The return of catalogue shopping

The Sears at the Town ‘n’ Country Mall in Moose Jaw was filled with Sears Days shoppers when the news was announced that it, along with several other Saskatchewan locations, would be shutting down for good. One costumer complained as she entered the store that she would now have to go to Regina to do her clothing shopping. -- (Crystal Schick/Times-Herald)

I am reminded today of something my grandparents recently told me.

I was over at their place for dinner with the family and my grandparents noted that we as a society are going back to catalogue shopping, except using the Internet, and that it was a shame.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized they were right. Catalogue shopping was a big thing years ago. You’d get a catalogue, page through it with many items for sale and once you decided what you wanted, you’d phone in your order without once touching or seeing anything you’re paying for. With clothing sizes, you’d have to use the measurement chart and if it didn’t fit when it arrived, you’d have to send it back and wait for the new size to come in. It was something that you could do from the comfort of your own home.

That fad started to fade as time went on when big stores began to expand into communities outside the major centres and because of the undeniable appeal of physically going to a store. You could try on clothes before you bought them to make sure they fit. You could touch the books, CDs and movies you wanted before deciding if that’s what you wanted to spend your money on. It was a reason to get out of the house, browse around and leave with your purchase immediately without waiting for the item to be shipped and arrive sometime later.

Yet with the rise of the Internet, online shopping is the new thing. Except it’s not new at all. It’s exactly like catalogue shopping except without having to pick up the phone to place an order. You can order what you want from the comfort of your own home and you can’t actually see or touch what you’re buying. You read the descriptions of what the item is, how much it’ll cost and click a few buttons and you’re good to go. Then you wait until your order arrives and if you don’t like it, you have to ship it back.

Many things, it seems, come in and out of style when years pass. Whether it’s shopping, music or style, the new generations might think they’ve found a revolutionary way of doing things, when in fact it’s a small difference from how things used to be. Of course there are new innovations coming out every day – take technology as the best example – but at the same time, some things from the past are coming back in style.

I am reminded of all of this with this week’s announcement that Sears is closing 59 locations across Canada, including Moose Jaw’s store. In communicating with Sears spokespeople for comment on the story, I was told that Sears launched a new website and the company is encouraging people to order online.

Sears isn’t even close to being the only store to follow this trend. Online shopping is becoming more and more prevalent every day, especially with younger generations. Right now it looks to be the way of the future.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many retailers are struggling because of the rise of online shopping. That is a shame because I feel quite strongly that it’s still so important to support your local businesses and physically go shopping in the community. Not only are you supporting small business owners and often finding unique items you can’t find in other places, but you are also supporting your community. Every dollar you spend locally goes back to the community. It’s essential that this continues to keep every community strong.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with online shopping. I’ve done it myself from time to time.

However, we can’t stop buying from our local stores and supporting local business. By doing so, you will be investing in your community and that will always be worthwhile.