Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Art of Indulgence: A Story on Retail Therapy

I love

chocolate cake

and Target

and a good bookstore

and decent thrift stores

and cheap books

and Amazon

and finding great make-up reviews

What do these all have in common? These are the many excuses reasons that I provide myself whenever I come across something I want need.  When I traveled to Oz, I talked about what it was like diving into the world of adulthood and becoming financially responsible for myself.  I learned how much I loved to work in a job, that well, I loved.  This type of love would provide me with the glorious financial reward of a paycheck.  In turn, that paycheck would be spent at Sephora.  When it wasn't Sephora, it was Forever21 or H&M or Barnes and Noble or my homegirl, Amazon.  Amazon and I have developed a really close bond.  She knows my browsing history.  When in doubt, she sends me an e-mail when it's on sale, because she knows that I want to buy it but that half off price is something I can't say no to.  She knows I love a good deal.  I mean I get Kindle Daily Deals letting me know when the entire set of The Chronicles of Narnia is only $1.99 a book.

The girl is an  e-n-a-b-l-e-r .

But it takes one to know one.  I am upfront about my enabling and indulgence abilities.  Like a high school girl twirling a strand of hair around her finger, I am like really good at it.  I don't need a 12-step process, I openly declare it to the world.  When shopping with me, I straight up say, "just so you know, I am an enabler."  This means if you want me to say no, I will say no... but girrrrl (include dramatic hand gesture), that shade of lipstick over there (switches hand gesture from left to right) would look really good on you.

I have learned over the years that certain places are kind of my danger hot spots.  These are places that I will, without a doubt, spend money at because my list of pros vs. cons usually leans toward you really need this in your life.  Hobby Lobby or any craft store is a notorious enabler to said habits.  You can't blame me though.  It's a craft store that also sells home decor.  Plus there is always a sale.  It's like they want my house to look amazing.  You can easily kill hours at Hobby Lobby.  It also doesn't help that the one pin you pinned has some of those crafting supplies right in front of you, plus that one blogger made it look so easy.  $50 later and you've got a new crafting project.

Another place that I adamantly have to stay away from is Target.  T-a-r-j-a-y has seriously upped its cool factor.  No matter what the layout is, usually accessories and women's clothing is one of the first stops.  They have such cute clothes! But like Forever21, the material is clearly spun through the power of make-believe because it is the sheerest, cheapest fabric to the point that it's difficult to believe its existence.  Ain't nobody got time to spend $20+ on something that looks like it's about to fall apart at the outburst of a sneeze.  Sidebar: My rule of thumb for Forever21 is that if it's over $20, I'm not buying it.  However, I'm all about the clearance rack or finding that at the end of the aisles are more sale items! I usually make a beeline for the books/DVDs section.  Rarely do I ever leave Target without a book in hand.  I usually have to list out in my head whether dropping the $15 on one book is a good plan or not.  Plus there are always your movie favorites on sale for like 7 bucks. #enablerstrugglefest

I'm also a big fan of the paper and scrapbook aisles, usually for the sales.  I swing by the health and beauty areas and of course home decor.  A girl can always use some Essie nail polish in her life.  I've noticed that Target really loves pairing with designers (clothes, decor, etc.) but honestly, I have no use for a turtleshell as part of my home decor.  I do like finding great things on their sale shelves and in the dollar section.  Depending on the Target, the dollar aisle (or island of half shelves...?) can be pretty clutch.  Target is basically a shopping experience for me.  

