Only Child does Retail Therapy

Only Child wearing the old now tattered jeans - obviously when jeans saw better days.

Retail therapy is good for you. It can increase your life span according to a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Maybe my mother was on to something with our frequent shopping adventures to the department stores in downtown Toronto and the shops on the Danforth. As I write in my memoir:

The 1950s and early 1960s were the heydays of the big department stores – the Simpson’s and three Eaton’s stores downtown. The latter stores originated with a small Toronto shop, which Timothy Eaton opened at Queen and Yonge St. in 1869, and replaced with the four-storey flagship Eaton’s in 1883.  In 1930, The ritzy Eaton’s College St. Store opened at College St. and Yonge St. [See “Eaton’s” and “The Carlu” on Wikipedia.]  Mom turned up her country nose at it and steered me towards its opposite, The Eaton’s Annex, Albert St. Did Mom gravitate towards this store because its three storeys and basement sat on a downtown street carrying Dad’s name? Or was it the anticipation and joy of flipping through clothes and shoes stacked on tables in the basement and if you were lucky, you’d find a bargain that you weren’t embarrassed to wear?

More than the clothes and shoes, I remember the soft ice cream, the elevators and the escalators.

“Hold onto the railing, Sharon,” Mom says as we stand at the top of one of these escalators.

 As I dig my hand into the railing and look down at the ridges before me, I hesitate, then gingerly place toes, then the rest of my feet on the escalator floor. I expect the floor to change to steps, like those at the main Eaton’s store, but it remains a series of slabs rudely jutting out. Riding up makes me feel as if I’m on a conveyor belt in a factory assembly line; riding down is akin to standing on the poor person’s roller coaster without the safety bar across your front.

The elevators, off in their own hallway, are an earlier version of panoramic elevators, except the view is inside the shaft while you wait outside the glass door for the elevator’s arrival. I close my eyes, hang on tight to Mom’s hand and try not to think of freefalls.

But we arrive safely back in the basement or “subway” as Eaton’s calls it. I know that I deserve the soft white ice cream whirled into a cone sold at a stand near the underground walk to the main Eaton’s Store. I also deserve the hot dog sold there.

(Excerpt from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford)

The study, mentioned above, showed that among older Taiwanese people, at least twice weekly shopping could raise life expectancy an average of 27 per cent. Surprisingly, men engaged in retail therapy more than women. Researchers believed it was not all about the buying but companionship and exercise could be factors.

Not for me. I wanted to buy. However, I had two items in mind – a new mini stereo system to replace the dud that died in January after just over two years of “service,” and a pair of “good jeans” to replace the pair  now sporting rips and holes. True, I was thinking of my Mom’s and my trips downtown as I rode the streetcar there and walked through the Eaton Centre (definitely not there back in the day). But successfully purchasing the two items needed without hitting more than one store (Sears, if you want to know. I didn’t even enter The Bay which now sits on the old Simpson’s store). Even the sprinkling of rain on the way home didn’t dampen the expedition. I just opened my umbrella and held it over the box containing the stereo.

So, can retail therapy help? Maybe as long as you don’t play shopaholic. The life expectancy criteria is still off the table for me – I’m not quite as old as the study’s participants…yet. But it sure lifted my mood.

Check out these websites for a couple of retail therapy studies.

Shopping and Retail Therapy Makes You Live Longer – Totally Living http://www.totallyliving.co.uk/health/2011/04/08/retail-therapy-raises-life-expectancy

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health http://jech.bmj.com/ (to search for article on the above)

Retail Therapy Effective at Improving Mood http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/retail-therapy-mood_n_882062.html

Your thoughts on Retail Therapy?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Eaton's, Mother, Only child memoir, Retail therapy, Sears, Sharon Crawford, Shopping, Simpson's

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