Ignorance as bliss?

I went to the mall today with the big kids and Doug’s sister. I had a pair of shoes for Aaron to exchange that had been a gift, and another pair I had purchased for him in Seattle that needed to be returned. Our first stop was a Croc’s kiosk where Aaron got to pick out his very own pair as a gift from his beloved Auntie. Mercy has a pair of Croc’s knock-offs that she loves, and Aaron was very excited to be like his sister, and I was excited for him to have a pair of shoes he could so easily slip on and off (especially while traveling).

The pair he picked out were a few dollars cheaper than the ones Sarah originally purchased so each kid got to pore over the trays of little decorative thingys (I know they have some cutesy name but I have no clue what it is) that stick into the shoes and select one. Aaron left with a ladybug and Mercy now has a slightly eerie Cinderella head dangling off of the top of her shoe.

After the Croc’s kiosk, we headed briefly to the Apple store where we posed for a picture with the very large photo on their wall of one of our dearest friends, Steven, an Apple employee who was photographed for a recent marketing campaign. Aaron LOVES Steven, and his face was so precious when he looked up at the giant Steven image on the wall and recognized him. After the little photo shoot, Sarah offered to take the kids to the children’s play area while I ran into Nordstrom’s to return Aaron’s other shoes. So they took off in one direction and I headed in another to finish my final last errand.

Walking into Nordstrom’s today, I was struck by how incredibly luxurious everything around me felt. And I realized that the fact that I don’t go to malls and so very rarely shop for anything has really tweaked me. I felt so out of place there and so overwhelmed by it all: so many sleek and shiny things that, in an instant, had me longing after them.

Walking toward Kids’ Shoes on the second floor, I passed the kid’s clothing section. A rack of children’s jeans caught my eye when I saw that they were Seven for all Mankind jeans. I thought to myself, “Wow, I can’t afford those jeans for myself. Who buys these things for their kids?” Knowing how quickly kids blow through clothing sizes, I was stunned to see the price tag for these pants: $119.00. I am pretty sure that is more than we have spent on kids’ clothing in the last three years!

On any given day, I may think about the fact that I wish we owned a home. And Doug can definitely get excited about a friend’s nice camera and wish he had one like it. But for the most part, we live “off the grid” so to speak in terms of the more image-y kind of stuff, which is surprising being that we live in L.A. But where we live plays a big part in that, and who our peers are likewise informs those desires. And I guess I was just surprised how little time it took inside of a mall for me to suddenly feel like I needed a bunch of stuff I had not given any thought to or had no desire for previously.

That could either be a statement as to my weakness for this or that luxury on a Nordstrom hanger, or it could illustrate how well we are played by any number of techniques used to convince us of desires we did not even know we had. Probably something of both.

I returned my shoes and was reminded of one of the reasons why we always shopped at Nordstrom’s growing up: attentive salespeople offering great service that makes shopping not feel like a chore. I left the store and met back up with Sarah and the kids, and realized this was maybe their fifth time ever being in a mall. The highlight for them? Macy’s escalators.


  1. I could so relate to your reaction to the mall! I generally try to stay away, but right now, am faced with needing to make a couple of trips for back-to-school clothes and shoes and a couple of things I need for a business trip. I’d love to avoid the whole mess, but the kids have outgrown their shoes… For me the hardest part is to go and get the items I need without getting sucked into the feeling that I “need” a bunch of other junk.

  2. Yep, that’s branding, and marketing at work to their fullest…they made you (almost) believe that you really needed what they were offering. Pretty amazing when you think about it…that’s tremendous power they exert over folks!

    $119 for a pair of jeans (even kid’s jeans!)?!! Seriously? I must be way off the grid because I’ve never heard of the brand you mentioned. $119! what the …! That’s nuts.

  3. I really can appreciate the reaction. I had parallel reaction a number of years ago when as a poor graduate student I entered a mall for the first time in 2 years. Only my reaction was more along the lines of “What a bunch of stuff!” Who really buys it.
    A few months later I was shopping with my brother for a Christmas present for his girlfriend. We saw a sweater in a store at one end of the mall when we entered. But we decided to compare. The same sweater on the same special was available in another store at the other end of the mall. I said something about that, and then a service woman next to me said, “We own that store too,this way we get people coming and going.”


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