I shopped at K Mart yesterday. For me K Mart has always had a bit of the Walmart/Warehouse tinge to it. Great for people on a budget but I’d rather buy something more expensive because I think it will last another 12 months longer. If I had more money I’d be buying it in Ballantynes because I know it will last forever. Apparently that perception that paying more for something means it will last longer is rubbish, as it’s been proven we prefer to pay for the label or the experience above the price of the goods. I understand that now that I’m wearing a pair of exercise pants that only cost me $14 and which yesterday withstood the pull and stretch of all the wobbly bits and the seams remain intact. I could’ve gone down to Rebel Sports and paid twice as much so I’m smiling and thanking those people who sent me into K Mart.
This morning I had the opposite experience. I went to Merrivale. My coffee cost more than it does on this side of town and all the women were tanned and bejewelled and wearing things that looked as though they were worth a damned sight more than my weekly wage. The new-look mall is white and slick and full of shops that had no-one in them leading me to suppose these shops have margins that allow for only selling one thing a week. I was feeling a bit out of my comfort zone until I realized I was unconsciously accepting the idea that material wealth creates better people. I know better than that. For most of the time I was working in London I was dealing with some exceptionally rich people and loved going to shops where all I did was look. The people who actually spent money in these shops were different because they could afford to shop there, but you’d never know it from the things they said or the way they went about their daily lives. Perhaps it’s because old money or new, the Brits accept wealth in the same way we accept wide open spaces and wonderful scenery. It is what it is. But not for everyone. The Russians who lived in London threw money at everything. Houses, cars, horses, football clubs anything that could get them noticed. They never understood that far from making them part of the society they wanted to belong to, all it did was set them apart. In NZ large numbers of the newly rich, tend “Russian” it up and I don’t like the way we accept that as a good thing. The part of me that supports the common good and wants to send all children to school in shoes with a lunch tucked into their schoolbag; starts gagging when ostenatious wealth flaunts its way across my path. I have come to understand that the best deal is a good deal and I don’t necessarily need to see it to believe.