While standing in line today as our local bedding and household store finished its final day of trading before closing down, I had a lot of time to think. Being a devout bargain shopper, I was thrilled to score some seriously cheap goodies, but even as I gloated over the absurd discounts on the items I purchased, it all rang rather hollow; faltering retail is for sure a sign of the tough times ahead, and we would be foolish and naive not to acknowledge it as a worrying marker of what may be ahead.
But among the sobering thoughts, there were some interesting observations to made, as well.
Although the store itself was stripped nearly bare with only the most meagre selection of items remaining, it was packed. Each of the 5 lines had at least 10 people waiting to check out, and most of those people had carts piled high with bedding, curtains, small appliances and furniture, taking advantage of the 90% reductions on everything that was left before they closed their doors for good. Even the fixtures and fittings were for sale.
Point #1: If it's cheap enough, people will buy it.
The lines were long but, despite restless kids, awkward navigating through the strewn merchandise, bits of merchandise and trash everywhere, I didn't hear a single cross word. In fact, people were TALKING to each other - really talking. Watching each other's kids, helping each other manoeuvre the carts through the chicanes of stuff, pointing out items that might interest the person standing next to them, and generally interacting in a way one selom sees.
Point #2: people seem to be trying to connect with each other more, being less insular, more open and more friendly.
Given recent gloominess and insularity, it was nice to see. Here's hoping that's the good sign of the times.