Retail Therapy

When you’re down, shop. It’s pretty much the backbone of the retail industry, along with the basis for some very successful Sophie Kinsella books.

Problem is, it doesn’t work for me. Partly because, I don’t hold back. If I need or want something (reasonable) I just get it. I don’t need to splurge when I’m down. Also, I’ve noticed I don’t usually like the things I buy when I’m down. I find I wear the clothes less, accessories get relegated to the back of the closet, et cetera.

Then there is the whole monetary issue. I usually don’t get guilt pangs when I shop, because I know my limits. Still, when I shop in a funk, I later regret and feel guilty about spending money I don’t have on things I don’t need. Vicious cycle.

Except, there is one exception. One weensy little exception. Books. (Did anyone NOT see that coming?)

I can always buy books. Always. I never have a problem finding something to purchase in a bookstore. Have I mentioned that I LOVE bookstores? Amazon is great, don’t get me wrong. If it were legal, I’d marry Amazon. But Amazon is no substitute for a bookstore. If Amazon were my husband, Barnes and Noble would be my best friend and Borders, my overly demanding lover.

Monday night, I was leaving work and my car steered itself straight to the bar. After dinner, drinks, and conversation with my favorite bartender in the whole world, I was feeling marginally better. I headed for home about 6:30 pm. As I was driving, I blinked and found myself in the Borders parking lot. I knew I would pass it, but I had no desire to stop and buy books. I have unread books at home (a rarity). Still, there I was. I dragged myself out of the car and in the doors. Stepping inside I was confronted with the powerful smell of new books, permeating the air. I took what felt like the first deep breath in weeks. I felt better.

I wandered. In and out of aisles. Random turns. No direction. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, as I told at least three people (Borders is so demanding). I was just…relaxing. I felt better. I was in my happy place. I picked up this and that. I read blurbs. I admired pretty covers and paper texture. I absorbed.

Eventually, I found the clearance rack. I snagged a crockpot cookbook on clearance for $6. I found a teenage fantasy novel based on Alice in Wonderland. Score. I found that the second in a series I just began was released in paperback, so I grabbed that, too. I grabbed nothing but random items. When I’d circled the whole store, I moved, automatically, toward the register. To my everlasting surprise, there was no line. I’ve never not had to wait in line at Borders. They always only have one register open.

In the space of 20 minutes, I managed to drop $40 in books. Unneeded, but appreciated. The best things about books are that they don’t expire, they never get old, you can reuse them as often as you like and there are always more to appreciate. They’ll get read. Except the cookbook. You don’t read cookbooks, you use them. But it will get used.

As I drove home, I felt better. It’s crazy. Spending money on books lifted my spirits. Marginally, I grant you, as I was sleeping by 7:30 pm, but it was a much needed start. Maybe retail therapy isn’t so crazy, maybe you just need the right retailer.

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