Middle class retail is so dead now.
Bob and I went on an expotition yesterday to get him some clothes. Off to Adventure 16 we went! He needed some swim trunks from Patagonia and a jacket and pants thing from Sierra Design that folds up into its own bag.
Because it’s September, the store had no swim trunks. They’re still in the Patagonia catalog, however. We asked if they could order them for us, and they indicated that this might be possible. They all stood there looking uncomfortable; we were the only customers in the store. It was clear that they just wanted us to leave.
One employee did find a jacket (but no pants) of the folds-into-its-own bag line. We again asked if they could be ordered for store delivery and there was another uncomfortable silence with mumbling. The manager had his back to us most of the time and was on the phone otherwise, and fiddling with pieces of paper.
We left. Expotition: failed.
Today we met at Panera and I fired up the laptop. The Patagonia website had the swim trunks he wanted at half price, $18 instead of $36. We got him three pair. The Sierra Designs site had the pants he wanted and referred us to the REI site, where we bought those as well.
The REI site wanted us to go to a store to pick up the stuff, and pointed out it was FREE! shipping this way. So we clicked that button, only to find out that “items for store pickup may have an extended delivery time compared to mail delivery.” Clearly they just wait for your item to show up in the regular weekly shipments and then at some time you get a phone call. Fuck that. We spent the shipping charge for Internet order.
When I was a kid, there were lots of stores. We had department stores, toy stores, specialty hobby stores, hardware stores, discount stores, all kinds! Some of the stores were in malls and others were not. Not all of them were chains.
That’s just gone now. The department stores were eaten by the big box chains. Same with toys and hardware. The discount stores became the big box stores. Everything is a chain.
Now it’s all poor folks or rich folks, no bourgeois. The middle-class shopping experience has disappeared. If you have a shitload of money you can go to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus or some boutique place like Restoration Hardware and blow five bills on a few things. If not, you’re going to Target or Wal-Mart.
Bob is 60 so he finds this incomprehensible. But he likes the Internet. Click, click, done. He gave me $140 in cash to buy his shit with my laptop and then we had iced tea and bullshitted.