Even if you’ve never heard the phrase retail therapy, you can likely guess what it’s all about. You’re having a low day or week and you buy yourself a gift to lift your spirits. This is not the kind of shopping for something specific that you either need or really, really want. It has to be at least a little bit frivolous. For some people, it might be entertainment like music, movies or books. Others might head to the shoe store for a pair of killer stilettos, or to the nearest arts and craft supply spot to pick up the inspiration for a new project.
I may be the cheapest person in the world, but for me to enjoy this kind of thing, it has to involve minimal spending of actual cash. Years ago, my preference was for someplace where everything cost $1. I would grab an assortment of small, joy-bringing goodies, for example, a new candle, a sweet snack, a greeting card, a book and a bunch of silk flowers. It was great because I would walk out of the store feeling like a total baller while having managed to spend less than $10.
Living on an island makes retail therapy a little harder to come by. Since the geography and our small population means that we are either importing our goods, or buying from small-scale suppliers who don’t get the cost advantage that mass-production brings, many of things we want to buy cost a lot more than they might elsewhere in the world.
Still, there are a couple of ways I satisfy the craving for retail therapy without breaking the bank. Starting with the cheapest, there’s heading to a favorite online outlet and filling up my shopping cart. Nope, this is not a shopping spree, it’s a game of make believe. After my cart is full, I close down my browser and go to bed. By the next day, if I still want any of those things, I check what it would cost to ship them down here and mentally estimate the customs fees. That’s always enough to make the items look much less desirable.
Another way to bargain the retail therapy is to stick to secondhand shops. Normally, I head over the the Red Cross’ Thrift Shop. The stock is always changing, so pawing through the merchandise feels like a treasure hunt. Sometimes I don’t find anything that suits me, but there’ve been plenty of times I’ve come out with a great dress, a $1 necklace, or some wardrobe basics for the baby. The resale and consignment shop in Fish Bay is also a good spot, especially if you’re more into home décor or kitchen goodies. There’s another secondhand shop in East End that’s on my list to go check out but haven’t made it into yet.
Am I the only island dweller who’s stingy but still feels the occasional need for some retail therapy?
This column originally appeared in the Sept. 20, 2018 edition of the Limin Times.