I wonder what American homes will look like in 10 years. Just about every purchased object in existence has built in obsolescence. Our electronics, homes, infrastructure, clothing and personal items are built shoddily, produced for quick profit. We have become a disposable nation, tossing items into the trash after a few years. Zombie-like, we push our oversized shopping carts, grabbing bulk products at wholesale clubs. After the foray, we plop onto the couch with two gallon containers of ice-cream, while grabbing a credit card to purchase a pair of gaudy Joan River earrings with an ‘Easy Pay Offer’ on QVC.
There are many reasons for this with stagnating wages since the late 80s and the Great Recession of 2008 being main factors. But mainly, we are a nation of consumers who are spiritually and materially fulfilled with newly purchased items bought with plastic. Fast forward…these items are then tossed onto a heap.
My prediction is that America’s deification of ‘cheap’ won’t disappear anytime soon. We need to learn to make do with less and be cognizant of what we are buying, much like a diet. Do we really need more and more stuff to make us happy?
In the meantime, while I pontificate, do pay a visit to a chain store which has been proliferating across the USA faster than the Human papillomavirus, The Dollar Tree. This aptly named store has attracted quite a following. For years, I rolled my eyes and viewed it as anathema in the retail world, where stores are barely surviving and cost cutting measures are their only resort to remain competitive.
The only way I would shop there is if you rolled me kicking and screaming against my will. However, this past Saturday I had a conversation on the topic with my college friend, Flossy.
Flossy: Let’s go buy some July the 4th party items.
Me: Where? The Party Store?
Flossy: No, THE DOLLAR STORE.
Me: Ugh, what? No! Gross! I was there once years ago and wanted to gag. The name alone makes me cringe. And don’t get me started about the logo design with ugly all-capped font with dollar green back drop. How original. It looks like it was designed by a retiree who finished a Graphic Design 101 Continuing Ed program.
Flossy: Look Miss-Judgey-Pants, you can find good things there and it is affordable. People are struggling financially and these stores are a sign of the economic times. Get over it.
Me: It isn’t just a sign of the times. It is expected. What was once a tacit purchase is now proudly boasted. Buying something for nothing makes me sad.
Flossy: Look, we can have some fun, ok? Let’s get dressed up in funny outfits and see who stares at us. Don’t make this experience into another one of your pedantic soap box rants!
Me: Fine. I am sensing a ‘cheap-goes-chic’ look happening. I am going to wear pink foam curlers, rhinestone chandelier earrings, polka dot polyester top, Juicy Couture track pants, Greenology socks with embroidered pandas eating bamboo and Hogan polka dot sneakers to match my top. What are you going to wear?
Hate to admit, but Dollar Store shopping is FUN. While I won’t be a convert, I understand the seduction of buying 3 bagfuls of household and party items for less than $20.
But I also understand that this country can’t continue down this course, where people feel they need to buy cheap because they are struggling to afford the basics in life. Maybe it won’t be long before we all simplify our lives, where we buy things locally, consume less and stop staring into our phones.
I wish my Utopian world existed today, but it won’t, so instead I will gear up for July the 4th, stop complaining for now, and be grateful for my amazing friends and the good ol’ USA!
One last thing. Just in case you were wondering what my favorite purchases were at The Dollar Tree, I will clue you in. After Flossy and I left with 3 bags of goods, she took out my curlers and we hit a local bar for sangria and watch people scream at flat screen tv’s on account of the World Cup.