Retail Therapy And Home Alone

Katie Young
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Wednesday - January 30, 2008
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A pair of gold sandals, a cookbook, a Juicy Couture dress, metallic blue eye shadow and a candle holder. These are all things I’ve purchased while doing a little retail therapy.

If I’m in a bad mood, nothing can lift my spirits like a stop at the mall. Bad day at work? Time to hit the Macy’s shoe department. Tiff with my husband? I know a trip to Nordstrom Rack will do the trick. PMSing? Well, trying on clothes in my bloated state is out of the question, but an hour in Pier 1 should make me feel better.

When the going gets tough, sometimes treating yourself to something special can be just the pick-me-up you need.

According to the online free encyclopedia, Wikipedia, the term “retail therapy” refers to shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition. “Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it’s normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as ‘comfort buys.’”


Wikipedia claims that the term was first used in the 1980s in the Chicago Tribune, where it was written, “We’ve become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy.”

The term has become so popular, there are clothing stores, books and even a band using it as a name. For some women, retail therapy is just in our nature, I think. Maybe it’s just the change of scenery, maybe it’s the idea that we deserve to treat ourselves to something special, or perhaps it’s just taking the focus off the problem and putting it onto the clothing rack for a few moments - whatever the reason, retail therapy is here to stay.

Of course, I don’t always need to purchase something to gain the benefits of retail therapy, I’ve discovered. Sometimes just a few hours at the mall window shopping will make me forget all my woes.

I’m not exactly sure what’s so comforting about this kind of treatment, but some researchers have classified this condition as a type of addiction and a psychological disorder.

Is it unnecessary consumption? In most cases, yes. Is this addiction a problem? I’d say the treatment itself isn’t the danger as much as what’s causing the need for it is. If you have a serious depression and find yourself eager to fill a void in your life by buying out the entire cosmetics section of Neiman Marcus, then I think you might need professional help.

But if the occasional bad day leads to an occasional purchase or two - a purchase that’s within your financial means - then in my opinion, a little retail therapy could be just what the doctor ordered.

Shopping for heirlooms.

Speaking of shopping ... for some reason, my big purchases since I turned 30 have been made largely based on to whom I can pass them on in my old age.

These days I’m beginning to think more in terms of the sentimental value of items that might be cherished by off-spring and future generations to come.

On my 30th birthday I bought a ruby ring, thinking that if I had a daughter one day I could pass on the bobble to her.

I picked nice china to put on our wedding registry not because I had a need for it immediately, but because I thought it would be a special gift I could give to my grandchildren one day.

And as I make these purchases, I’m also thinking of the stories that will go along with these heirlooms when they do eventually get passed on.

I may just be overly sentimental when it comes to things like this, but I can’t help but realize how much more precious these items can be because of the history behind them.


A relaxing evening at home.

Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Pono, the wiener dog, ever just wants the relaxing evening at home I know I crave.

So knowing that I had to be out for almost 15 hours straight last weekend, I thought I’d spend the preceding days tiring Mr. P out so he’d just be begging for some time alone.

I took Mr. P to my husband’s office, to the beach and on long walks around the neighborhood. I played ball with him until Mr. P collapsed in a heap on the floor with his blue ball still lodged in his mouth like a stuffed pig holding an apple.

“That should do it,” I told my husband. “For sure Mr. P is just wishing for a quiet evening in.”

Well, 15 hours later, I returned home to a Mr. P with a wagging tail. He had slept most of the evening on his pillow, but apparently got bored at some point and proceeded to find a secret way into the garbage can in the kitchen, which is already behind a baby-proofed locked cabinet door. The floor was littered with the week’s leftovers and food cartons.

So it seems no matter how hard I work to tire Pono out, he never really wants to be left alone ... or have a relaxing evening at home.

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