Thursday, January 4, 2018


Shopping - like buttermilk - is not for everyone. Some people positively hate it.  They consider shopping strictly an obligation, one to be quickly exhausted so that they can get back to doing whatever it is they prefer to do. And they're not open to being convinced otherwise. Personally I tackle shopping with gusto.  Foremost it begins with mere curiosity. I enjoy seeing what's out there. Wherever you shop there is a very real chance that you'll stumble upon something unimaginable which tweaks your interest. Even a hardware store is moderately engrossing though I confess I'm less fiery about cookware. On balance it is a credit to human ingenuity that people continue to invent things and produce new takes on old ideas (this is especially true for technology buffs). Shopping is not just about buying exactly what you set out to buy. I consider it an accomplishment to have browsed the retail overtures even if nothing reverberates. As well shopping builds a treasury of ideas for comparison. In that sense shopping is power in the same way knowledge generally is.

What however particularly intrigues many serious shoppers isn't novelty or accumulating comparative capital but finding a bargain. There are some who succumb to almost any deal as long as it is a deal. This can in my opinion lead to some preposterous spending at any price. For my part I am more constrained. There are only certain things which draw me in no matter what the price. Though that sounds refined, it isn't.  My selectiveness is the product of aging. My preferences now are diluted and pragmatic.  Clothes for example no longer involve style or material but rather comfort and utility. Within those perameters there is no need to exceed financial bounds.  Au contraire the project is motivated by what's easy and useful rather like rejecting anything which can't be put into the dishwasher. Clearly the posture entails compromise and a narrowing of thrust;  but couched as the wisdom of age it stands as sagacity.

There are certain people in my life who are conspicuous for their financial restraint.  I'm tempted to use a less desirable description but I don't want to disparage what would only highlight my own spendthrift habits. The odd thing about those same people is that while they approach being miserly on one level they are routinely lavish on another. If nothing else the seeming paradox accommodates the inexpensive purchase of some things and the luxury of others. Where the line is apparently drawn is not the compelling need for uniform superfluity but rather judicious compromise. I thus find myself warming to parsimony. The economic inclination promotes practicality over pretence which surely must be viewed charitably.

The stinting preoccupation is not something which circulates in just any social circle. Unless there is assurance of involving like-minded penny-pinchers (in which case niggardliness attracts remarkable approbation) parsimony can be an awkward subject. But there are grounds for elevating the topic to a more abstract station. There is a difference between mean and meagre.  For example at some point in life boar bristles and badger hair are not imperative for one's toothbrush or shaving brush. Likewise the sometimes astonishingly clever devices used to acquire quality goods at superb prices can be far more entertaining. I knew a chap who bought solid sterling cutlery piece-by-piece in antique stores.  Though the pieces were all unique and did not "match", his table was nonetheless extraordinarily beautiful and loaded with conversational ammunition.

Whatever option one chooses, one continues to prefer a discerning choice of retailer. There are notoriously some vendors who do nothing but reaffirm the adage that "you get what you pay for". The object of stinginess is not poor quality but a good bargain. Surprisingly it requires commercial savvy to isolate those retailers who truly provide something more cheaply than usually expected. The people who have this acute knowledge are not people of limited means; in fact they are often whip-smart and streetwise. By degrees their scholarship has insinuated my own retail experience.  I will however temper my perceived zeal by reiterating that the scope of my expenditure has suffered the same declension as my other components.  The days of the Big Spender are so pass√©!

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