Tag Archives: Shopping

Only Child says foul to no toys

tree05The spirit of Christmas has disappeared from some of Canada’s department stores – at least for children. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I walked into the main Sears store in downtown Toronto on Sunday to find their children’s toy section had disappeared. Oh, a few selections of toys were scattered on shelves in the children’s clothing section but Children’s Toys were still listed in their directory posted on each floor by the escalators. Down the street at The Bay, children’s toys are no longer in their posted directory.

Santa’s rolly-polly stomach must be churning at this turn of events. The Grinch must be cheering – if grinches can cheer. Sure, toys are online (and in Sears case in their catalogue) but some of us like to get up close to choose toys for our children, grandchildren and in my case, a friend’s eight-year-old son. And what about the kids themselves? No more checking it out in person. Have we turned so technologically crazy that the personal touch has been booted out into cyberspace? Sure, we have stores such as Toys ‘r’ Us specializing in toys and more power to them. They haven’t forgotten the joys of experiencing toys up close.

When I was a child (back in the grey ages) it gave me great pleasure to look at toys in stores – whether big department stores (then it was Simpson’s and Eaton’s in Toronto) or what we then called “dime stores” such as Woolworth’s and Chainway. Afterwards, I would go to my parents and “Santa” and make my Christmas toy wish known. I usually received one toy that I wanted.

As I’m a former journalist I had to dig further about this toy disappearance. I asked a couple of sales clerks in the Children’s Section in Sears and received two different answers.

The first clerk lied. She pretended that there was a toy section but it was out in the corridor. She belongs out in the corridor at the very least. Clerk No. 2 was honest – she said Sears dropped in-store toys two months ago because children would knock them off the shelves, some were broken, but also in-store sales weren’t doing well, but toys are available at Sears online. I also talked to a lady in management and she said she didn’t know but to check online at www.sears.ca. I did and went to Sears Canada corporate section (see “Sears Canada Reports Third Quarter Results” http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=117881&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1757870&highlight=) and also read a Globe and Mail newspaper story, “How Sears plans to get its mojo back” by Marina Strauss, May 25, 2012, which is about the new Sears Canada President and CEO, Calvin McDonald. Read this story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/how-sears-plans-to-get-its-mojo-back/article4209711/ and decide for yourselves what you think. Among other things, Mr. McDonald planned to have Sears eliminate toys in-store (but not online) and other items not selling well from in-store to try and bring the profits back to Sears. I blame dismal sales partly on not enough advertising – in the past few months Sears flyers have been almost non-existent. News flash! If you don’t tell them, they won’t come.

While I may have to live with the new reality of no toys at these department stores, one thing stands out. If you are going to dump toys from the in-store roster, why do it two months before Christmas?

I won’t be ordering a toy online for my little friend next door. I’m headed for a bricks and mortar store that carries toys. I want to see and feel the toy first before I buy it.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Grinch, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford, Shopping

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