Shopping Adventures and Misadventures

Last week involved some shopping. Oh, come on. Much as I loathe shopping, most weeks include at least some shopping, right? But since I was striking out into uncharted territory, I took some pictures along the way.

First, Hannaford has bowed to the massive grocery competition yet again. When grocery stores starting cropping up hither, thither, and yon around my house, I was not particularly psyched. I have to make a pretty major schlep to buy crafts or office supplies, but the grocery stores are practically stacked on top of each other. Historically, Hannaford’s been my favorite. When I first moved to the area with my teensy baby, there was a Hannaford and a Price Chopper near me, and I made a list of the items I bought most often, checked prices at both places, and started going to Hannaford because the prices were cheaper. But it morphed into the nostalgic favorite, especially when I can drag my 12-year-old to the store and the cashiers and baggers greet her by name and recall the good ol’ days when she fit into my baby carrier, while she smiles, puzzled, and refrains from rolling her eyes. So when they decided to renovate the place, I was bummed. I used to know where everything was. I used to be able to zip through there like it was a game show.  And now they’ve got shopping online, which just makes me worry that they’re not doing well in the face of all of this competition.

And I’m not their online grocery shopping market. I can understand that the service must rock when there’s a tight work schedule that must be accommodated, or if you buy a bunch of packaged stuff. But one of the perks I get in exchange for working only part-time from home is that I can go to the grocery store in the middle of the day and gently squeeze my own avocado, even choose the one that’s good for tonight and the one that will be ready by Thursday. Anyway, they gave me a $20 coupon for trying to shop online–I know, right? My first reaction was, “Woo, hoo! $20!” and my second reaction was, “Oh, no. This smells like desperation.” So in spite of my lack of enthusiasm, I shopped online to claim my $20. Really, it worked pretty well. You can add a comment with each item, so theoretically, I suppose that you could specify that you wanted a firm-not-squishy avocado or bananas that are closer to green than brown. But there were still miscalculations. I duplicated some stuff, and I ordered way too many nectarines. I can’t remember all of the errors that occurred on that first attempt, but definitely some were user errors. It was me. Then Cute W came home and was totally laughing at me. I think he was just generally not into the online shopping thing, which I get, because I agree, but I was like, “Don’t you see? I can’t ignore a $20 grocery coupon!! It would be criminal!!”

So I managed to use not only the items that I’d meant to purchase, but the extra stuff as well. And as a reward, can you guess what I got? That’s right: another $20 coupon off my next online order. And this time my reaction was more like, “Dammit. I mean, it’s good, but dammit. And also: this totally smells like desperation.” I tried my best to be very, very careful, but I still committed rookie errors, like ordering up 1 lb. of jalapenos instead of the 1 jalapeno that I’d intended:

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I mean, come on. Who uses that many jalapenos? I do not. Maybe there’s some sort of sinus cleanse that someone, somewhere does, but that is not me. So I could see where online shopping could absolutely be useful, and I might even do it again sometime. But, you know, not until I work my way through all of these jalapenos.

Meanwhile, back-to-school fever hit the house in late July when we got our L.L. Bean catalog and J identified her new Dream Backpack:

llbean bookpackOh, isn’t it beautiful? Do you see the water bottle holder on the side so that she can stay hydrated? The awesome-tastic pattern which is not too boring-old or too baby-young? It’s wonderful. She highlighted it carefully, and then she added some stars. Poor J had been suffering for much of the past school year with a backpack from Land’s End that she’d once liked very much. But then, slowly, it started to fall apart. It was subtle at first, with just an extra loop handle that she had used to hang it from a hook. Then other pieces came off. It was driving her crazy, because the backpack itself still looked pretty good, and the main compartments were still intact. And since it remained an (almost) fully-functional backpack, her (cruel, cruel) mother refused to buy her a new one. Every few weeks she’s show me another piece that fell off, and I said that it looked like it was still in working order, but she was welcome to buy herself a new one. But J doesn’t like to spend her money, she’d much rather spend Mom & Dad’s money. After her last report to me, quietly leaving a piece of backpack strap on my desk, I promised that we’d buy her a new one for the next school year.

