Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Front Porch View of Holiday Shopping

By: L.A. Kohl
Nov. 15, 2004
(published in the Wednesday, Dec. 8 2004 edition of the “Bull’s Eye”, Vol. 1, No. 7

Have you ever stopped to think about the development of our modern day, gigantic “department” stores, and mega size grocery stores? Few people 50 years ago would have dreamed that stores of 75,000 square feet plus would be the norm in the 21st century. There are times when I will tell you that I do NOT like these mega stores – the crowds, the long lines, the walking forever to find everything you want – it especially unnerves me when I have several children with me. But I had to do without anything even closely resembling them a few years ago, and now I think twice before complaining.

Our family spent nine weeks in northern India in 2001. We were located in a town of about 35,000 people, but not one department store. The town was in the Himalayan foothills – thus, there was only one road, and the whole town was built along that one road going stretched out for miles. If you think walking around a one-stop shop is a pain, try walking a few miles down, and back up, a 30-40 degree inclined road, going from one shop to another trying to find the items you want. We literally had shin splints the first several days! I never did find the clothing store. I found a shop or two that sold coats and sweaters, but I wanted a Punjabi suit, a traditional Indian woman’s outfit. All the other women that I met were wearing them, so I asked another westerner where she bought hers. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

“Oh,” she said, “You can’t buy them around here. Just go to a tailor’s shop, pick out a cloth you like, and he’ll measure you and make one especially to fit.”

Well, I was about seven months pregnant, so the idea of having some stranger take my measurements was just a little too intimidating for me!

The shops in this town were all very small and specialized. As I’ve already mentioned, one shop would be a tailor. Another shop would consist of someone selling stainless steel kitchen utensils. Yet another would be selling junk food – sodas, candy, chips and “biscuits” (basically little cookies.) The next shop might be selling medicines. So, if you wanted a pain reliever AND a birthday card – plan on walking to two different shops.

The one shop that we got the biggest “kick” out of was the egg store. Yes, it sold absolutely nothing but eggs, and they were all one size, one color and in one kind of package! Can you imagine a store like that in America, the land of plenty (of variety?) I checked the egg section of one of Columbia’s huge stores, and the selection is can buy medium, large, extra-large or can buy white or can buy organic, vegetarian fed, or “never caged” can buy a half dozen, or a dozen, or a dozen and a half, two and a half dozen or even five dozen per can even buy egg substitutes!

It’s about so much more than variety, though. During the holiday season, as you fight your way through the crowds at the mall, huge department stores, or any of the mega size grocery stores, take a moment to be thankful for the mass of abundance and diversity that surrounds you. We truly are a blessed nation. Rather than griping about having to park in the “back 40” because the parking lot is so crowded, or whining about the long lines at the check-out counters, maybe we should try to be a little more appreciative of our country’s great abundance.

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