Retail Therapy vs Sales Resistance

I don’t shop to feel good. In fact I rarely shop at all. I’m more the ‘find it, kill it, drag it home’ type. That’s why I’ve waited until my last week in Bali to make the necessary purchases.

I’m not immune, however, to beautiful, unique things. Two days ago I saw a pair of pants. I was instantly drawn to them because they were not ordinary. The fabric was a mixture of navy, teal, taupe, and cream tie-dye. The style was wide legged and flowy. There were pockets. There were gathers. It was a beautiful study in complexity. I tried to ignore them, paging through all the other items on the racks in this little boutique type shop. Their allure was magnetic. They drew me back to look again. I soon realized there were only two pants of this style and only one in this color combination. The shop attendant had left me to my own devices but now she approached and suggested I try them on. “What size?” I said. “One size,” she replied. “They won’t fit,” I said. “Try, please,” she replied. I started to decline but, oh what the heck. “Okay,” I said.

Of course they fit like they had been made for me. Remembering the day before when I had caved at the silver shop and bought my gorgeous ring I realized this could become a habit. I mustered some latent sales resistance, handed the magnificent pants back to the attendant thanking her, and left. The next day I had plans that took me out of the village and into the countryside all day long. Once in awhile I’d find myself remembering the pants, but remotely. This morning their image was back with a vengeance. What exactly had they looked like? What mixture of colors were they again? Did they really fit as well as I thought they did? I suddenly realized I hadn’t even asked the price.

I waited patiently for 10:00 when most of retail Bali wakes up, then strode with single-minded purpose to the shop, certain that my memory had glamorized them. I walked in. The attendant was on the phone. I went to the rack where they had been. Gone. My heart started pounding and my breathing became shallow. I slowly, deliberately made my way around the four racks in the store, searching. Nothing. The other pair was there in the window, a soft, blotchy, aqua and white pattern. Was that what mine had looked like? Why had I thought they were attractive?

The attendant finally finished her call. I pointed to the blah aqua pants in the window. “Do you have more?” I asked. She turned around and reached for something on a shelf behind her. My heart stopped. There they were! Stunning! Even more beautiful than I remembered. I didn’t want to appear too eager and lose a negotiating edge but my hands were shaking. “I would like to try.” I thought surely they couldn’t have fit as well as I remembered, determined to find some fatal flaw. The attendant pointed to the aqua pair. “You try those,” she said. “No, I try these,” I replied, scooping them up and ducking behind the curtain. I pulled them on paying much closer attention this time to the way they hung, clung, and draped. At that moment I knew, come what may, I was not leaving without those pants.

I took them to the counter. “How much,” I asked. “Not sell,” she said, “You buy those.” She pointed again at the boring aqua. What was I missing here? She must know my preference. “I like these,” I said, not caring about my edge anymore. I just WANTED THOSE PANTS! “No sell,” she said again. I couldn’t believe it. “But I tried them on before and I came back to buy!” Now I was desperate. “You try before?” she asked as if somehow that made a difference. “Yes, how much?” She looked concerned and then said, “One moment,” and again picked up the phone. I was probably holding my breath as a heated Balinese conversation ensued. Then it was over. “Yes, okay for you,” and she quoted the price. The numbers with all those zeros initially took my breath away. Then I did the conversion math and color returned to my cheeks. I started to bargain but had barely gotten the words out of my mouth and she stopped me cold. “Fixed price,” she said. “Okay,” I squeaked and forked over the bills.

I left the shop on a blissful high, lightheaded with success. My feet skimmed the earth. My heart fluttered in my chest. Is this what its like for most women all the time I wondered and felt instant empathy. When I got back to my room I tried them on again, twirling, swooping, posing for myself in the mirror. Oh they are beautiful, so beautiful! For a tenth of a second I see myself, a flower child in the 60’s, young, rebellious, in billowing, bell-bottom tie-dyed pants. Was this purchase and the accompanying sensation somehow connected? Well, maybe, but so what? I’m at sort of the same place in life as I was then, just several decades later.

Photo from

I read a quote awhile ago that has stuck with me. It was about spending money, and the advice was this: Spend as little as possible on what you need, even less on what you want, but never pass up something you love. I love my pants!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon Henderson
    May 06, 2012 @ 11:14:46

    Do you have a photo of the fabric ?



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