So after the ongoing drama, and knowing that L.L.Bean backpacks are a hot commodity, I grabbed the highlighted catalog and started to order online the next morning. Nope: sold out. Luckily, we in the Capital District are fortunate to have a brick-and-mortar store near us, so much as I loathe going to the mall (and you know I do), we headed out in person to find the elusive backpack, or the next-best choice. But alas, it was not meant to be. Her first, second, and third choice were all already sold out. I was deeply, deeply bitter. J was deeply, deeply sorrowful. And then it became a vicious circle: was I so bitter about the backpack itself, or J’s sorrow? And was J so sorrowful because of the backpack, or because I was so bitter? In any case, we grudgingly bought a 4th-choice backpack.

And then we saved the day by taking a quick walk-through of Whole Foods Market. Cue the trumpet fanfare! Oh, man, we loved Whole Foods. The adorable terrariums. The peanuts that you could grind into peanut butter right in the store. The lovely soaps-and-spa displays.

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The local ice cream, including SoCo, which we had to buy because we’d loved it so when we’d visited their ice cream place in person (although, note to Whole Foods: I need their mint chip).

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After being so demoralized over the backpack, Whole Food rejuvenated us. J said it was her new favorite place.

Later, I got on Facebook and one of the sponsored posts was advertising the L.L.Bean backpacks. I left a message like, “Too bad my daughter’s first, second, and third choices are all already sold out.” I know what you’re thinking: it’s time to get over it. This is totally a first-world problem. And I know, I know. But I’m feeling my spoiled-rotten, first-world-mama feelings, and I can’t help it. And it sure doesn’t help that thanks to The Miracle of Cookies, every time I get online these days, the ad for backpacks pops up. Incidentally, if you’ve never complained on social media, it’s totally worth doing. In the past, folks have been very responsive to both Cute W and me, and it happened again here. Someone from L.L.Bean contacted me and then checked with all the retail stores to try to find a backpack for J. No luck. We are partly screwed by the academic calendar, here, because all the parents whose kids start back to school in mid-August kicked our collective ass. Sigh.

And finally, I’ve got this photo because these sandals are a reminder of why I hate shopping: because I am not psychic. I love these Naturalizer Aurora sandals.

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They are no longer available.

By the time I realized just how much I loved them (how very comfortable they are, how they can look fancy with a dress or casual with shorts, how the heels are high but feel better than flats, how the strap is perfectly positioned to leave plenty of room for my bunions to stretch out happily and say howdy) the season was over and they were no more. This is why I don’t understand how women enjoy buying shoes. It’s so hard for me to find shoes that are comfortable, and then for them to look cute, too? Well nigh impossible. I think maybe other women are more comfortable with being uncomfortable than I am? I don’t want to wear anything that makes me feel like limping, and I have a low start-to-limp threshold, I guess.

So what ends up happening is that I have a pair of shoes that I love that will die someday, and each season is like a ticking time bomb: will this be the year that I can find another great sandal? And if not, will the current pair last? I had a long, committed relationship with some woven brown mules from Payless for years, because they repeated the style for a couple of seasons in a row, so I had the chance to stockpile. But generally, I pick something that leads to heartache and disappointment. Like the sandals that were very comfortable until they fell apart prematurely, or the sandals that truly are comfortable, but that are just a bit too big, so that they slap loudly against the bottom of my feet, wherever I go. The linings on these sandals are beginning to fray, so I’ll have to continue the hunt next spring. Just remind me to do it in March, before everything sells out.

4 Comments

  1. Claire

    I probably get over half my weekly groceries at Hannaford. I go there for items that are not on sale anywhere else, and for items that I don’t have a coupon for (except for a couple of items that are cheaper at Target). But, pricey as Price Chopper and Shoprite are for everyday prices, their sale prices are much better than Hannaford, especially when matched with coupons. Same thing as the drug stores. So over the course of a week I end up going to at least 3 stores, getting just over 50% of my groceries at Hannaford and then shopping the sales and pairing with coupons at the other stores. Which sounds like a lot of time and running around, except that all these stores are within a few miles of my house so it isn’t as big a deal. I don’t enjoy shopping and I’m not great at couponing but I have definitely saved money since I started this system. Tonight I’m going to an extreme couponing workshop, so we’ll see if I end up changing my approach!

  2. @Claire, I’m terrible at using my coupons. I’m notorious for remembering them two days after the expiration date. And I run around to different stores, too, but I wish that I didn’t have to do it. . . . Hope the workshop gives you some good tips!

  3. Carol Jones

    My husband would have no trouble eating a pound of jalapeños! But then he us a Texan!

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