Shopaholic in Denial

by Abby on June 24, 2011

ShopaholicIt was a funny coincidence that I read this post about a fellow blogger reigning in her shopping habit hours after I got home from the mall. First, though, you should know that I RARELY go to the mall. When I do, it’s usually to visit the kids’ play area, grab lunch at the food court, and browse the sale racks at Gymboree, Baby Gap, and Janie & Jack if my kids’ patience holds up. I would love to say that I can’t relate to shopaholics and have never indulged in retail therapy in my life.

But that day I found myself at the mall with an hour before I had to pick up my kids. I walked through the glass doors, unencumbered by a stroller or overstuffed diaper bag. The first thing I noticed was how good it smelled. I inhaled deeply. Ahhhh! What IS that citrusy, vanilla-y, floral-y scent of heaven?! Let me tell you, people. Marshall’s does not smell like that.

And the pretzels. My sons actually associate the smell of Auntie Anne’s pretzels with shopping. “Did you go to the mall, Mom?” my 5yo says, sniffing my clothes and eyeing my lemonade cup suspiciously.

The next thing I noticed was how clean and quiet everything was. The mall on a Tuesday morning is NOTHING like the teenager-clogged hell it is on a Saturday afternoon. Everything was sunlit and sparkling. Colorful displays of summer clothes filled the store windows, begging me to come in and browse. And who could pass up 50% at Banana Republic? WHO?!

I believe I am a shopaholic in denial. I really do. Even though I have never had a gold card. I have never bought a purse costing more than the mid-two-digits. I won’t even set foot in Tiffany’s. (I’m serious. I won’t. They were having a store opening once with champagne and stuff and my friend wanted to go in. Did she never SEE that scene in “Pretty Woman”?!)

I was raised on TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory. My mom and I would make pilgrimages to the outlets and the May Coat Company in New Haven, CT. She was the one who taught me about designer labels and jacket linings and selvedges or whatever the clues were that a piece of clothing was well-made. If you met us, you would be shocked. Most times we dress in rumpled cotton outfits that look like they came off the clearance rack at Putumayo. My mom is famous for carrying canvas tote bags instead of a purse. In fact, I don’t know if she’s ever even owned a leather purse. (Sorry, Mom.)

But I’m getting off track. By giving me a clothing allowance from an early age and teaching me to bargain shop, my parents averted any over-the-top Shopaholic-style designer-fashion binges once I reached adulthood. Even if I could afford it, it would physically sicken me to pay $500 for a handbag or a pair of sunglasses.

At least I say that now. I’m not saying I couldn’t get used to it, eventually. But for $500 I could outfit both boys straight through to next summer, including shoes. So for the time being, I’ll just have to get my retail fix from a couple lipsticks at Sephora and a soft pretzel. I’ll just make sure to hide the evidence better next time.

What about you? Do you shop till you drop, or is there dust on your credit card? And do you ever return from a shopping trip without something for your children?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello June 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I am soooooo happy to say that the lovely Miss Teresa is exactly like you when it comes to shopping. She doesn’t really like to do it and won’t do it unless we go together and we then sorta take care of one another in terms of what we “need” versus what we might “want”!

The other thing that keeps us in control is that we only go to the Outlets and won’t buy anything unless it’s at least 50% off. We rarely get anything for one another for special occasions so we can save our money for really special trips. We like to exchange cards and high five over the money we’re saving.

We went to the Tanger Outlets in Charleston last Christmas and found so many bargains marked 70% off that we did buy some things for one another. Love getting the receipt that shows how much you saved, WOW. We actually went into one store, took a quick look and saw that stuff was only 50% off and we looked at one another and said “we’re outa here”. Boy, that was strange.

Any way, now we can afford the 25th Anniversary cruise next May with Celebrity…we will pamper ourselves and spend money on good wine, good food and gifts. Everyone knows that it’s not real money on a vacation, right?!


Abby June 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I love that 50% was not cheap enough for you. 🙂 And you make an excellent point, one that my parents always emphasized: experiences are so much more valuable than possessions. Have a wonderful time on your cruise!!


Kim June 25, 2011 at 1:28 am

Ugh, the credit card! I shop when my husband is deployed. Not clothes, well some for my girls, but the little things: a Starbucks, fast food for my daughters, Panera for me, a couple of books, a magazine at the grocery store… And then I go online, and find even more stuff, stuff that serves to entertain my girls so I can have a break during the day. But then I look at my credit card bill and see it is more than it should be, because those little things add up.

I put away my credit card awhile back and it was the best therapy ever. I guess i need to do that again! But returning from a shopping trip without a $5 DVD from Target or a $12 pair of princess pajamas is hard to do. And if they are out with me, they WANT to shop. They see the credit card as the only means of paying for something.

This post really hits a strong cord with me if you can’t tell. I hate/love my credit card. Watching that movie months ago gave me the idea of putting my credit card away in the first place, maybe I should go watch it again!


Abby June 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I am the QUEEN of little things, too, Kim. I can’t tell you how many trips to Target we’ve made just to get out of the house when we don’t really need anything. Of course we come back with loads of “bargains” we couldn’t pass up!


Malia Jacobson June 25, 2011 at 1:57 am

I agree, Tuesday mall beats Saturday mall every time. I’m just not a shopper. I’m happy just buying things for the kids. But I’ve recently realized that after a few years on the maternity-weight loss roller coaster I have absolutely no clothes that fit–none. It’s sad when your husband’s polo shirt collection takes up more closet space than your entire wardrobe. I’m with you, I just can’t bring myself to spend tons of money on clothes for myself. Not when I can buy an entire kids’ outfit for $15 at Target. 🙂


Abby June 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I know, but when you DO buy yourself some cute, stylish clothes that actually fit, you feel so much better about how you look. Of course, I’m talking Marshall’s, Kohl’s and Old Navy. Let’s not go crazy here!


Nicole June 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

Not a shopper. Not a shopper at all. I worked so hard to become debt free that even now 4 years later it hurts to waste money.


Abby June 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Good for you, Nicole!!


Angie Mizzell June 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I think it’s great your parents gave you a clothing allowance. I think it teaches you to build a wardrobe over time. I was in the mall with my boys on a recent weekday morning (I was not in a hurry and they were pretty well behaved, knock on wood) and it’s just as you described. I recall standing and looking up, admiring the natural light coming in. I, however, am not a great shopper. Before our Vegas trip, my husband went online and ordered a dress and pair of shoes for me. I still don’t understand how he has better taste and sense of style than most girls I know.


Abby June 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Ha, ha! If he has good taste and is willing, I say let hubs buy your wardrobe for you! My husband has good taste in clothes, too.


Minky July 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I really need to curb my spending. We’ve been with the in laws FAR too long. I never buy the big things, but like you it’s starbucks and the trip to Target just to get out of the house where I end up dropping money that I need to save. But those darn Target sundresses are just so cute. And there’s a starbucks in the store so….it’s a one stop shop!
I want to go to Target now. DAMN! I stink at this. Which is why we are still with the in-laws.


Mrs Ebrahim September 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I think I have shopping bulimia… From the time I moved to Miami in May 2010 until about 4 or 5 months ago, I could easily walk through an entire mall without buying anything, not even a snack. I had self-control and more important things on my mind. Then a few months ago, when the pregnancy weight finally came off, and I began to feel like a woman again, I started shopping like crazy!! (and still am actually).. But the good thing is that I know I will be going back to zero shopping very soon until the next binge (which I predict will be in minimum 2 years)


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