As I'm getting ready to shop for my kid's back to school stuff I remembered a topic that I had wanted to discuss about my summer vacation - shopping! Now, I don't love shopping, but as with most women, I do like it. I don't often get to do it much for myself and this time I got to do some of it with my mom during our vacation, which was nice. She's not much of a shopper either, but all women get girlie about clothes at least some of the time. My mom wanted to get a Coach bag as we were driving down to South Carolina. So we decided to make that a stop on our 8 hour long trek. Tangiers Outlets has a Coach bag store and we could let the kids run around a little bit as she searched for a new purse. We did our shopping, my mom bought a bag, I bought sketchers light-up sneakers for both my girls at the shoe store (the little one will barely even put the dang things on! $25 AND SHE WON'T WEAR THEM!!!…sigh….just breathe mama…in…out….).
When we got to Conway, SC for our break, we saw that the outlet near Myrtle Beach had a Coach bag store too. We never even noticed that the outlet mall in that area was a Tangiers outlet mall as well. Same stores, same everything. We didn't even have to stop in North Carolina. Oh well… So when we went shopping in Hilton Head, SC a few days later, the outlet mall was -- you guessed it -- a Tangiers Outlet Mall. Not just some of the same stores, THE EXACT SAME ONES. And more importantly, they were stores that I can easily find down the street from my house. The same goes for the restaurants, grocery stores (walmart anyone), convinience stores…everything!
What happened to regionality?! What happened to the uniqueness of each town or area; things and places that are unique to that spot?! This is a phenomenon I began to observe around ten years ago when I began touring Europe. In the beginning there were all sorts of funky spaces to find clothes and trinkets and food you could not find anywhere else: chocolate balls in Sweden and Iceland, fashion designers in Amsterdam and Switzerland, glasses and accessories in Camden Town in London. But as I toured more and more, I noticed how H&M had started ruling the European world and things began feeling homogenized. This is the way it is in America. You never have to leave your comfort zone. You never actually have to experience local color and products because not only do you have the same fast food restaurants, but the same casual dining i.e. Ruby Tuesdays, Applebees, Bonefish Grill, Carrabas; the same shopping - Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Marshalls, Old Navy; the same EVERYTHING! You have to really look hard to find difference and local interest. It is the same in local malls, which all carry the exact same stores; they don't even really vary by economic strata that much. The shopping areas all boast a Target or Walmart, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond and an HH Gregg or Best Buy.
I'm all for jobs and corporations making money, but I'm getting sick of having the same options EVERYWHERE I GO! We humans are not built for this. Our whole American system of government is designed to take advantage of the different needs and strategies of the states while the federal government just sets up basic parameters. Is 16 oz pack of $1.98 strawberries worth the destruction of uniqueness and individuality….wait. $1.98?! THat's cheap as hell! Maybe I need to shop…at…Walmart….trying to stick to my principles…having difficulty because of absurdly cheap prices….can't hold on…..buying cheap strawberries….dang it.
What are the interesting places and unique things that you have seen in America? Do you think that regional sameness is an issue or does it even bother you?