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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Shopping as Investing

If you know me at all, you know I don’t particularly enjoy shopping.  I’d rather give money away than spend it on myself.  When I need something (and my definition of need is rather Spartan), I look at my shopping trip as a type of investment.  Let me explain:

1)      Shopping as an investment in my community.  I try to shop close to home, supporting businesses that are more likely to employ fellow residents of my city.  I try to purchase items that are made in Canada whenever possible, even if that means the price is higher or if it takes more effort.  I was shopping for winter boots on Monday night but went home empty-handed because all I could find was “Made in China.”  (For the full story of my last pair of winter boots, see my post from last March.)  Two days later I tried a different store and was successful in finding a pair made for the Canadian climate by a Canadian manufacturer.
2)      Shopping as an investment in people.  Shopping can easily become an impersonal transaction.  Consider the trend towards shopping in which there is no face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with another human being.  I recall hearing that my grandfather used to do all the shopping for his family at the general store.  He presented his list and the proprietor would gather the items for him and have a chat at the same time.  When the general store in the village closed down and he was forced to shop at a self-serve grocery store in town, he literally could not cope with the impersonal nature of the experience.  My grandmother, who did not know how to drive, was chauffeured to the supermarket and began making the purchases from then on.  To invest in people, I do not shop online.  I try to have conversations with the salespeople and show appreciation for their work.
3)      Shopping as an investment in a product.  I am not at all interested in disposable things.  Rather, I am looking for things that will last a long time whether it is footwear, a furnace or furniture.  By purchasing things that will last, not just for me but for others who might use the item after me, I am trying to avoid waste of resources both monetary and material.

Please leave a comment if any of these types of “investment” are part of your shopping experiences.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, while "investment" is not a word that I traditionally associate with shopping, it is fitting. We try to shop locally and are quite aware of our environmental footprint as we purchase grocery type items. Our love for the outdoors has had a huge impact!

    I work in a thrift store and am amazed at the range of goods that we are able to divert from landfill by resale as well as by recycling...unusable clothing is sent to a processing plant in Toronto which turns them into rags as well as carpet!

    I always enjoy a chat with clerks as well as with customers, being on both sides of the counter :) Some are surprised when I try to engage them in conversation and others are not interested at all. (Kind of like figuring out what kind of traveler you are seated beside on an airplane :)