It’s a question for the ages: is it better to shop online?
With online shopping, you can easily get reviews, compare prices, and simply type in a search to find what you’re looking for. You can then click your mouse and have the item gift wrapped and sent right to the recipient’s door. However, all you can see is an image. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if something is really worthwhile from a picture. Also, all that gift wrap and shipping can get expensive. And you have to worry about whether the package will get there in time.
Saturday night, I decided to do a bit of Christmas shopping in my robe. I needed a present for my grandparents. They like to bake pies, so I thought I’d get them a couple of pretty pie dishes that they could use for baking and serving. How hard could it be to find them? In fact, it was very simple. Cooking.com has a very large selection of ceramic pie dishes. I thought they’d like the one with the bird in the middle. And maybe a fluted one. So, I grabbed those and a pie server and went to check out. Once I added gift wrapping and shipping, my total price had gone up by $25. Surely, I thought to myself all snug and warm in my robe, I could find similar items, wrap them myself and ship them, and save some money. Am I really $25 worth of lazy? (Well, I am actually, but I thought I’d give this mall shopping thing a try.)
So, I canceled the order. Here’s what the non-online version was like (you don’t really have to read this to know the inevitable conclusion: it’s worth the $25 worth of lazy to shop in your robe):
P. and I decided to go shopping Sunday morning. I needed to run home and do a couple of things, notably get some cat litter for the poor cats, so I said I’d meet him back at his condo in 30-45 minutes. I drove up the hill towards the icy peak where I live. You know how in scary movies and Tom and Jerry cartoons the sky is blue, sun is shining, white, fluffy clouds float by and then the hapless heroine drives up the winding road to the top of the mountain and sees a dark castle, surrounded by a stormy sky, black clouds, and lightning? (See also the travesty of the nostalgic Disney ride of my childhood, The Haunted Mansion.)
Anyway, that’s where I live. Only without the castle. Seattle may be known for its rain, but just about any time it’s raining in Seattle, I get snow. Fortunately, everything was starting to melt, so I drove on through the slush to the grocery store to get the litter.
Actual conversation while in line:
Old man behind me (upon seeing the litter): Oh. You’re buying litter. You have cats.
Cashier: Or maybe she has to clean up an oil leak!
Old man (with growing revulsion): Stinky cats. Annoying cats.
Cashier: I need to get litter too.
Old man (now incredulously horrified): You have cats too?!
Cashier: Yeah, my girlfriend brought him home from the bowling alley.
Other cashier (to old man): I can take you over here.
Old man rushes to other line to get away from stinky cat owners.
Cashier: Man, I’m broke. They really need to give me more hours.
Fortunately, I was not required in this conversation.
I made it home to more snow and the stinky cats. I took a quick shower, changed the litter, stood in my closet, trying desperately to find something to wear… and the phone rang. “Hi.” “Has it been 30 minutes?” “It’s been an hour and a half.” “What?”
I had suffered from missing time yet again. Surely only the ringing phone broke me free from the alien abduction.
Cost Plus had no ceramic pie dishes. None. So, we braved the mall parking lot, where no one had Christmas spirit. William Sonoma had exactly one choice for ceramic pie dish. The Bon Home Store had one choice as well. And that was it for the entire mall. I picked up a gift certificate and that was the extent of our mall shopping. Surely Bed, Bath, and Beyond would have pie dishes. And we had coupons!
Sadly, Bed, Bath, and Beyond had exactly zero choices. However, they did have Senseo coffee makers, which I have been eyeing for a while. For myself, I mean, not as a gift. They were $70. But I had a 20% off coupon, which took $14 off. Plus, the box included $10 in free coffee, and I was about out of coffee anyway. Also, BB&B had a $10 gift card rebate. And Senseo is offering a $20 rebate. Which brought my total to $16. How could I not get it? That would be just throwing money away.
Unfortunately, there ended my search for a pie dish because we had a wine tasting reservation to get to.
So, I spent all day searching, and ended up with no gift. This would teach me that it’s better to grab something online when I see it, shipping and gift wrap costs be damned, except that had I done that, I wouldn’t have my shiny new coffee maker. So, maybe in-person shopping really is better.