Retail Panic for Some Means Job Security for Others

I’m not proud of myself for loading up a shopping cart and then in some kind of retail panic, leaving it in the aisle and fleeing the store. Well, maybe I am a little. 


It was about the most impulsive (repulsive perhaps) thing I’ve done in some time. And it’s all because despite how far I’ve come, I’m still me. And I just happened to be in the area. 

I don’t normally travel in the direction of the largest fabric store in the universe. But I did and there I was, only a few short blocks from the entrance. So I stopped in to just … uh, … look around.

Potential. That’s what I saw. Aisle after aisle of potential gifts, quilts, tablescapes, sweaters, hats, decorator pillows, blankets, pure joy.

There were several bargains that quite frankly one should never pass up. And that is the ONLY reason I found a shopping cart. I mean come on … my favorite brand of flannel—the really good stuff—BOGO (that’s buy-one-get-one-free for you novices)? And flannel-backed satin in the perfect shade of Christmas red for $4.59 a yard? And the most adorable fleece for next to nothing!

I made my way to the cutting table when I noticed something new: A take-a-number machine. Hate those things. But now I’m stuck, so I plucked 73 from its little mouth and pulled back to notice Now Serving 61. 

Patience is not one of my finer qualities. I could no more have stood there and waited through 12 servings for my turn, than do backflips while performing a double cast-on (a little knitting lingo and oh, by the way, they have yarn, too). 

So I decided to see if I’d missed any other bargains. I had. By the time they called for number 68, I was in a cold sweat.

What am I doing?! In my cart, I have 12 bolts of gorgeous fabric, 8 skeins of to-die-for yarn, 18 quality zippers and enough thread to choke a goat. And for what? At home, I have more fabric, yarn, and notions than the legal limit. I have no place to put any of this. I don’t need more because I have too much already. 

It was as if my entire audience of readers (somewhere north of a million when we consider online together with those of you who meet up with me in your local newspapers) were staring at me. And that is when I did the unthinkable. 

I bolted for the door. Somehow, I found the car and sped home with my heart racing the way one’s heart races after experiencing a close call.

I do regret leaving that cart for some clerk to re-shelve its contents. However, given the condition of the store, I would suggest I’m not the first case of textile overload they have ever had to deal with. 

And considering the mountain behind the cutting table, re-shelving bolts of fabric offers full-time employment for several people. I prefer to think that my little escapade provided job security for someone.

I am grateful that in the end, I reaffirmed something I’ve learned through the years but need to be reminded of often: Even when it feels as if I have no choice but to respond impulsively, I do have a choice. I can always take a deep breath and walk away. Or run.

First published Everyday Cheapskate: 4-30-19

PREVIOUSLY: 13 Ways to Save Money Eating Out at Restaurants

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20 replies
  1. Betty Thomas says:

    I needed a little laugh and reminder this morning. It is the reason it is so hard for me to go near a flea market of vintage shabby chic store. I have to be in a “I’m just looking for ideas” mode or I must avoid it completely.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Remove all options except for the one to just look for ideas: Arrive with no cash, plastic or checkbook. It’s hard, I know—a hardcore approach. The kind I need to keep my inner whiny impulsive self quiet.

  2. jimijean says:

    Bless your heart! And not “Texas Style” either. I’ve said since I weave, knit, spin, cane, I’ll not get involved with making lace, tatting, hooking rugs, embroidery, etc., etc. Because, if I do, I’ve gotta have a CLONE and that stops me every time. Plus I’ve got one of those Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy places already.

    • kddomingue says:

      I hear you! Between the sewing/quilting/upholstery stash, the handwork stash, the art stash and the crochet stash…..well, I too have a Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy. And my husband has one…..and my son has one…..and my granddaughter is well on her way to a fairly impressive one. We’d have to buy a bigger house/shop/garage and we’d all have to have clones, lol! I only venture into a store that carries stash items if one of us lacks a particular thing that none of us has in any of our stashes. And I strive to go in like I have blinders on and can see that item and only that item….a seek, find, acquire and then run like the devil’s after me mission!

  3. Bonnie Colcher says:

    The best and hardest thing I did was downsize and move a year ago. I really have no room for anything new. I even bring back very little when I travel, which is not my usual MO.

  4. Judi James Merrow says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mary. I felt like I was right there with you, Not sure I would have had the courage to leave it though. I also have Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy. I am a crocheter from way back. So my patterns, hooks and yarn I think could start a store. I don’t live very far from either Mary Maxim or Spinrite and when they would have their tent sales a bunch of us girls just has to check it out ,,,, Have been a good girl for a couple of years and shopped my own tubs and found stuff I forgot I bought!!

  5. Birgit Nicolaisen says:

    And this is precisely why I have never started scrapbooking. I would be down that rabbit hole never to return…. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Kathleen French says:

    Mary, Your “Consumerholic Confessionals” are always your best writing. I am laughing out loud in part because of your honesty and also because you seem to be laughing at yourself. That gives me permission to laugh at myself and make a conscious choice EVERY time. Thanks.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Laughter is the best kind of therapy. In fact, Proverbs 17:22 tells us that laughter (a merry heart) is good medicine! I figure that as long as I can laugh at myself, I’ll never run out of material.

      • MoreFreedom2 says:

        I figure as long as I can laugh at myself, I’ll never run out of material

        I’m going to keep that in mind for myself. Thanks!

  7. Christine Lass says:

    LOL!! Haven’t we ALL done that?? But just one little thing from one of those people who put that left fabric back where it belongs- much better to say to one of the clerks on duty that you have changed your mind and leave the cart with them. Sometimes we are looking for a very specific fabric (like for an online purchase) and we’ll never find it in a abandoned cart somewhere!
    And as long as the lines get we do try our hardest to clear them, but we have no control over how many people can be on a shift! We wish we did!

      • John Williamson says:

        There’s always next time.

        Get a number when you first enter the store, even if you don’t intend to get any stuff, then auction your number to the highest bidder when you decide you don’t need to use it.

        Feel free to steal my idea as if you thought of it first.

  8. Mary Davis says:

    Hubby is ready to retire next June. Daughter and her family of 4 are moving in with us this June so they will be in a position to buy our house soon. I need to make room and pack up as we will be moving to Oregon this time next year.
    I’m stressed already. Now I see all the great sales at Joann’s and Michaels and get that same feeling as you when irresistible bargains are at hand. Also like you, I’m already waaaay over the legal limit in my stuffed craft room ( soon to be grands room).
    I can’t even drive close to one of those stores. Because unlike you I could wait in a line check out line. See, I don’t really have anything else to do. Right?
    Holding fast.

  9. Linda A says:

    Sorry Mary! This sounds like a place I would like to visit. I am in your area and would like to know where this store is. It doesn’t look like our typical chain store. It is so hard to find knit fabric and I would love to venture out to where ever this is. I would wait in line for this.

  10. PatriotPeg says:

    mary thank u for all u do. i am very frugal. never over shop. there r times i must push myself to buy new things. and only buy extra when i find bogos. however, i always get tips on something i thought knew, but did not. such as cooking, buying the right thing, gifting ideas, etc. look forward to your column every day.

  11. Lisa Marie Brulinski says:

    I’ve done this online! I load up my shopping cart with all this “got-to-have-it’s” and then I sit there staring at it AND the hefty price tag… then I start deleting items that I don’t really need and most of the time wind up deleting the whole cart or at least pairing it down to the really MUST HAVE item or two.


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