The True Meaning of Shopping

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If you think shopping is a simple act based on simple human needs, you’re sadly mistaken. Either that or you’re a really good, amazingly efficient and unemotional shopper. For most consumers, shopping takes on meaning beyond a basic exchange of goods and currency, serving as therapy, entertainment, sport, drug, and sometimes, um, torture?

Right now, during the height of the season—the shopping season, that is—seems as good a time as any to ponder the deeper meaning of shopping, with the help of 10 insightful quotes:

SHOPPING AS ENTERTAINMENT
“Shopping will continue to be this nation’s highest form of entertainment.” — Toys R Us CEO Jerry Storch

SHOPPING AS CONTACT SPORT
“Shopping is a woman thing. It’s a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.” — Erma Bombeck

SHOPPING AS PERSONAL EXPRESSION
“Whether for a plant, a pair of pumps, or a political candidate, shopping is a way we search for ourselves and our place in the world. Though often conducted in the most public of spaces, it’s essentially an intimate and personal experience – as we taste, touch, sift, consider, and talk our way through myriad possibilities. Shopping involves searching not only externally, as in a store, but internally, through memory and desire. It’s a vehicle for self-expression, self-definition, creativity, even healing – an interactive process in which we dialogue with people, places, things, and parts of ourselves.” — April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

SHOPPING AS DRUG
“For millions of us on the whirling dance floor, shopping became a way to pick ourselves up after a tough day at work and a source of entertainment on weekends. Mindless accumulation proved as satisfying as any drug.” — Andrew Benett & Ann O’Reilly, authors of Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending

SHOPPING AS (DUBIOUS) STRESS RELIEVER
“Shopping relieves stress … However, like with new toys on Christmas morning, the feeling quickly fades and is replaced by more stress and guilt as they are left to deal with the consequences.” — Dr. Brad Klontz, co-author of Mind Over Money

SHOPPING AS SUBSTITUTE FOR THERAPY
“I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.” – Tammy Faye Baker

SHOPPING AS PATH TO HAPPINESS
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” — Bo Derek

SHOPPING AS CHILDLIKE EXPLORATION
“The purest example of human shopping I know of can be seen by watching a child go through life touching absolutely everything. You’re watching that child shop for information, for understanding, for knowledge, for experience, for sensation. Especially for sensation, otherwise why would he have to touch or smell or taste or hear anything twice? Keep looking: Watch a dog. Watch a bird. Watch a bug. You might say the ant is searching for suitable food. I say he is shopping.” – Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

SHOPPING AS … A WHOLE MESS OF UNHEALTHY STUFF
“Shopping was my escape, my friend, my balm, my release, my pacifier, my pleasure, my secret, my pastime, my kill time, my fantasy, my reality, my recreation, my therapy, my drug, my stimulant, my lover, my memory, my link with the past, my trip to the future.” – Avis Cardella, author of Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict

SHOPPING AS TORTURE
“I represent millions of men who look at holiday shopping the same way they do a drug-free colonoscopy. Or, worse, being trapped in a room with a TV that has only one channel and, even worse, plays only ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ reruns over and over.” — Lt. Steve Rose, who writes the View from a Cop blog in Atlanta

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