Department stores in various pockets of the country are slowly opening their doors to a public eager to regain some sense of normalcy, but what they are discovering is that, like many things, shopping as we once knew it is no longer.
The New York Times reports that while some stores are back in business, the actual experience of shopping is now a clinical, cautious, and wildly different affair. Department stores in states like Texas opened to the public for the first time in at least a month on Friday, having added hand sanitizing stations and signs encouraging social distancing measures, presumably to make the experience safer. Still, shopping in a store now is not going to be like it was a few months ago, and those determined enough to touch a bunch of shit that strangers have already previously touched will find that the practice falls flat. But that hasn’t stopped intrepid shoppers like Delia Hickman, a fashion blogger, who simply could not wait to get back to Saks! The Times interviewed her briefly about her motivations, and even though shopping at a store isn’t possible right now, it’s nice to live vicariously through this woman’s experience.
From the Times:
What was the atmosphere like inside the store?
It was like watching people be reunited after a long time apart. All I could see was employees saying hi and being really excited to be greeting each other. They were coming up to me, too. Everyone was really joyful.
Were you shopping for anything specific?
I went to the Chanel counter — I wanted to get some Chanel eye patches.
The lady there showed me how the eye patches work. She was wearing gloves and a mask. She unlocked the serum, and when I reached out to try some, she said she couldn’t touch me. That was totally fine. I totally respected it. I remembered, Oh yeah, of course. She was wearing glasses, but she showed me the motion of putting it on under her eyes.
No one seemed to be like “get away from me” when I walked next to them. That’s what I’ve encountered at grocery stores.
I’m admittedly envious of the kind of life Hickman might lead that would make going to the Chanel counter of a department store in the middle of a pandemic a priority, but I’m also not quite sold on the idea of shopping yet, regardless of how stores address the necessary changes required to make shopping safe.
The majority of the excitement and thrill of shopping is not necessarily about what you buy, but the experience itself. Sure, Soho on a Saturday morning isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but wandering into a store, touching five items of clothing and leaving empty-handed is probably not in the cards for a very long time.