kottke.org posts about shopping
Men hate shopping so they buy their favorite shoes/coats/pants/shirts in bulk. Here are interviews with some of those men. Guess who this might be:
I hate to shop. For the last 20 years I only shopped once every two or three years. I would go to the big and tall store and buy only what I could find in 20 minutes, tops - usually a few dozen briefs, T-shirts and sweaters. If there was time left, I would try on a jacket. Nothing needed to be perfect: just fit and be black.
Now I am buying African block-print shirts and pants in a riot of colors and patterns from an African street merchant. I visit him every few weeks to see what's new. I buy 10 or 15 at a time.
Whole Foods' stock is going down, but maybe it shouldn't be. "The whole idea of good food and gourmet eating has begun to transcend the PBS-store bag toter."
More and more, shoppers are judging books by their covers. "Studies show that a book on a three-for-two table has about one and a half seconds to catch a reader's eye."
Spike Jonze. Gap commercial. Go watch.
Stupid phrase that I'm sure will catch on because the TV and print media that propagates such things is brainless: Cyber Monday. "The Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, when online retailers reportedly experience a surge in purchases" because everyone is back at their speedy internet connections (sans family) at work.
Update: "Cyber Monday" was created by shop.org, an organization of online retailers, as a marketing promotion. It's only the 12th biggest online shopping day of the year. (thx randy and minuk)
Wanted to share a few last things from Bangkok while they're still (relatively) fresh in my head.
1. Green tuk tuks. I read somewhere that a) the locals don't much care for the tuk tuks (photo) because they're noisy & polluting and that they're only still around because tourists use them, and b) supposedly no new tuk tuks are allowed on the street, but that's more of a guideline than a fast rule. How about this...start regulating tuk tuks like taxis, put a meter in them, stop the unannounced commission-subsidization detours, and require them to be electric (they're glorified golf carts after all). The crammed streets of Bangkok need more smaller vehicles like tuk tuks, not less, but without the pollution, noise, and the unreliability.
2. Both the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho are worth a look. We happened to go to the Grand Palace on the day they were changing the Emerald Buddha's clothes (done to celebrate the changing of the seasons), so we didn't get to see him. But the Reclining Buddha made up for it...I was not prepared for how large he was. Quite impressive.
3. We were lucky to be in Bangkok for the Loy Krathong festival, which is a celebration at the end of the rainy season where you float your worries out onto the water in the form of a floating flower arrangement with candles and incense. But it was largely a bust for us...it rained/torrential downpoured most of the evening, and we didn't really know where to go in Bangkok to participate/experience the event. I think Loy Krathong might be better experienced on a smaller scale (i.e. not in the big city).
4. On Saturday (which seems like forever-ago from my Wednesday vantage point in another country), we went to check out Chatuchak Weekend Market, which IMO is overrated. It's a completely overwhelming experience, it's difficult to find anything (they labelled each section with what could be found there, but they rarely matched reality), and is recommended only for really hardcore shoppers. Check out some of the smaller markets instead; the Suan Lum Night Market near Lumpini Park was a good one that we ran across. For food, check out the Aw Kaw Taw market.
Perhaps a bit more if I remember. (Oh, and I've got lots of photos from Hong Kong and Bangkok, but posting them will probably happen when I get home...need a proper monitor for editing and whatnot.)
When you read up on Hong Kong prior to visiting, most guides make mention of the different levels of the city. Physical levels, that is. The city proper is built on a hill and there are so many tall buildings that you quickly lose interest in counting all of them; imagine Nob Hill in San Francisco, except with skyscrapers. The famous escalator cuts through the city up the hill; the change in elevation over its short span is impressive, especially when you get to the top and realize you're actually only a few horizontal blocks from where you started.
Much of the HK's retail and dining is vertically oriented; there's just not enough storefront real estate to contain it all. You'll typically find restaurants on the 3rd or 4th floor of buildings and 3- to 6-level malls jammed with retail stores are everywhere; the Muji we went to was on level 7 of Langham Place. Skyways connect buildings together -- as do subways -- so much of the foot traffic in some areas isn't even on the street level. Cars and buses (with two levels) zoom on highways passing over city streets and other highways, past the midlevels of buildings just a block or two away and down the hill. As a pedestrian, you can find yourself staring up at a 50-story building in front of you and then turning slightly to peer into the 15th floor of a building 2-3 blocks away. It's a disorienting sensation, being on the ground level and the 15th floor at the same time, as if the fabric of space had folded back onto itself. Many people aren't used to negotiating cities so intensively 3-D, particularly when all the maps reinforce the Flatlandness of the city grid.
 Well, not entirely physical. There are economic levels for one; the woman selling eggs on the street for a couple of HK$ each while tourists shop for Prada and Burberry only blocks away. You've got British culture over Chinese culture...and then Chinese culture layering back over that since the handover in 1997. You've got different levels of authenticity, from the fake electronics & handbags to the real Chanel cosmetics & Swarovski crystal, from the more touristy, mediated experiences to the hidden corners of real Hong Kong.
Shopping is huge here in Hong Kong, second only to dining as a pastime for travelers to the city (and I'm not even sure that's true). Yesterday we checked out Shanghai Tang (various locations around the city, including Central, in the Peninsula Hotel, and the InterContinential Hotel). Many of the clothes are a little too Asian-styled for me (I'd feel a bit conspicuous wearing them in NYC, a concern obviously not shared by the American woman who was trying on some black pants with a white sequined dragon emblazoned down one pant leg), but aside from that, the designs were very simple and stylish, with clean lines and good use of bold color.
Speaking of simple and clean, that reminds me that we've yet to track down a Muji store here...today perhaps.
Great ongoing collection of old mall photography. Includes shots of Southdale in Edina, MN, the very first mall ever built.