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|To Buy or Not To Buy - Page 5|
Over the years, the level of service—and of personal care and attention—remained constant, even as my shopping needs changed: first one baby, then two, then an economic downturn. I'd stop in at Charivari not so much to buy—with the kids, I'd turned to simpler clothing—as to look and chat. And through everything, like the good mother who lovingly en-courages her child's exploration outside the home, the staff took no less interest in the choices I'd made beyond their doors.
So when, after 24 years on the block, my store finally closed, I was sad but ready to part. While I'd miss shopping and talking with my Charivari mothers, I keep with me wonderful memories of bounding home, feeling safe and cared-for, whether or not I had a garment bag in hand. Shopping there had done its healing.
This story, like all the shopping stories I know, reminds me how basic the process is. Infants, after all—like the shoppers they'll become—explore and connect. From the first days and weeks of life, they shake bells or rattles and create sounds. They're exploring and thereby gaining a feeling of aliveness and competence—just as Tom does with his jacket.
The parallel also holds for connection. When infants engage with objects in the presence of a loving caretaker, their exploration becomes a kind of play, advancing the cause of intimacy. That's how it worked for me with Charivari, and how I hear it working in the shopping stories of others.
Shopping behavior, then, is close to the bone. It evolves from our earliest impulses to move out and see what the world has to offer us. And it stays with us, a playful seesaw between autonomy and self-direction on one end, and interaction and interdependency on the other.