Start Spending Again

Have you heard the song that speaks about starting all over again? It, was sung by the cousin duo Mel and Tim in 1972.

The song states that regardless of the circumstances at hand, they were going to make it.

 The ‘we’re’ in the song is referring to the relationship between the composer and his beloved I can only presume.

So there we were a few weeks ago, trying to become reacquainted with our lost loves. Hair salons and barbershops, convenience stores, the local eatery, and that mom-and-pop shop that has everything you didn’t know you needed, and then, bam! We’re right back at square one, lockdown number 3. The COVID-19 pandemic has played with our thoughts, emotions, and physical well-being.

Now, it has forced us to retail relationship counseling of sorts and, I hope when this session is over, we are all the better for it. As the stores and malls that have survived the viral furlough begin to reopen, again, I find the question of, ‘do I need you’ now popping up. I’m not talking about the COVID love found during the past fourteen months, but our relationships with the retailers that desperately need our patronage renewed afresh.

Online shopping is nothing new, and in normal times, it provides a balance of service utilization. These times however are not normal. So we went from the occasional slice of cheesecake to placing our lawn chair in the parking lot in front of the Cheesecake factory at Yorkdale mall. Although convenient and nice, these online shopping habits are slowly ruining our shopping appetites by eroding our relationships with our local retailers and affecting our overall health at the same time!

Edna and Bob who own the bakery on the corner, that takes the time to find out how you’re doing, and if your new puppy is still afraid of the vacuum, have not only created a transactional relationship with you but a relational one too. Yes, them giving your kids a free apple tart every Saturday is a result of your support however, it is also due to the friendship you formed, which has created memories in the process. They cannot keep the ovens firing and sustain their family without your endorsement. Many other store owners face the threat of losing what in some cases took a generation to build in roughly a year. For some, it took much less. The love and appreciation expressed by our local vendors cannot and will not be felt from the big box stores. The quest to meet the deliverables of the day, which enrich share-holders does not afford the ‘white glove’ personal touch many of our smaller businesses are known for. Concerning our health, whether it was Edna and Bob’s bakery, the designer clothing boutique, or Ginos Pizzeria. When you made your way to these community gems, chances are, you were using the limbs that God gave you. Once I was looking for a pair of deck shoes for a summer party, and decided to search for them in and around the Eaton Center. I’m sure I walked a 10k marathon looking for those stylish foot covers. Let’s not forget our disabled and elderly communities, using canes, wheelchairs, and mobility devices. They too miss the physical and mental exercise commuting from store to store provided.

Working in the downtown core, it was not uncommon to spend $8 – $12 on my morning sustenance before the thought of lunch appeared. Walking through Bay/Bloor village, The Eaton Center, or any of the many chain-of-stores the downtown core provides, allowed us to purchase those shoes on sale or that blouse you’ve been hunting. Retail walks were not just needed but almost therapeutic. Didn’t make your numbers this month, take the walk. Boss just chewed you out, take the walk. Find out your lady has racked up $1400 on your Amex.. take-the-walk! Hopefully, I.. you, can return some of those ‘feel good’ purchases. Unless you are currently down-on-your-luck, shopping is an essential part of our lives, and necessary not only for the economy but our happiness as well, in my opinion.

 I said that to say this, start spending again!

I’m not saying blow all your savings from the last baker’s dozen or so of months of;  no to less, transit travel and car commutes, which includes fares, gas and parking, and all those meals and beverages intertwined with those days.

 I am saying however, to do a little something that will make you feel better. That blue blazer may not be required anymore, but a polo shirt is always in season. Ladies, I don’t have any recommendations here for you out of wisdom because you always know what to do!

 With the new stressors we have found and endured, from wearing one tracksuit all week, adjusting to ever-present partners / children, temperamental internet connections, bad eating habits and irregular shower patterns (don’t judge me), the list goes on and on. The least we can do is to treat ourselves to feel better. The bonus in all this, it also helps some of our beloved small shops survive. So please don’t think this is just about the retailers it is about our well-being too.

 Honestly, I’m not thrilled that this stupid pandemic has forced me to buy a new pants size, however, I need to find something that doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing tights. Do men’s pants come with spandex waists? Somebody, please let me know (Discreetly of course).

So whether it’s for bubble tea and egg waffles or new luggage for that pending getaway (Please God), please make a local purchase (if feasible) and your mental health will be all the better for it.

 Hope to see you out there (when stage 3 is over)!

 Oh, and please don’t forget your mask and manners.



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