A slightly bigger cross-body bag. In a fancy colour. That's all I wanted. Slightly larger than the bag already slung across my shoulders, my affordable purple Kipling bag, the physical representation of which gave me a template for the size the new bag needed to be bigger than. 'Cause unless you have a small tape measure with you at all times (another reason why I needed a bigger bag), you need to have the old purse with you, because you'll look at new purses and, on first glance, they will appear to be bigger than your old purse. Zippers all over the place, secret compartments, places to put things, sections that are separated. They look like they'll fit things. They won't. My Kipling purse, purchased to see if I could downsize, resembles an overstuffed sausage when I carry everything I 'need' in it.
a book or my e-reader
compact shopping bag
Sure, you can try to eliminate items. Only my car and house keys. No slippers, no extra underwear, no compact shopping bag, one lipstick, no books, no tweezers or nail clippers/files, no hand wipes, no tampons.
2 days I managed. Less strain in carrying. I could totally manage
this! Until I got my period unexpectedly and had no tampons and no
change of underwear. I broke a heel on my work shoes and had no ballet
slippers. Was the only one to the office, with no office keys. Had
three hairs in my neck without tweezers and broke my thumbnail beyond
the quick - reaching for nail clippers/file that no longer travelled
I was done. I needed a bigger bag. I didn't
want black. Everyone has a black bag. I wanted something sassy,
something bright - something that I wouldn't mistake for anyone else's. I wanted to have something reasonably priced.
For 55 minutes I wandered the Handbag Hall at the Bay, killing time before my train ride home.
Back and forth - wending my way from section to section. I must have passed the same bags 7 times. From Guess, to Kate Spade to Fossil to Calvin Klein. There are probably 5000 sq feet of displays on the first floor that are devoted to moderately priced purses and bags. Then there is this other side, say another 2500 square feet - adjacent to the jewellery section, perpendicular to the moderately priced purses and bags, a section that is brighter and shinier and much more like travelling to Oz. I knew. I knew as I stepped across the divide that my shoes couldn't afford to touch the carpet.
Don't lift the tag, it will just make you cry.
The colours were stunning on that side of the aisle. Buttery leathers, crisp felts and elaborate fabrics calling out to me...
"Heather... Heather... just touch us. Just feel us. Look over here, Heather... Look over here..."
As in a dream, I lifted the price tag on a turqoise bag. $525.00?!? I could buy a new dishwasher for that!!! I couldn't contain my bark of laughter.
Two young women, probably early 20s - but to my eyes, still in high school - said, "Beautiful bag, isn't it?"
"Yes. Yes it is."
"Would you like us to show you any other bags in that line?"
I couldn't help but laugh again. "No thanks. I shouldn't be here. Really, I shouldn't. I feel like I owe you money just for lifting the price tag. I'll just go back to other side of the aisle." I gestured with my chin as I backed up. "You know. Over there, where I don't have to amortize a purchase to make it worthwhile."
I nonchalantly meandered back to the other section, trying not to yell out to the other shoppers as I passed them, "ARE YOU INSANE?!? IT'S A FREAKING PURSE! A PURSE!!! YOU COULD MAKE AN EXTRA MORTGAGE PAYMENT INSTEAD!"
As I moved back, it occured to me that there were bags priced far beyond the $525 mark, I just hadn't lifted the tags on them yet.
In the moderately priced section I spied another turquoise bag - this one leather, with studs on one side. Not thrilled about the studs, but I could turn it around - kind of messengery in style and... $225.00. Having just been to the other side, this was a bargain! I should buy two and just hold the other one for 5 years until the first one wore out!
And that folks, is just what they want you to think. They have their shiny designer side all well laid out with their perfectly dusted shelves with the make-you-gasp price tags... They know that the regular shopper isn't going to pay that much for a bag. I don't spend $225 on anything - unless it's a winter coat. Even then, I'd be balking and trying to figure out how many years I could get out of it. $225.00 I was doing the math as I took my cheap-ass Kipling purse and measured it against the new bag. The bag was almost the same freaking size!!!
On my next pass through Handbag Hall I had my current purse out in front of me - sizing as I went. Only when the prospective bag was bigger, did I turn over the price tag. $295.00?!?
"Oh, COME ON!!"
$295 was considered moderately priced?!? That just didn't compute. I looked around at other shoppers - trying to make eye contact, trying to say without words, "Fight the power! Together we can make a scene, let them know this is unacceptable, we won't take it any more!!" I suspect I just came off as socially inept, suffering from a glandular disorder that made me wide-eyed.
I left without buying anything. I showed them. I showed them all. And then the next week, I sourced another cheap-ass - slightly larger than my original - cross-body bag for a tenth of the price of the first bag I looked at. Sure, it's not as pretty, isn't exactly what I wanted and probably won't last many seasons, but it didn't cost me an extra mortgage payment and I can carry an entire box of tampons in it.