Quiet Despertation

Days of shopping around now move in small circles

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 5/2/17

Let's pile into the car and drive to the mall.

It used to be an event, and sometimes a road trip from Nowhere, Colorado, for a day of shopping at a big city's retailers or mall.

Now?

Stores …

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Quiet Despertation

Days of shopping around now move in small circles

Posted

Let's pile into the car and drive to the mall.

It used to be an event, and sometimes a road trip from Nowhere, Colorado, for a day of shopping at a big city's retailers or mall.

Now?

Stores we grew up with are dropping one after the other. I don't know if it's good or bad, but we all know the reasons why.

Money reported, "It's possible more than 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores will close their doors in 2017."

I haven't been to a mall store in over 10 years. I can't remember when.

Grocery stores, box hardware stores, art supply stores, and that's about it.

I think if I could get my teeth cleaned on Amazon, I would.

Your correspondent used to work in a department store.

McAlpin's. Middletown, Ohio.

I was a salesboy, age 18, and I worked in "notions." It was a catch-all department that included sheets and pillow cases and greeting cards, and lots of women.

Women were the employees and women were the shoppers. I liked it, even though I was looked at skeptically at first.

However, I researched sheets: flat, fitted, and their thread counts. Blankets: wool, cotton, electric, fuzzy throws.

I really knew my blankets, and when the Cincinnati-based chain held a July blanket sale contest, I was ready.

I finished second.

That summer, I attended the Beatles' concert at Crosley Field, which is long gone.

I paid $9 each for our tickets.

McAlpin's opened its first store on Fourth Street in downtown Cincinnati in 1880.

If you are from that part of country, you might have heard of McAlpin's and its competitors, Shillito's and Pogue's.

All three have gone bye-bye.

Ultimately, I was not meant for retail. Think of David Letterman, when he was an Indianapolis weatherman.

"The hailstones were as big as canned hams," he once said.

When I moved to Colorado, I was a regular at the Aurora Mall.

There was no internet.

I think the only reason why I would go to a mall store now would be to look at people.

But I am sure that they would all be on their phones. Who wants to people-watch that?

Instead I sit right here, where I am writing this, and read reviews, compare prices, find out about shipping charges, if any, and add something to my cart.

What do I miss? Salesmen and saleswomen, who knew what they were talking about.

There was a vacuum cleaner salesman at Sears who was so good that I felt like I should buy three of them.

He's long gone, and Sears' future is not looking bright.

Like I said, I don't know what to think. Should I be sad, when I know that I am a co-conspirator?

Where will all the employees go? That concerns me.

When I bought my first computer, I used it for school work, and that was about it. I could create and save course outlines from one semester to the next.

From there, Pandora's box turned into everything imaginable, including this on-screen Word document, which will be converted somewhere (I don't know where) by someone (I don't know whom), into what you are holding (or reading online).

Things change. A hot dog at Coors Field is $9.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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