A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Search of Mr Potato Head

I am tempted to label the Target Mid-Year Toy Sale as an egregious marketing exercise. Well, let's face it... if they advertise it, they will come. Looking at the large (although not horrifying) numbers that flocked to my particular venue, I daresay the powers that govern the doings of Target all around the country would have made their shareholders pretty happy yesterday or at least would've have potentially made tons of money through lay-bys. Perhaps it is cynical strategy to take advantage of the consumerist impulse that lurks within but if it were just that, I don't know why tens of thousands of mums, dads, grandparents would flock to it. Evidently it must meet some kind of need... and everybody, it is often said, loves a bargain. So what was I doing there on Day One? Me? I was looking for Mr Potato Head.

Officially, this was my first time although... one year... a couple of years ago... I found myself standing in a long queue at a local Big W when all I wanted was a DVD. (I think it was a DVD). It's all pretty hazy now but I remember standing behind a family of Nintendo users because they were buying a stack of Nintendo games and apps. It struck me as being odd at the time for people to be stocking up on entertainment apps as if they were necessities but looking at it in largely economic terms these gaming enthusiasts were obviously doing their part during the GFC in keeping apps developers in business and Big W sales assistant in employment.

This year I joined in the fray motivated partly by curiosity and pragmatism... The rationale behind this quixotic gesture was to stock up for Christmas and birthdays etc. And c'mon... what person doesn't want to save a few bucks even if it means enduring the inconvenience of long queues? Much to my surprise and relief, the circus really wasn't quite as frenzied as I had expected.
Could be that all the really organized (and bold) shoppers had already done their rounds at K-Mart and Big W a couple of weeks earlier. The only really awkward thing was me dragging one of those cute little red carts trying to maneouvre through the narrow and cramped aisles, excusing myself politely and trying to find the shortest route from point A to point B. More often than not, however, I ended up taking the longer route trying to avoid colliding into fellow shoppers who were staring meditatively at pink and blue objects hoping for some kind of inspiration to the eternal question of  "Will I, won't I?"... or wracked with guilt trying to stretch the budget for yet another must-have plaything.
Equally fascinating on my outing was watching grown-ups gushing ecstatically over toys... as if they were reliving their childhoods vicariously through acquiring baby dolls, Lego sets or minature vehicles for the young ones in their lives.

After filling up my cart with Christmas/Birthday non-essentials, I was determined to track down Mr Potato Head. Not the cyborg Buzz Lightyear abomination or the gigantic safari plastic bowl but the original Playskool toy already well-known before being adopted by the Toy Story franchise. It was for my littlest niece... a nice companion for last year's Mrs Potato Head. While I adore the Toy Story film franchise, I find the whole merchandising aspect rather disturbing... apparently we have George Lucas to "thank" for this barrage of film tie-ins we've been inundated with since Star Wars. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing... in my opinion.

After criss-crossing, and backtracking what felt like the labyrinthic structure of the store, (and pouncing on a sales assistant) I did end up finding a Mr Potato Head Original in the Toy Story section which was good as he seemed to be the last one on the shelf when I got to it.

Shopping is sometimes called "retail therapy" but I beg to disagree... I don't find shopping therapeutic whatsoever. "Exhausting" is closer to what I have in mind. However, I do like saving money... and if it means I won't have to rush around like a beheaded chicken on the 22nd December trying to find something for all the younger children in our families, joining a stampede like this one doesn't appear all that bad. In fact, it makes me feel almost... organized...

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