06 April 2009

The Knowledge

It's not fashionable to admit it these days, but I love shopping. It's in the thrill of the chase, and in the moment of discovering a bargain or an unexpected treasure. I thoroughly enjoy window shopping, and I have been known to embrace online shopping for some very specific items, like DVDs, books and locating particular homewares from eBay. 

My love of shopping isn't just for fun things either. I love shopping for food (even in a supermarket), plants, and the newspaper. About the only shopping experiences I don't enjoy is buying petrol, stamps at the post office, and lining up for hours on end to buy school books and kids' shoes. I think I've probably spent an entire week of my life over the last 13 years waiting to buy shoes for my children. 

In the last week, I had a bit of an epiphany about shopping: it's even more enjoyable when you have a friend in tow to share their inside knowledge of a particular shop or brand with you. Or when you share one of your favourite shopping experiences with a friend.

My dear friend J is an expert at making her dollars last and last. She took me on a tour of our local Aldi last weekend, and pointed out all of the great products and the ones to avoid. I'd been before, but felt rather overwhelmed. This time, I came away with two bags of the good ones; organic black tea, tinned tomatoes, cornflakes, muffins and many packets of biscuits, including the infamous Jaffa Cakes. (Which I did enjoy, but still not as much as the late lamented Arnott's version.) All of these items were already on my shopping list, and I managed to save quite a bit, and learn how to do the whole speed check-out thing.

Later in the week, a work friend and champion shopper took me on a similar excursion, but this time to Witchery. Now I know that Witchery had a complete revival about a dozen years ago, when it morphed from being all about daggy pink angora embroidered jumpers to offering up of the moment 'pieces' in great styles and colours at good prices, but I still tend to overlook it when it comes to the quest for clothes (I'm not even sure why). But armed with a 20% off voucher, my friend's intimate knowledge of what Witchery is really good at, and some specific ideas of what I need to buy this winter, I had a ball trying things on. She helped me find that rarest of things too - good scoop neck t-shirts, with really long sleeves in a stretchy fabric (surprisingly hard to find at a reasonable price). I'll be including Witchery on my list of "I know I'll find something great in here" places now.

I had my turn of sharing my shopping Knowledge during the week too. I caught up with an old friend for coffee during the week, and she admired my tablecloth - a brightly coloured plastic coated length of fabric from Mexico. I ended up taking her to where I'd bought it before Christmas: Market Import. I, like thousands of other people, adore this homewares shop, which stocks lots of bright Mexican, Italian and Spanish ceramics, glassware, baskets, fabrics and accessories. My favourite bangles, platters and bowls come from there. My friend hadn't discovered it before (it's tucked away in a little street in Armadale near a train station), and she was in heaven. It was such fun seeing her oooh and aahh over different things.

All of this demonstrates that, while it is perfectly pleasant to shop alone, shopping with a friend is one of the world's great participation sports, especially when you get to share in The Knowledge.

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