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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Decluttering Your Inbox and Minimizing Shopping

Ah, the olden days: when you went shopping (with your mother or your girlfriends) a few time a year. The rich girls went at the beginning of the season. Most of us went at or near the end, so we could get things on sale. For blackbelt shoppers like my parents, there were also perhaps two trips a year to Orchard Street in New York City, noted for its discounts. The tiny shops had mean owners, who would badmouth the customers in Yiddish (my mother--a German speaker in childhood--could translate the insults.) We were once kicked out of a shop for not buying anything quickly enough! The abuse was part of the experience. And, of course, we would get a sandwich after the ordeal at the famous Katz's deli. which had--and still has as it happens--salamis hanging from the ceiling emblazoned with streamers:"Send a salami to your boy in the army."

In the old days, shopping was contained! Then came catalogs, some of which presented pastoral worlds where everything matched or everything was eccentric. At least you could throw them out after mooning through them.

But now! I hardly need to tell you that in internet has broken all boundaries. So even if you never set foot in a physical store, you can shop all the time. And--if you ever recklessly sign up for email so you can get free shipping or a discount--well, your inbox will be full of offers.

I recently realized that I seldom set foot in a store these days, with the exception of thrift shops. But I--perhaps from those Orchard Street days--am hardwired to check out the bargains. So I have removed myself from almost all email lists: good-bye J Jill, Gumps, Banana Republic, Pier 1, and the rest.

The only ones that remain are LL Bean and Garnet Hill. I shop at those stores now and then because of their unconditional guarantee.

This boundary-violating is a real problem. I find myself answering desperate emails from students on weekends. This weekend, for instance, one student asked me when the paper was due. UHHHH, look at the syllabus, which is on-line. I don't mind responding to student requests on weekends (although I often refer them to the syllabus!), because then I don't face a crew of students on Monday having major meltdowns.

But honestly, I already have too much stuff. And, as we learned in the olden days on Orchard Street, even if you miss a bargain--or even if you get kicked out of the store--there's always one next time!

Have you decluttered your inbox? What's left?


Patience_Crabstick said...

I keep one email account that I used exclusively when I shop online, so the offers don't clutter my personal email or my work email. I go into it once a day and delete about thirty messages about sales or other offers. I hardly ever follow the email and start shopping.
A colleague at work has all those offers sent to her work email--very unprofessional in my opinion, especially when you're the presenter at a meeting and your Outlook keeps popping up little distracting notices about offers from Pier One or Living Social Deals. Plus, she's always complaining about her inbox runs out of space.

Duchesse said...

I remember catalogs from the time I could read- in fact it's one of my earliest reading experiences. I still enjoy them, more than online sites.

Amazed that students expect a response on weekends. I see your dilemma, but wonder if giving it to them only reinforces that behaviour. (A colleague of mine always said, "What you permit you promote".) What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I am on a few mailing lists, but the first thing I do every morning when I read my personal e-mail, which I keep separate from school e-mail, is to delete all the offers. I've signed up for a few this year because of the window shopping project.

Shelley said...

I'm not really on any mailing lists for clothes are department stores. "The abuse was part of the experience" made me laugh! I wonder if that's why you still consider buying from Chico's these days after describing their horrific customer non-service.

Frugal Scholar said...

@PC--I did the same, but I still have to delete all the junk!

@Duchesse--Oh, I love catalogues--like going into a different world.

@Terri--i tend to be easily distracted unfortunately.

@Shelley--Oh, the Chico's abuse--more like incompetence--was as nothing to getting yelled at by the shopkeepers!