of cosmetic companies must have been trained according to this theory, because I fail to resist every single time they inform me, in a soprano voice that Micky Mouse would be jealous of, how this eye shadow set or that lip gloss palette was a limited edition and would probably be sold out by tomorrow and gone FOREVER. What choice would I have apart from making sure that I’d become one of those extremely lucky owners? To miss such an opportunity would be as unforgivable as refusing to accept the lottery jackpot!

Unfortunately, winning the lottery is the only thing that can save me now, I realize while I still blink at the cruel numbers on the bill in front of me, desperately hoping this is just a bad dream and I will wake up any second now. But I can’t deny it – the jeans are still sitting there in my closet until they fit or will be forgotten, and so are the shoes that actually turned out to be quite uncomfortable.

Had shopping only been a little less convenient, had the stores only been a little further away so that my feet would have started to hurt before all my purchases, and had I only not ordered this darn paperback book for twelve bucks fifty in the first place that forced me to go back into this horribly tempting retail paradise and spend hundreds… I’m afraid that crying over spilled milk will be of no use now, since the mall already took full advantage of the power it holds over me…again.

CNM