I feel like my love of Target and other stores, like many childhood-inducing problems, is deeply rooted.  I'm joking, I don't think these are from my childhood, but I do think they stem from my love of design and all things creative.  I majored in advertising and was usually a large part of the creative team for many of the agencies I worked with when developing projects.  I know how to suck people in and I'm not any better for it.  I'm not a person that says, I don't get hooked into ads, because that would be a blatant lie.  I call out ads as I see them and if they're good, I buy the products.  This is actually a large reason of why I had to wean off watching many beauty vloggers on YouTube.  Every time Nicole Guerriero posted a favorites video, I would find myself at the Walgreens across the street ready to buy the next hottest drugstore make-up.  It became expensive really quickly and I blame her and other beauty vloggers for my obsession with nail polish and lipstick.  Senior year I was obsessed with OPI nail polish and I knew with the Air Force, I couldn't wear really bold colors for much longer.  Conveniently the tanning salon, which was right above the aforementioned Walgreens, carried OPI nail polish.  I was there literally every week.  Sidebar: I would love to be the "namer" who creates those witty polish names for their new lines.

Speaking of college, every Sunday I would take a bus from the campus to the "new" Target.  It was attached to a really nice mall called Hilldale.  This wasn't just any mall, it was hella bourgeois.  I mean, to the nines, with a L'occitane, Anthropologie, ritzy grocery store, Macy's, AVEDA, etc.  It was definitely for the upper class of Madison.  Of course, I would trot through the stores in my college sweatpants since this was a post-studying, relaxing shopping trip.  I looked completely out of place at times, with the SAHM wearing Ralph Lauren and J. Crew, and I loved it.

The main reason for this trip was to browse through the mega Target.  Ryan was deployed to Afghanistan and while I ordered a lot of items in bulk off of Amazon, I still got more specific items from Target.  So I would go up the escalator, which was right next to the escalators that was solely for your carts (I know, it was one badass Target). From there, the Starbucks was to the right, overlooking a scene of University Ave and trees (a stab at having scenery).  Complete with a covered parking garage, that Target was one of the classiest Tarjays I had ever witnessed.

Those weekly trips were therapeutic for me and there is probably a true art to indulgence, but I let Target be that place.  While my husband was gone and I had very few college students to relate to my situation, I would peruse the aisles of Target.  I would come out with boxes of Capri Suns, snacks for care packages, a few new books, and maybe a new pair of shoes.  It felt good for the soul.  I would have my Target bags around my feet as I waited at the bus stop to bring me back to campus.

Now, I took bus rides and cab rides to malls and other places and a blog post may be dedicated on how I survived a deployment on the homefront.  However, the point of those trips wasn't that I was buying anything, although things were definitely bought.  The point was that I was escaping for a few hours.  I wasn't a college student going through my senior year without my husband.  I was just a consumer doing some retail therapy.  I remember one point where I was attempting to get him some sweaters from Target and I didn't know what size to get him.  It was a point of real clarity that my husband was no where near me.  It's not like I could have gotten hold of him and it made me really sad.  Those trips were greatly needed.  I'm not going to lie, I definitely developed some bad habits from my excess in retail therapy, but it's gotten better.  Retail therapy and indulgence, every once in awhile, just helps.  It kept me sane, I did really well in school, and maybe I helped the economy a little bit.  Did I spoil myself? Absolutely.  I also had really awesome clothes back then, too and I tended to look put together.  Hmm...maybe there is something to this art of indulgence.  Either way, the lesson to be learned from this is that it's important to do self-care.  For me, it really is retail and craftastic therapy.  I don't know if craftastic therapy exists but it does in Kimberly's world.  Self-care is just important because for me, it allowed me not to let the stresses of college, graduation, and a deployment get to me.  Although now I have a new set of adult issues so I still occasionally indulge. Do so responsibly and don't let those types of emotions get bottled in.  I'll discuss other ways to make the most out of situations like deployments in my next post.

Thanks for Reading!


  1. I have this saying about my love of Target--I can never leave that store without spending at least $40. I call it my "second home" and because of that I signed up for their debit card. At least I get a discount now during my trips!

    I have the same rule about Forever 21. I refuse to pay for something over $20 there.

    While retail therapy is nice every once in a while, it really can become an unstoppable habit. I was in a miserable job situation and used retail therapy to "escape" that reality. It was a temporary fix that got me into serious debt. I ultimately learned though that "stuff" doesn't equal happiness.

