Everything in Maine is for sale. Even if it does not have a sign if you see something you like make the owner an offer, they may go on and sell it to you. Carter and I ventured over to Harpswell and Orr’s island this morning. Carter was a good egg about driving around exploring with me even though it was not as exciting as either of us wanted it to be.
We went through Brunswick and I drove her through Bowdoin’s campus. Carter felt like she was not cut out for going to school in such a cold place. Good thing for me because this is really far from home.
As we went further down the peninsula to the waters edge we counted more houses for sale than not. Boats were the next big ticket item that everyone seemed to be selling in their front yards. In the stretch of three miles I saw three what I would call water ski boats in various states of distress, a big ‘ole lobster boat, six different sail boats, half wooden the others fiberglass and a giant cabin cruiser with two hulking’ ass engines all for sale. Not one of these boats were in the water, nor were they at a marina. It was Iike a big progressive boat yard sale.
Art or what some consider art was the third most prolific thing for sale. With so many people cooped up during the long cold winter I’m sure that creating art is a popular pastime. Summer seems like the only time these artists can get rid of some of their works, what with all the tourists here. At our hotel I have met people from Texas, Illinois, Arizona, California, Florida and every eastern seaboard state. The only problem is they are all old and not in the collecting time of life.
After our Harpswell jaunt Carter and I stopped for lunch in Brunswick and ventured into a giant antiques store after our Thai food. Antiques rival art as the next big category of things for sale in Maine. With so many old people dying off up here there are a lot of people trying to get rid of what their relatives thought was collectible. Lucky for us this was an actual antique store and not a flea market full of Hummels and Yadro.
I did find a beautiful Majolica platter for a greatly reduced price. Carter, after studying all about wars in history class took a particular interest in the war pieces. I was happy she was not interested in the Nazi memorabilia, but I had to tell her no to a revolutionary war spear head for a riffle. I was sure it would not make it through security at the airport and I did not want to check something that valuable. I’m sure the luggage thieves who riffle through suitcases were all looking for revolutionary war memorabilia. I was just happy that Carter took an interest in something old.
After tea we are off to L.L. Bean to buy that suitcase we need to get all our other Maine purchases home. I and my American Express card need to get home quickly and take a rest. Shopping and eating out are things I don’t need to do anymore.
Many women find shopping to be their sport of choice. One of my sisters even had as her high school yearbook quote, “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” For most women the idea of having to buy a new smaller sized wardrobe excites them. I am not most woman.
I have never found strolling through stores looking at stuff very much fun. The older I get the worse it is. I am getting to be more and more anti-stuff. Early on in life I identified one the reasons I hate to shop is that many of the people who work in big giant corporately owned chains are not really interested in my business. I like it when someone is glad I might buy something from her and does not look at helping me as a burden.
I am glad to lose weight, but the finding clothes to wear part is completely draining.
Yes, I like being able to shop in “regular” sized people clothing stores rather than “giant” sized but for the most part I really don’t give a hoot about new clothes. Almost more than my dislike for shopping is my dislike of spending money on something I see as temporary. I need clothes to fit me now, but I am hoping that the clothes I buy now won’t fit me next winter.
This week has been a killer on the clothing front. I had to be in a TV show, go to two luncheons; a press conference, a board meeting and now I have two cocktail parties this weekend and church. I should have had a wardrobe department to help me out.
I realized when I got an instructional email about the “Festive” attire for one of the parties that I needed to step up my game and broke down and went to a store. I picked the store strategically so that I could not get arrested because a clerk infuriated me, keep my sense of humor and still find something to wear in less than two hours.
I went to a local boutique called Smitten owned by Nancy McKaig and hit the jackpot. First, Nancy is great at making sure you get the help you need and the people who work there make it fun while still being helpful. Second, she has different things than you see in every store in the mall so you won’t see yourself coming and going. The bonus was that she had two artists, Amanda Davis and Baba Berthe setting up their jewelry and accessories for a weekend show and if you bought something from them you got 20% one thing from Smitten.
Well I found a great scarf from Amanda, which was practically free because I got 20% off a dress for the “festive attire” party, cha-ching! I also feel great about supporting a local business that means the money I spend here stays here and keeps local people employed. Why didn’t I think to go to Smitten at the beginning of the week? I’m not changing my attitude about shopping, but I am a lot happier to have another dress in my closet that fits.
It is no wonder that the Internet has made huge inroads in the fashion business because stores could hardly do a worse job of having great employees and creating spaces that make it easy, comfortable and attractive to try on clothes.
I hate to shop in stores. This is not a new thing. That is unless the store is run by the owner who has a vested interest in actually helping me, sells enough that the store is profitable so it does not have merchandise all crammed together and has beautiful dressing rooms, with someplace to sit down and most importantly great lighting.
One of the only bad things about dieting is that you have to buy some clothes to wear while going down, but you don’t want to buy many because the hope is you will shrink out of them. When changing sizes you really need to visit a store to see what fits so it makes Internet shopping out of the question. You see, the only thing I hate more than visiting a clothing store is having to go to my local post office to mail a package of wrong sized clothes back to the seller.
I am sure this hatred of shopping is genetic on my paternal side. My father told me of his childhood horror of going to Montaldo’s, the nicest woman’s store in Winston-Salem with his mother when he was five. He says he would go immediately to the circular ladies night gown rack and hide in the middle because my Grandmother would run out of patience about ten minutes into her visit and stamp her foot and in a loud, smoked-too-much, scratchy voice say, “Who is going to wait on me?”
As much as father claims it scared him, he too wants to be helped at stores, just as I do. I am almost worst than my Grandmother, which my relatives all know is a really high bar to hurdle.
One December years ago I was in a Gap-like store trying to buy Christmas presents. There was one main check-out desk manned by the only person who apparently could run the cash register. There were three other “sweater folders” working in the store who did not ever proactively interact with the customers. Their sole purpose was to fold and refold clothes so the store always looked perfect, not so they actually helped sell something.
I had single handedly found four items to buy as presents and went up to the desk to pay. I was third in a line of six people all trying to keep our Christmas cheer while waiting an endless amount of time to give these people our money for the over-priced items and get the hell out of there.
Even though there appeared to be three cash registers and four employees, only the one who passed fifth grade math was allowed to use it. As I became the next customer to be checked-out the phone rang. Right in the middle of scanning my items the clerk helping me stopped, answered the phone, talked for at least a minute to the person on the phone and then, laying the receiver on the counter walked away from the register and me, money in hand.
“Wait,” I called out, the genetic twin of my Grandmother, “Can’t one of the sweater folders help the person on the phone and you keep ringing me out?”. The bored clerk, who was making the same amount of money whether they had any customers or not replied, “No.”
Quickly realizing I was about to be left I said, “The person on the phone is only inquiring about possibly spending money in your store. I am actually trying to spend money here. Please finish with me first.”
As the clerk slowly sauntered off to the back of the store she said, “The phone takes priority.”
This is when I am glad I do not carry a weapon, instead I carry a big mouth and a short temper. I did the only thing I could do at that moment. Turning to the other, much too patient, customers who were waiting behind me I said, “This store is not interested in us or our business, I suggest you leave with me now.”
I felt very empowered as two of the three other customers dumped their items on the front desk in a heap for the sweater folders to restock and walked out into the mall with me.
It was a real pain-in-the-ass because I had to do more shopping to find replacement gifts for the ones I did not buy there, but I was damned if I would patronize such an idiotic store again.
So this post is a cautionary warning that if you see me out about town and I’m naked, I have not lost my mind, I just did not have any clothes that fit and I could not bring myself to enter another store.