A Trip to The Mall

image courtesy of KLCC1 via sxc.hu
What do you think about going to the mall, or shopping in general?  Do you enjoy just wandering and looking at what is available, or would you rather get what you need and leave as quickly as possible?  

Early on in our marriage, Joanna and I defined what we meant by shopping.  We realized that we had vastly different perspectives.  So we started using two terms that we still go by:  shopping is going out and looking at what’s in stores and maybe buying something, whereas purchasing is going in a store to buy something and getting out ASAP.  I am amazed how she can spend so much time looking before buying; she’s amazed that I can go to 5 or 6 stores and get back home within two hours, even with one or more of our kids in tow.

Normally, we tend to think that men prefer to purchase, and women prefer to shop, and this stereotype is usually true.  But recently my friend Kelley Smith was proud to have gone to the mall, walk into The Gap, pick up 3 pairs of jeans at the register (she emailed the store to hold some jeans that she loves), pay, and walk out.  She was out of the mall in less than 10 minutes.  On a Saturday.  In the afternoon.  Two weeks before Christmas.

Well, recently I took a trip to the mall just to observe, like a mini sociology experiment.  Who was there?  What were they doing?  Why did they buy certain things?  Here’s some of my observations: 
  • Seemed like most people were wanderers, strolling around and enjoying the atmosphere and experience.
  • High percentage were women.  Lots of young kids with moms, or with grandparents.
  • Colors:  Lots of red (which made sense at Christmas time). Boys’ clothing was dark and deep in color; girls’ was bright and light-colored.  Adult clothing seemed to have a lot of gray; (during our worship service this other week, I remarked to Joanna how about half of the people on stage were wearing gray).
  • What drew people in to stores:  free samples (lotion, candy, etc), big sales, and cheap knick-knacks at the register to entice people (“Here’s a sample pack of things that won’t be available until next month, and you can have it now for just $5).
In the next post, I’ll talk more about some of these observations, and how it relates to parenting.  But I’m curious – are you more of a shopper (like my wife) or a purchaser (like me)?


  1. PURCHASER! Shopping stresses me out. Too many choices. I just like to get in, get what I need and get out. Unless I see something else I "need" while I'm there and then I purchase that too. I can't stand just looking and not buying things. What's the point??

  2. "like" this post! thanks for the shout out!
    i like to purchase while shopping. i won't just go to the mall to kill time. when i go, and it's often, it's to purchase something for myself, family or a client. i ABHOR window shopping or going to a retail establishment when i have no money to purchase anything. i'd rather pull my toe nails out one-by-one.

  3. Zach and I had to define what we mean by shopping also. We chose the terms "hunting" or "gathering" early in our marriage. As you may guess, Zach is the hunter who knows exactly what he is after, captures it, and heads straight home, and I am the gatherer who wanders around for hours seeing if anything catches my eye. Same concept as shopping and purchasing, just different terms to describe it.

  4. Vanessa -- I love those terms. I'm going to view Zach with a whole new perspective now.

  5. I like to purchase, but end up shopping for sometimes DAYS to make sure my purchase is the best deal. This process makes me hate both shopping and purchasing because i am worn out. But 2010 has made us learn that if it's in our price range, it's "good enough" and to stop wasting time exhausting all options.

  6. I agree with Molly and Kelley. I like to browse around to get the best deal, but I won't go shopping if I don't have some money to spend. Torture! Even online shopping is sometimes exhausting because I have to check the coupon sites, shopzilla, the shipping to package ratio, etc. Good post!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com