    1. So very true. Stuff never can equate to happiness and that was something I always knew but it was difficult to put two and two together, especially with stores like Target making shopping more of an experience. I've had to pull back on a lot of those habits because my paychecks were going to pay off credit card bills or funding nail polish. Looking back I always think, did you really need all of that nail polish? :P

  2. Ok, why do I get the feeling we are like the exact same person? YouTube had been my worse enable since I stumbled upon beauty videos almost 3 years ago? Man did my makeup grow exponentially. It also didn't help when I got a job in the Macy's Beauty Department, drugstore makeup? Fuhgettaboutit. Now that I'm pregnant and a little more sane (realistic?), albeit emotional, I find myself pondering over things way more now. Like do I really need more eyeshadow? I barely wear what I have now! And I swear I'm like the most suspicious shopper ever. I will walk around with an item in my hands through the entire store for 20 mins and then leave empty handed. No I did not steal, I just am the worst at making decisions and almost always put the item back. Ya know, when I'm not impulsively buying things. Seriously I just am at the two extremes of shopping.

    Anyway, I had become very selfish in fulfilling my needs by shopping away my paycheck, while my fiancé/now husband took care of the big bills. I still indulge occasionally, but it comes in spurts. I almost blame getting a paycheck for my nonchalant spending habits. Hey I worked for this, time to treat myself right? Ha. It also didn't help that my husband KNEW that spending money could and would turn around my mood at the drop of a dime. I think looking at the more important things in life, like providing a happy, healthy home and good wholesome food for my family is a little more important than the newest lipstick/balm/crayon hybrid. Now I'm surrounding by STUFF and am trying to purge and live more simply...yeah it's a process.

    1. I totally loved that you mentioned walking around with the item in your hand because that is literally one of my "mechanisms" for curbing spending. I do the same thing with online shopping carts. I keep the browser tab up and the item(s) in the online cart and I debate about it (sometimes for hours). Usually I talk myself out of it. Sometimes the impulses are a little too great, but like you said, as an adult I have the responsibilities that go with that and a family to look after.

      After moving so many times, it becomes so easy for me to get rid of that extra stuff around the house, including clothes. I purged so many dresses because I never wear them anymore and although very cute, they were meant for young college girls. Not that I'm not young anymore (lol) but I was ready for something different.

      My husband also knows what shopping does to me. It does sometimes put me into a significantly better mood. For me, that's a little sad, because equating the experience of shopping to happiness shouldn't be the case. I think it's all part of the process of maturing.

  3. I am so glad I came across your blog! I have been loving reading your posts! I appreciate your honesty and openness. I have some of those key stores I have to stay away from to keep on my budget and Target is definitely one of them. They just always have that little something that I just haaaaaave to have. Those shoes. That bag. Those thank you notes. Always.

    1. I am so glad! I've been wanting to actually write more in my posts and share that with readers. I think a lot of folks out there can relate to what I'm going through with my own personal experiences and if that helps someone, that's awesome. Target will always be my vice. They're marketing and retail team is doing something right ;)

  4. I love everything about this! Love it!!

    1. Haha Hannah! I am so glad you liked this post. Even more than that, I am stoked that you're blogging as well. I love finding new friends and blogs that accompany them. Yep, I'm a nerd :)

  5. Oh my gosh, I relate to this post so much! I will try to "stop in" at a craft store (Michael's) to grab like, ONE thing for a craft project, and walk out with $50 worth of stuff, oops! It's awful! So I try to make a list and limit my "shopping on a whim..." But once in a while... I just really need some shopping therapy and go on a total spending spree in, of course, TARGET! ;)

    Thanks again for your comment on my post, Kimberly!! :))

  6. :-) Target is my weakness too! I feel like I can never leave without spending at least $50, and its not on purpose! I go in for tissues and I come out with a cute new scarf, some nail polish, lip stick and a sports bra! HAHAHA! Sometimes its nice to just escape real life and play dress up or buy yourself a little present.