Thursday, January 25, 2007

A little shopping

In the U.S., it seems that every store is always having a sale. Every week, circulars arrive in the newspaper announcing that the best prices and best selection are available NOW or THIS WEEKEND. The word sale really has no meaning at all at home.

There was a time when stores had sales only once or twice a year, to clear out inventory before the new season's selections were unveiled. Shoppers knew that when the end-of-season sale was over, regular prices would be back for quite a while. My mom remembers that time.

That time is now, in Antwerp anyway. By law, stores in Antwerp are only allowed to have sales in January and July. This week, the last full week of January, the 30% off banners have become 50% off, and the 50%s are now 70% off. I hate to buy something just to buy something, but then again there are a ton of great stores and boutiques here, it's a world fashion capital, and if I don't buy something this week, the rest of the time I'm here I'm afraid I'll be kicking myself for paying full price when I coulda shoulda woulda. You have to understand, I can talk myself out of buying pretty much anything.

Even today, when I had time to shop, for just a moment my inclination was to shop for the girls, or read in a cafe, but I finally looked in the mirror and told myself "you are going to shop for YOURSELF today."

I had salivated over any number of boutique windows as we got to know the city, yet when I started out to shop today, there were all kinds of reasons I found not to go in and look. Can't shop in a store called Noblesse. Can't go into Gucci or any of those name brand boutiques. Can't go into a store where there are 3 clothing racks hanging like art exhibits, and a perfectly coiffed mannequin of a saleslady waiting to pounce on my credit card before I have a chance to say whoa.

I finally ended up in a department store called P & C on the Meir shopping street. I had decided to try and find a suit or at least a really nice tailored blazer/jacket, and I am happy to say not only did I find it, I actually took it to the cash register (kassa) and BOUGHT IT--and two coordinating & very very soft turtleneck sweaters to wear with it. The jacket itself is all wool, a nice plaid with lots of different colors so I can wear it with lots of things, and it fits beautifully. I'm glad I bought it, and it was a good price too --a $200+ jacket for under $100.

Tomorrow morning while the girls are in school, I will likely head to another department store called Inno and get a couple of nice outfits for the girls. There are of course amazing boutiques for kids here too, and a number of them have luscious dresses in the windows...but at 200 euro and up for something they might wear twice...think of how many outfits that money would buy.

John has gotten himself a couple of things too, and may splurge on himself tomorrow if he sees anything worthwhile. His favorite purchase is a fleece-lined baseball type cap to keep the rain off his glasses and keep his head warm in this increasingly frigid weather--it was REALLY cold this afternoon!

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