Shopping the Blues away

“No,” she said, “you can’t have that!” As children, we heard this repeated again and again. Mom worked no less than 12 hours a day. With limiting time constraints, Mom was a shopping wiz. She was always on a tight budget. With no sitter, she often took us along to the supermarket with her. We cried and cried, sometimes unruly! “Can’t we just have ” The answer was always, “NO!”

In most stores, I felt restless and bored. But, not at the supermarket! I followed mom around closely while looking up and down at the heavily stocked shelves. It wasn’t just a candy store, it was an everything you could want to eat and drink store. For me, every trip was like a trip to fantasy land. It was almost as good as our yearly trips to Disneyland. At least here, the lines weren’t as long. And, if mom felt good that day, I could “drive” the shopping cart. My sisters would divert mom’s attention. Oops, and “somehow” things “accidentally” made it into the cart, past the checker, past mom, home. Even though mom hurried us around in tow, supermarket visit were so much more fun than the other stores. They were like wonderlands to a hungry little boy like me. There was every treat, eat and food you could imagine. I fondly recall all those supermarket visits.

As a kid, I used to dream of owning my own market. Playing “store,” my sister and I would take empty packages, cans, and bottles and neatly place them on top of various sized, empty boxes, simulating supermarket shelves. It was so much fun; mom screamed at us for not throwing out the trash. Quite the dreamer, and coming into adulthood – one in which I could make my own choices – I thought of what it would be like to participate in a great shopping spree. Wow, then I could just grab anything I wanted! Craving such an experience, I’d search the T.V. channels for supermarket shows. I longed to see teams of people running up and down the isles, here and there, too and fro, just grabbing for what ever their hearts desire.

Coupons are like silver and gold to me, they carry weight. I once collected 4 coupons for the same product. It ended up costing only $2.50. Without that lovely coupon, I would have paid almost $7.00 for the same item. With additional coupons, and after the deductions, I saved over $30.00, that day, on my check-out total. What a charge! What a thrill! I floated out of that store on a “pink cloud.”

I always leave a market feeling good. With the sales, coupons and meticulous shopping practices (always read your receipt), I leave markets feeling as if I’ve received more for less or something for almost nothing – tasty food, drinks, produce, meats, sweets and anything a person needs for good living – a head rush for me.

There’s a commercial that shows a female shopper hurrying out of the store in a mad rush, literally running, screaming to her awaiting husband, “Start the car! Start the car! Her loving husband, following orders, begins backing out of the stall while his wife hurryingly leaps into the car, hand full of shopping bags. She is so elated to have gotten a good deal, she felt as if it were a steal. I so relate to her excitement. I laugh out loud every time I see this commercial as I can relate. I love shopping. It makes me happy. Maybe it’s some kind of male spin on a typically female trend (shopping away the blues), but when it comes to supermarkets, it a man’s thing for me.

In this mental escape, a market place elates my every good emotion. I think of how nice it must be for a person to go into a market, or any store, and just pick up what they need. In total contrast, I think of how bad it must be for someone – maybe poor – to go into a super market, counting pennies, in need. That’s the blues! In such a circumstance, reading every sales paper, market hopping (if possible), and cutting out and saving coupons is crucial. I find it stimulating and even exciting, especially when I put one coupon with another, doubling the savings. What a charge!

As well, there are my favorite kinds of markets; the smaller, unassuming, corner grocery stores that cater to certain types of communities – the special needs of individual cultures. These generally small specialty markets cater to many groups such as Asians, Jews, Mexican, and Middle Eastern people, sometimes replicating stores found in their foreign lands.

I enjoy smaller markets. They take shoppers back to the basics. The isle ways are usually narrow, and the shelves are typically stocked with just enough. Sometimes antique, the shelves are handcrafted wood. The best thing is that there’s usually a smiling face. The clerks are attentive to customers. In these little community stores, the clerks really get to know you and are happy to meet your shopping needs. Every market provides a great service, quiet is kept. They all have their place. They all have class and style, rather large or small. Paying attention to these particulars in a market place is like therapy.

I watched the most surreal thing happen! I visited a small, old-fashioned, “mom-and-pops'” store in “Small Town,” Ohio. The courtesy and response to a cousin’s needs were met above and beyond the call of duty. This lovely scene took me back to the days when the clerk served the customer, not the customer serving the clerk. This market experience stuck in my mind for several reasons. The clerk, who just happened to be the owner of the store, and one of about 6 employees there, took great pride in attending to my cousin’s every need. He and the clerks provided a pleasant shopping experience. With a grand smile, not only did this gentlemen call her home when the meat order was ready, but he assisted her by carrying the box of meat all the way out of the store and to her car – even after I offered to carry the box out myself. I was shocked while pleased – a pleasing shopping experience and a story to go into my market memoirs.

It is a vice! It takes away the blues. I developed an incredible supermarket fetish. I love going grocery shopping. My wife loved it as much as me, not because she likes grocery shopping, but more so because It was one less domestic chore for her to do.

Without second thought and without budgetary constraints, shopping is therapy and surely can stop any person from singing the blues. I find such great pleasure in shopping at fancy markets like Gelsons, Whole Foods, Pavilions and Trader Joes (for health food “nuts”).

Rest Her lovely Soul, Mom is no longer around to tell me, “NO, you can’t have that.” Today, I know that whatever it is I want, the answer is “YES,” I can.