Why The Mall Gives Me Hives

Stephen and I got an unexpected Sunday afternoon without our kids because they want to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Did I mention that grandparents rock? So, what to do, what to do.

Catching Fire – that’s what we did. And it was an awesome movie. I totally geeked out. But, I also started itching. Because the movie theater was in a shopping mall.

And after spending six months purging my house of extraneous crap, I no longer love the mall. I don’t love the crowds. I don’t love the noise. Or fighting to walk through hundreds of people loaded down with a billion shopping bags. Listening and watching children demand more. Nor do I love Christmas decorations and songs before Thanksgiving. But mostly, I have grown to loathe the advertising. Lots and lots of advertising.

Buy One, Get One Free! Spend $100, Get $50 In-Store Bucks! Up to 50% Off!

Buy, Buy, Buy! Accumulate, Accumulate, Accumulate!

I’m over it. Because it’s meaningless. I actually walked through the mall and wanted nothing. Okay, I lied. I got a latte. And it was delicious. Overpriced, but delicious. I left the mall emptyhanded, but having enjoyed an amazing movie and rare time alone with Stephen. We actually talked. About the fact that the Texas legislature approved the removal of Algebra II from the state high school graduation requirements. And about healthcare decisions for next year. And about the kids. We talked about the fact that the mall had no bookstore in it.

Because the 2:15 showing was sold out and we had to wait for the 3 p.m. we had time to kill. And so we walked the loop of the entire mall.

And I got itchy. Twitchy, in fact.

To get out. Out of the stores filled with stuff that would be long forgotten come the end of January. Or purchased by people who would end up paying double because they put it on a credit card and didn’t pay it off in full and paid 25% interest, wiping out any possible savings they could have enjoyed in November.

And we talked about how poor financial decision making seems to go hand in hand with the accumulation of the disposable, which is designed not to last, keeping you coming back for more. The concept of planned obsolescence. And how we’d fallen for it, hook, line and sinker.

But we never once talked about buying stuff. About how we want this or that. Or where can we get the best deal on this gadget or on that pair of shoes. Or how much we can get for “free” from wherever.

And that’s the best gift of all, I think. The awareness. Of how the system works. Of how stuff can own you. And making a conscious decision to not play into it. To embrace the concept of enough. We have enough. So the advertising fails. It doesn’t entice us to buy. We don’t fall for it.

Will you?

22 Responses to Why The Mall Gives Me Hives

  1. I hate the mall as well and avoid it. I have not actually stepped foot in the mall since earlier this year when my husband was on the search for some pants for work to wear because the ones he had, had worn out. He did ask if there was anything I needed and at the time I was looking for a swimsuit for vacation but, decided not to pay the high price for the one I was looking at and did without.

  2. Enjoyed your post so much! I feel more and more this way and have been working on clearing out, even though I have never been much of a keeper. I am married to one and that makes it challenging, but I don’t try to force him and was proud when we went through our whole kitchen together and actually got rid of several boxes!
    My trouble is Christmas…..I really need nor want anything except time with my family….and good food! Lol…..I feel conflicted because I still do have gifts to buy, but we did cut our list by about a fourth this year and agreed that time is the best gift. I enjoyed the posts that tell me what I’m doing is enough for now, and this one that made me realize that I will not miss Black Friday at all this year! Keep up your good work!

  3. My family and I went to the mall this weekend and bought nothing. We are also done with Christmas shopping. I got a small bonus at work and I’m dividing it between our two god children and giving them that, and that’s all. No more shopping for us. It feels great not to be using the credits cards to buy Christmas gifts. I also told my husband to warn his family ahead of time that we are not buying any gifts this year. That way they don’t feel obligated and we don’t feel uncomfortable when we get together for the holidays.

    • I really admire this stance you are taking. I’m not able to do that with my tweenage daughter but the giving is down by less than half this year and practical “needed” items are mostly being given. That’s my way of feeling more conscious about it.

  4. I had a long overdue lunch at The Cheesecake Factory yesterday at our local mall. I walked through the mall to get the restaurant. The feelings that arose within me were one of loneliness and a real realization that I no longer belong in this domain. My husband (also Steve!) and I have decided to only exchange a gift that we need and this is the year of needing new runners. I attempted in vain to buy them at the mall, only to find that the entire experience was worthless. I returned home to sanity and peace and ordered them online. I know. Consumption. People need shoes.

  5. I completely agree, especially with the comment about getting twitchy! I am very overwhelmed and overstimulated by crowds and all the “stuff”. My biggest problem is my kids, the area we live in is very affluent and my youngest son is very into video games. He never wants to have friends over because we don’t own an Xbox and everybody else does. It makes me feel like I am stunting his social life! I wish life were simpler!

  6. I don’t mall shop. Never did. Go to a single store or shop online or catalogue shop.. However If everyone stopped buying people would lose their jobs. It could end up being a catch 22 situation. Merry Christmas everyone.

  7. Brilliant post, thank you! I prefer to stay clear of malls as well but have learnt now to look at all the pretty things and be happy I don’t want to purchase more stuff. I have decided also to try and support small local businesses and if I end up paying a bit extra so be it.

  8. oh i so agree, malls are wastelands. it’s esp sad to see teenagers rooming listlessly and families having ‘dinner’ at the food court. worst thing is that although I do avoid them as much as possible, if I do end up in one, i get sucked in almost immediately, wanting this and that and plotting the fastest way to divert cash towards the new and shiny thing i suddenly must have!

  9. I also get twitchy at the mall but need new clothes! I’m going to brave the post Christmas sales in my attempt to “buy it once and buy it right”, as I’ve wasted too much money on thrift store cast offs, and “bargains”. I want a basic wardrobe of good quality clothes that will last a long time and look good.
    As for Christmas shopping, we only exchange small gifts in our family so that really relieves the pressure. Our $$ get spent visiting each other!

  10. I agree with this completely! I am finding it increasingly difficult to answer the question ‘How do you manage to buy nothing new?’ because it just seems so obvious to me. We are no longer (mostly) slaves to advertising. It’s so freeing!

  11. Pingback: A Different Gift Giving Approach | The Simple Year

  12. I have been thinking about advertising a lot. Like when did we give permission to have our space invaded by it? Why do we actually allow it to be in public spaces, in railway stations, bus shelters, by the side of the road. Why is that allowed. It is propaganda. Not just for the things themselves but for the consumerist , materialistic lifestyle. If this was say political messages we would call it brainwashing. It is a political message. I realised how much it effected me when I went on retreat for two weeks. Everything was provided, no shopping, no buying, no advertising. When I got to the train station at the end of the retreat the adverts were shouting at me. I realised how I had stopped thinking about and wanting stuff while I was away from it. Advertising is having that shouting effect all the time. We just don’t notice any more. But it shows in our behaviour. I want to rescind my permission!!!

  13. Sorry after that rant can I also just say – Cheescake FACTORY? We don’t have that in the UK but do have bagel factory and others similar. Have never understood why anyone would think that having ‘ factory’ in the name of a food shop would make it more appealing. To me it says the opposite of handcrafted, made with care, individual, choice. Yet imagine that the brand would want all those things to be associated with what they do. Go figure!!

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