I must admit I am something of a Monaco misfit, in that I am not much of a shopper. Occasionally yes, but although I love clothes and appreciate how beautifully my friends dress, I don’t enjoy shopping per se and only do so when absolutely necessary.
I still find shopping in Monaco somewhat daunting and rarely fun. You enter a store and are accosted. A salesperson demands to know what you want, need, are looking for – in short, what exactly you are doing on that particular salesperson’s turf. The thinly veiled message here is that you better not be wasting anyone’s time. And if you just want to look around and maybe try on a couple items on your own, uh, no. So unless I need something specific, I rarely go into a store.
But put me back in New York, where I am at the moment, and this Non Shopper goes into something similar to a feeding frenzy. Shopping in America is that irresistible. I was in one of my favorite malls yesterday, and I swear to you, it almost brought tears to my eyes. The selection, the sales, the prices and the service are not to be taken for granted, at least not by this expat. You can browse and look around, try things on to your heart’s content. If you need something, you ask a friendly salesperson and they bring it to you. It’s overwhelming.
I rarely visit the US without at least two or three empty suitcases and often need to buy one more.
The frenzy is contagious, and the M-men have it too. We were in Borders when Harry Potter 7 was released on DVD. My son was beside himself – can we get it, Mom, please? We don’t have it! The price of the DVD, just out that day, was $29. It also happened to be ‘on sale’ for $22. I asked why they didn’t just sell it for $22 right off the bat and the sales guy looked at me and explained that if they did that, they couldn’t put it on sale. Uh, duh! Was I stupid or what? But whatever, it works for me. We bought it for $22 and everyone was happy.
The same is true for clothes. Abercrombie is of course, a huge draw for the boys and it seems that at any given time literally three quarters of the merchandise is marked down between 30 and 50 percent. Add to that a favorable exchange rate, and you need an entire suitcase just for that store.
And it’s completely stress free shopping. You buy something, take it home and try it on again. If you decide it’s not quite as flattering as it seemed in front of the skinny mirrors with the music blaring and the dim lights, then no problem, you take it back. Heaven forbid you need to return something in Monaco – there it’s store credit only, Madame. I know this is due to smaller shops and limited inventory, but it does add to the already considerable pressure of shopping there.
So I do virtually all my shopping, the boys' shopping, the household shopping and much miscellaneous shopping in America. With the lower prices, even an occasional mistake is no biggee. Going through customs, however, is another story – one that merits another blog. I’ll get to it, but not right now. It’s time to go shopping.