What’s the last (non-grocery) thing you bought in a store?

Sometimes I’m sure I do my best writing in email. I wrote this as a part of one email this evening.

I went to Macy’s yesterday, just to see if they are still open. It is tacked on to the back of the mall here and we drive around it some days in the pursuit of tiny little errands. Every time the Macy’s lot is just about deserted. Closed Kmart deserted.

Both Kmart stores and the Sears have disappeared since we got here. This is not the first town that’s happened in. We are like the Fifth Horseman of Sears closings. (This would be a great gag, not just Four Horsemen, but a lot of them, and each successive one is less fearsome.) I went in, and it feels like Blockbuster and Circuit City during their last painful retail heaves. Over the death rattle you could hear me think: Who is paying $80 for a shirt? People doing that surely aren’t doing that at Macy’s.

The mall is also physically lashed onto the Target, which is the appropriate amount of brick-and-mortar successful. I haven’t seen the data, but I bet that Target and the adjacent Chick-fil-A keep the whole mall afloat. Eat mor chikin. Buy mor stuf.

That all sounds desperately condescending in that way that feels most natural to my Mallrats generation. (An association I wish I could shake, while also keep most of my mall experiences intact.)

I spent 14 seconds peering into a few shelves and racks, though, listening to the few employees on the floor giggling about whatever, though, without feeling like doing a web 2.0 dance. There’s no happiness in retail going under, just a loss of more jobs and more empty real estate. One Kmart here is right now some sort of auto mechanic holding pattern, but will become that early 21st century commercial development “multiuse.” The city is trying to figure out what to do with the second one. They are soliciting ideas. The Sears became a grocery store, sort of.

I’m a culprit here. Most of my shopping is now online. I’m having a difficult time thinking up the last thing I bought that wasn’t a food or a drink in a store. Probably it was lumber.

I will go out and see those Going Out Of Business Sales. I hit both of the Kmart stores here. The nearest one stocked up the house once or twice. The other was just a way to avoid traffic for a while. The last time I did that at a Sears the prices were still ridiculous. We bought a dryer, but maybe only because it was easier to borrow a friend’s pickup than to get Amazon to ship that Prime.

At Macy’s though, I looked at the shirts and thought, even at the sale price, and after that promised 20 percent off when you sign up for The Credit Card of Poorly Informed Mistakes, that’s still more than I paid for the last shirt I got online. The economics are all screwy. And when I got home there were two new pieces of cycling kit in the mailbox, which I purchased at a fraction of the retail price.

I’m not saying anything new there, but just imagine what the subsequent Horsemen would be. Granted, the drop off from Death to Closer of Past Their Prime Retailers is a steep one. A few more down the line and you get Phantom Nose Itch or Disturber of Daydreams.

We had barbecue last night, and a homemade stir fry tonight. Ask me about those stories sometime. Both dishes were good, at least one of the stories is mildly entertaining. I also put together a bunch of slides on lead writing, and thought more about op-ed pieces than anyone ever should, really, and did that in two separate sittings. But that’s where we are in the world today. The op-ed-related horseman being 45th or so.

No, the last thing I bought in a store was buttons. I had to sew on a new cuff button for a Brooks Brothers shirt. I purchased that online sometime last year.

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