In the United States, every day is a great day to go shopping, because there is always a sale happening somewhere. In France, sales happen only twice a year (once in summer and once in winter), so they’re somewhat of an event, regulated by the state and lasting for six weeks.
Yet. Unlike in America, the concept of a store ordering more merchandise in order to (potentially) unload more does not seem to exist. A limited number of shoes, for example, will be ordered depending on how common a size is and how many pairs were sold the previous year (39 is the most common and you’re really pushing your luck if you happen to be a wee bit taller or bigger in any way than the average Frenchwoman) And after the first weekend of soldes THERE WILL BE NO MORE SHOES FOR YOU, MADAME. So I know that if I don’t try and find a pair of boots in size 41 this very day, I will likely remain stuck in my scruffy red shitkickers through 2017. Nonetheless, something in me resists “le shopping.”
I just don’t buy that shopping=solidarity, even though that’s what we thought former U.S. president George W. Bush wanted us to believe. It was widely reported that he urged the American people to “go shopping” in the aftermath of 9/11 and until today, I’d always believed his words had been uttered in that context. Back then, I even stopped shopping for anything nonessential in nonviolent protest against this reported exhortation. But after doing a little research this morning, I learned that this video was a doctored one from 2006:
Now that I’m no longer thinking of shopping as an activity pressed upon me by G Double-ya, it no longer seems like the evil antithesis to solidarity. But it’s not a solution, either. It must be time to organize another clothing swap…friends, clean out your closets!