Tag Archives: Consumerism

May Your Holidays Be Bright!

Geese fly in their famous v-formation against the backdrop of a full moon and the cheerful lights of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

In this season, partly dedicated to consumerism, I’m posting this photograph I took this past January of the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center, one of Kansas City’s notable areas.  

The Country Club Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.  J.C. Nichols, a residential developer of nearby upscale homes, designed the shopping center after European styles, especially those of Seville, Spain.  More than thirty statues, murals, and tile mosaics adorn the Plaza, as well as major architectural reproductions, such as a half-sized Giralda Tower of Seville (the tallest building in the Plaza).

Even though the Country Club Plaza was designed for automobiles, once you arrive you really need to park your car in one of the garages and walk from store to store.  Pedestrians rule on the Plaza.  Thousands of people live in condominiums and apartments nearby, and the Plaza is always teeming with activity.  I drive by a lot, because my mother-in-law lives nearby, and it’s also on the way to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  I’m not a shopper, though, so I seldom join the throngs, except to go to some of the great restaurants.  A quaint restaurant on the Plaza with fantastic vegetarian food is Eden Alley, which is in the lower level of the Unity Temple. It also has a great people-watching patio outside.

The trend in Kansas City now and elsewhere is to look toward another European design, and that’s mixed use –Situating housing areas, restaurants and stores in the same area, so that you can easily walk to a store or restaurant from your home.  

For more information about the Plaza — Country Club Plaza Shopping Center.   Eden Alley Website.

Kansas City Plaza Christmas Lights Under Full Moon print
Kansas City Plaza Christmas Lights Under Full Moon by catherinesherman

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Filed under Art, Kansas City, Life, Personal, Photography, Shopping

Garage Sales

Cleaning out our closets we foudn a lot of great stuff.  Maybe I should give the jeans another chance.

Cleaning out our closets we found a lot of great stuff. Maybe I should try on some of these jeans -- after I haven't eaten for a week.

It’s garage sale season in our part of the world. No matter where you live, I highly recommend going through your closets and basement and setting up shop with what you find. You’ll learn a lot. 

About every five years, my friend Joy and I combine our sale items in her garage or mine. We recycle a lot of great stuff for low, low prices, including toys our kids thought they couldn’t live without like a barely used Xbox game. We never make much money but we have a good time. I’m not a big schmoozer, but I really enjoy the people who shop in my garage. I love to listen to their new uses for my treasures. We hear stories of why they are buying or who will get the items — college dorm, a son’s new home, daughter’s dining room, games to occupy visiting grandchildren, clothes for work and play.

This year my daughter was a big help.  She was motivated to prune her possessions as she prepares to move to California. One of the sad things was seeing all of her no-longer-wanted stuffed animals.  Where did those all come from? And where did my little girl go?

This year, it was so chilly and wet in early May when we had our sale that we almost cancelled. Even the blob in the lava lamp (for sale — only three dollars!) barely bubbled after a couple of hours of warm-up. Traffic was slow at first. We seriously thought of closing down, but we persevered. Joy jammed a new sale sign — bright green neon — in the wet earth on the corner. That brought a flood of customers.

Sandy, a great friend, brought a great, rich cinnamon cake, which lifted our spirits….The hungry teenaged sons of one of our shoppers wanted to buy some of the cake, but Joy offered slices to them for free. Their embarrassed mother added a dollar to the money she paid for her purchases. We tried to give it back.  Really, after a while it seemed ridiculous to charge for stuff we didn’t want any more.  Here, just take this stuff.  Enjoy!  But giving away stuff isn’t easy, as we found out.  People don’t like free, they want to pay at least a dime.

It may be tarnished, but this heart touched my heart when a customer told a touching story.

It may be tarnished, but this heart touched my heart when a customer told a touching story.

We learned:

•Ten cents is more attractive than free. When no one would take a free push broom, Joy put ten cents on it. The next person bought it. Maybe people think free means worthless, but I think people want to pay something.

•People can show you the value of your own discards. A woman holding my small heart box (only a dollar!) told us how a friend had given her a heart box full of heart-warming sayings that she could use whenever she needed one. Of course, I couldn’t sell our heart box after she told me that!

•People will buy items they don’t have any use for if the price is low enough. We sold a marble clock that told the time around the world.

“I don’t know what I need this for,” the buyer laughed. “I never leave Kansas City.”

I warned him that the batteries only lasted about a month. He didn’t care.

•Some people insist on paying full price. Others want a discount no matter how cheap the item is. Still, everyone was gracious and polite, even the hagglers.

•Most importantly, we learned how lucky we are. Near the end of the sale, a woman was looking through a rack of clothing, mostly my daughter’s. She held a pair of jeans to her hips and laughed.

“I know these aren’t my size,” she said in an accent I couldn’t quite place. “They are for my sister. She’s skinnier.”

She brought her choices to the card table, our command post.

“You’re so nice to buy for your sister,” Joy said.

Going, going, gone!  Don't look too closely. You mgiht see some cat hairs.

Going, going, gone! Don't look too closely. You might see some cat hairs.

“She’s lives in Ukraine. It’s hard there. I can’t buy from a store, but I can buy here,” she said. “Now I have five minutes to get back to work!”

I’m glad we stayed open. Sure, we like getting a little money for our decorating detritus, fashion faux pas and bikes ridden only a few times. But what we learned — or re-learned — was priceless.

Lately, a lot of people have been grumbling in our local newspaper about how cheap people are who shop at garage sales, but Joy and I have learned how generous they are — and how grateful we are for what we have.  I know that in the real world of everyday retail, there are a lot of grumpy and whiney people, but luckily so far they haven’t shown up in my garage.

A shorter version of this post was published in the Kansas City Star on May 27, 2009. 

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Filed under Friendship, Kansas City, Life, Personal, Shopping

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

What economic meltdown?  What 700-billion-dollar bailout? Forget about it!   These music videos about money will make your worries disappear!

 Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey sing “Money” from “Cabaret.”

Here’s ABBA singing “Money, Money, Money.”

The Beatles sing “Money.”

Pink Floyd performs “Money.”

Weird Al covers Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.”

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Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Life, Money, Movies, Music, Random, Uncategorized