Some weeks ago, I listened to my cousin’s husband Fred as he told a tale of shopping and marital compromise. Apparently he’d gone out to run some errands, was attracted by a nearby brewery, and completely forgot that he’d been firmly instructed to pick up some cat food. Wishing to maintain household harmony, Fred sent his smartphone in pursuit of Amazon.com, ordered two bags of cat food, and had them delivered to their home two hours later. The cat food actually beat him home—although not by much. (Minnesota has a very active interest in breweries.)
I wasn’t sure whether to deplore his failing memory/laziness or applaud his resourcefulness, or both. After all, I have a failing memory of my own. But Minnesota’s interest in breweries is no longer matched by its support of brick-and-mortar shopping: the Macy’s store in downtown Minneapolis, the hub of the central shopping district, which most of us still call Dayton’s even though it stopped being officially called Dayton’s in 2001 when Dayton’s apparently felt that Minnesotans would be more attracted to a Chicago name (Marshall Fields? Pfffffft)—this block of Minnesota retail has closed, and others are following.
The rise of the megastores was fueled by all-in-one convenience and then overtaken by mass production and price cutting; now it’s more convenient, and often cheaper, to shop online. Maybe you won’t get exactly what you wanted, but you can always hit more buttons and send it back.