My experiment officially ended on January 15 and I’m happy to report that it did not actually kill me. While it was definitely a challenge, I had a ton of fun with it.
1. A Really Fun Puzzle to Solve
“I need thing. Where can I find thing from a small retailer? Is this even available from a small retailer?” I had to get creative about where to shop and map out my errands based on priority of need and the shops’ limited hours of operation.
2. Spending Money in the Right Places
When I purchase from a boutique, I know that the money I’m spending significantly affects the business’ bottom line and the livelihood of the salesperson who helps me. If I spend a dollar at Wish, it’s a much more meaningful dollar than if I were to spend it at Anthropologie.
3. Experience New Boutiques
Here are some fun new (to me) boutiques I explored during my challenge:
- Wish (the Wallingford location). Loved this place! When I needed some warmer options this winter, I found a cozy vest, a winter skirt, and a long sleeved button-down I could easily layer.
- The Pretty Parlor. I have yet to purchase from the Pretty Parlor, but I know exactly where I’m going to go when I need new bloomers or petticoats for dancing. They also carry ReMix Shoes and Stop Staring. WIN!
- Queen Anne Dispatch. This shop is an interesting mix of vintage-inspired boutique brands, Seattle Urbaneering style clothing (like Prana), home goods (like candles), and greeting cards. It’s a fun little shop, though I’ve found the quality of service is inconsistent.
- Peridot Boutique. This is a very trendy little shop with excellent service. The clothing styles in Peridot aren’t really for me – far too modern – but it’s an excellent place for me to pick up gifts for friends and family.
4. Purposeful, Conscientious Purchasing
I have definitely changed the way I shop.
I used to have a horrible pattern. If felt a little discontent or depressed, I’d wander into my favorite retailers, like Anthropologie or Lucky Brand, and spend hours looking for inspiration. My wanderings didn’t always end up with purchases, but when I did buy something it was because I was searching for happiness – not looking for a specific item. All in all, I would end up spending unnecessarily and have an over-stuffed closet. Not to mention that I obviously never found the happiness for which I was shopping.
My new shopping habits are almost the polar opposite. Because I don’t shop in the giant one-stop-shops anymore, I need a very specific list before I venture out. I’ve begun to surprise myself by the amount of self-control I exhibit. Not too long ago, I wandered into Wish with three very specific items on my list: a solid-colored skirt (not black), a not-bulky vest to keep me warm in the office, and long-sleeved shirts to wear with my high-waisted skirts. Lucky me, I found all of those items in one shop. I also found a dress that looked amazing on me. Truly amazing, as if it had been tailored for my body.
I wanted it. I would have worn it. It was absolutely affordable.
But I didn’t need it. I have a closet full of fantastic dresses that I wear all the time.
I didn’t buy the dress and I don’t regret it – I actually feel proud of myself for saving money and closet space.
5. Free of Impulse Purchases
An ultimate test occurred right after the holidays. I spent a night out with my mom and mother-in-law at University Village. U-Village has all your usual mall suspects, including some of my biggest weaknesses. I had an entirely lovely evening wandering around and enjoying the company without feeling the need to buy anything – or even try anything on, for that matter.
The minute my challenge was over, I’m ashamed to admit, I ordered a bunch of crap from Amazon Prime Now. Just a couple mandala coloring books and some colored pencils. I immediately felt guilty. And to make it worse, I thought I was ordering treasures, but I was completely dissatisfied with the printing in the book and the colored pencils were of poor quality.
I replaced them all with items I found in boutiques.
Shopping Small in 2016
I really like the way this challenge has changed me. Overall, I think I’m a much more purposeful, conscientious, less materialistic person. I’ve decided to continue my challenge throughout the course of calendar year with just a few caveats.
- Makeup and cosmetics will still come from Sephora.
- I’ll purchase certain drugstore needs, like toilet paper and vitamins, at Bartell’s.
- Patagonia is an acceptable large company for me to support. It is socially and environmentally aware and fits in the spirit of what I’m trying to do.
- Some gifts will inevitably come from Amazon as not everyone’s tastes can be satisfied at Endless Knot.
Cheers to shopping small in 2016.