The Stores Not Shopped

Sid Wainer’s, Barnes & Noble, L.L. Bean, Ikea,  and Trader Joe’s are my favorite places to shop. I also love going to the King Arthur Flour Baking Center for a class and some time in their store. I can spend hours in used book shops, pulling out dusty hardbacks and reading their faded inscriptions, loving words penned by strangers I’ll never meet. In the past few weeks, I’ve shopped for groceries and bought a book that my older son needed for a class. I found a pair of Land’s End pants and a winter jacket for my younger son, replacements for the ones he outgrew this winter. My husband and I picked up a few hardware necessities at Lowe’s, and I replaced the necessary toiletries at CVS. But that’s about it, because I’m taking a shopping break for Lent this year. It’s not a crazy or drastic change – I’m still buying food and I haven’t extended the shopping hiatus beyond myself. Until Easter, I’m living with what I have and living without what I don’t.

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

I don’t  miss buying stuff. I’d rather have an uncluttered home than a lot of possessions.

If I don’t go into stores that do not sell necessities, I won’t be tempted to buy the little extras.

I have a better idea of what I already own, and how much of it I don’t use. Spring cleaning this year will involve sorting through clothes outgrown or rarely worn, and I’ll donate the kitchen gadgets no one uses.

I’m not one to spend a lot of money shopping, but I’m surprised how many things I buy without much thought or appreciation. When Easter comes, I’ll return to Ikea for housewares and I’ll pick up a book at Barnes & Noble every so often. But I’ll try to be mindful about whatever I buy, everyday necessities or occasional splurges – more aware of the value of things and less likely to mistake an extravagance for a necessity.


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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “The Stores Not Shopped”

  1. Some of my favorite places to shop as well but what a great idea! I just ordered my sis-in-law’s bday present and some needed sheets and there’s nothing else I really need except to stay away from those Amazon Prime email pages they send out by the bucketfuls along with all the others that tempt–delete, delete, delete…so I’m taking a clue from you and saying “begone ye unnecessaries!” (at least for the remainder of Lent–well, two weeks IS two weeks–and a good start at being more mindful and less impulsive). That includes groceries as well. Ah, I can feel the freedom! Thanks for thinking of this. It also awakens a few charities that deserve consideration instead,

    1. Thanks, Bill! It’s been a good practice, and I’m spending some time today weeding out the excess possessions I have in various closets…I like the idea of putting that money toward a charity. Thanks for that! peace, Johnna

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