Buyer Beware!

Black-Friday-photography-dealsUpon making stupid mistake of taking my two young daughters to Yorkdale, Toronto’s biggest enclosed shopping mall, I felt inspired and “enlightened” to share some thoughts with you of this harrowing experience.

For those of you who live in Toronto and never get out much or are from another city or country and have never been to Toronto, Yorkdale Shopping Mall is one of the largest enclosed shopping malls in Canada. In fact, it just recently expanded adding about another 150 stores to an already massive stable of national and international retailers.

Pardon my french…its fucking huge!

I remember the Yorkdale of my youth; the one that my mom would take my sister and I to because the closest mall to our home was an outdoor plaza that had one department store and that was about it.

If you really needed stuff, Yorkdale was the place to go. It was just the right size and had a great counter in the basement of Simpsons (a now defunct department store), where I would go with my mom for hot dogs, french fries and a soft drink. Those were the days….

Yorkdale still is the place to go but you have to have your examined to go anywhere near it.

Clearly, last Saturday, I needed to have my head examined.

My daughters wanted to go to Yorkdale to look around for “stuff” They had a pocket full of baby-sitting money that was clearly burning a hole and they needed to part with some of it (although I did tell them to spend half and save half).

Although they could have easily taken the subway, my wife and I decided to drop them off and then to head out and do our own errands…typical of any weekend routine.

While the mall recently expanded, the access to it has remained the same. I just don’t think the roads heading into the mall can handle the increased capacity of all these cars.

It took us 30 minutes to get them there and took over 45 minutes for my wife and I just to get out. While I would like to say that with age comes patience, last Saturday was the exception, I was going nuts as I white-knuckled the steering wheel.

Last Saturday also coincided with the American phenomenon “Black Friday”; which clearly extended beyond the single day and this year went beyond borders, with many Canadian retailers and shopping malls trying to cash in on the craze of Black Friday and keep many Canadians from cross-border shopping.

Retailers gave people even more reason to buy stuff they really don’t need.

This has been a recurring theme in many of my previous blogs; “need versus want”.

That parking lot was filled to the gills. Even the furthest parking stall from the front door of the mall was taken. I can only imagine what it was like inside. The sea of humanity walking the aisles must have been overwhelming.

I used to be a huge fan of bricks and mortar retail. Many things, including clothing, I prefer to buy in a store environment. I can interact with the product, touch it, feel it, try it on…look at myself in the mirror; “hemming and hawing” before I make my decision.

These days, I am thinking much differently about the whole shopping experience. Firstly, other than essentials such as food, I rarely go into malls to buy stuff. Firstly, I don’t have the money to do it and secondly, I am so turned off by stores that I really have little desire to participate in shopping therapy. The only time you could get me to go to a mall is first thing when they open (or…on Saturday afternoons when I stupidly decide to drive my children).

Otherwise…keep me away.

Dropping my kids off on that Saturday, even if it was within weeks of the most commercialized holiday of them all, Christmas, brought into clear focus how consumed consumers are with consuming. We can’t get enough of buying shit…for ourselves or for others.

We max-out credit cards and work like mad-dogs so we can have the newest and greatest of whatever it is we want. We are addicts…craving that hit and euphoria of getting something new but quickly come down from that high once the excitement of its newness wears off. To maintain that “buz”, we work and work and save and save and go deeper into debt so we can experience the sensation again and again.

For what? Many companies like Apple remind us of how important it is to stay hip and to “keep up with the Joneses” by having the newest and bestest gadget. They don’t care what you have to go through to make that happen, they just need the cash flow.

As we head further to December 25, I beg you…don’t get sucked in! Beware of all the traps and all the enticements shopping malls like Yorkdale and retailers like Apple are going to try to throw at you to part with your hard earned money.

Stay strong…don’t cave into the craving or your kids begging you or putting on that “puppy dog” face to make you feel guilty for not buying them something.

It’ll soon be all over – until the sales start in January.

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About I'm Just A Dad

Stephen Gosewich is just a Dad (he is a former Enlightened Male but decided to change the name because when you search Enlightened Male, "other...wink, wink" are displayed. He spends his days during the week as a working stiff. At all other times, he just enjoys hanging out with his best friend and wife and their two very active and inspiring daughters.
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