Monday, December 1, 2008

The Comforts of Home Shopping

As I sat on the sofa in our basement listening to the Domino’s delivery guy ring the doorbell, exhausted from my Black Friday online shopping spree and ready for something --- anything --- to eat that didn’t come with gravy, I found myself wondering how on earth I got to this point. And why wasn’t anyone answering the door for Pete’s sake?

I quickly placed blame on a man named Aaron. Yep, Aaron Montgomery Ward, and his stroke of mail-order genius, has made me into the woman I am today.

It all began with the Montgomery Ward Catalog, which first brought the department store to the home over 130 years ago. How excited Ma must have been the day that first Shoppers' Bible arrived. Throwing the kids into the back of the wagon (horse-drawn, not station) and driving into town to check out the newest in fashion and home appliances (hand-cranked, not electric) was no longer necessary. Waiting 10 or 12 years for the hip east coast styles to hit the Midwest was a thing of the past, for with Ward’s giant leap in marketing, the only limiting factor in having the latest and greatest in all things retail was the Pony Express.

Sears and Spiegel soon followed, and before we knew it, we were inundated with pages upon slick pages of items we needed to make our home run efficiently and never look anything less than beach sexy.

By the early 1990’s, retailers had re-defined shopping to be a rainy day on the couch with a stack of catalogs, the telephone, and a major credit card. But for some, turning hundreds of pages from dozens of stores each day had grown tiring… and lonely. And that is when God invented QVC.

QVC gave women that one piece they were missing all those days alone in the living room with nothing but a leftover bottle of cabernet for company --- shopping buddies. With QVC we could still sit on the sofa, never fight the elements (save for a hot flash or two) or the crowds (unless we were put on hold for the next available customer service agent), and never be alone. Our new BFF’s were on TV, telling us why we should buy the appliquéd tunic or massaging slippers, and how the way we prepared meals would be forever changed with three E-Z payments and one little product.

Obviously QVC and her little sister, the infomercial, had their flaws though. Namely, either you had to record an entire day’s worth of sales on your VCR (like my roommate’s mom) or stay within eyeshot of the TV the entire day (like mine).

Fortunately Al Gore and his Internet were not far behind. I suppose Al Gore is the reason I will never awake at 4:00 in the morning on Black Friday to hit the mall, still digesting my 600-calorie slice of pecan pie from the night before. Never again will I stand in a department store line, gagging on the stench of ashtray and B.O. that mysteriously wafts through the air on that day. Now I can roll out of bed anytime I choose, pour a cup of coffee and finish shopping well before I decide it’s time to brush my teeth and put on a bra.

Which brings me back to Black Friday 2008. Just when I thought Mr. Ward’s monster had reached its peak, shopping from the comfort of my home in the most high-tech way possible, I saw an ad on TV for Domino’s Pizza. Suddenly the little TiVo guy popped up in the corner telling me all I had to do was push the green button, and they would deliver to my door. No catalogs, no phone calls, not even a trip to the PC. Just a push of the button on the remote control already cradled in my hand.

Thirty minutes later the doorbell was ringing, and I was still in the basement on the sofa watching the very show that had summoned three medium pizzas and a side of Cinna Stix to our home. He rang the bell again, which gave me an idea.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and called our home line. My second-grader answered and was more than willing to retrieve our dinner. I wish I could have seen the look on the guy’s face when a seven-year-old boy, apparently with TiVo and a major credit card, came to the door.

(sigh) But that would have required effort.

(dedicated to A.M. Ward and my mother, Queen of QVC)


Morgan the (Almost) Muse said...

Sounds lovely. I guess I am stuck in the last century though, I go to Wal Mart and buy my gifts. :S But that is because I am too in the midwest, and pretty much isolated from the world. So if you do not want a puzzle or a book, or osmething more special than that, tough! :D

Adlibby said...

I can't get past the fact that you were tired of gravy by Friday. Really?!!! But hurray internet shopping. I wouldn't leave my house on Black Friday if everything in the stores was FREE. I can't take the crowds and the mass hysteria.

Adlibby said...

Hey Jules -- I really enjoy your blog and I just gave you an award. Go pick it up, and do with it what you will. =)

That damn expat said...

I LOVE internet shopping. As a matter of fact I wrote a whole post about it.
Thanks for following my blog, I'll be back here.