When I was growing up, one of my favourite family outings was going to department stores. They were not frequent – maybe once a month or so – but always special. I got to dress up, have pricey things bought for me, enjoy fancy meals, and stay up late. I think what I liked most about these outings was being treated like a grown-up, both by the store staffs and my family… department stores were magical wonderlands to me.
I still go to department stores at about the same frequency and do much of same things I did then, but they are no longer magical wonderlands to me.
Maybe it is because I now am a real grown-up and I do the same things out of my own pocket… nothing magical about getting what I pay for!
Maybe it is because there now are many other options than department stores where some of the same things can be done much more readily and/or less expensively… the wonder of the land where a little of everything is available has lost out to that where a lot of just some things are available.
In other words, I have changed quite a bit from my childhood – I now live in the real world (well, mostly, anyway!) and I have actual needs that require practical solutions. But I do not think changes in me are the only reason department stores have lost their charm and glory.
Maybe it is because they did not change along me… they either stayed the same or changed to become something else, but neither matched my image of the magical wonderlands I would want to go to.
Would you say it is counterintuitive for me to want department stores to remain being magical wonderlands when I am looking for practical solutions for my actual needs in the real world? But to me, it is perfectly intuitively rational – they have been special, and I want them to stay special, just the way I remember them being… offering me places to go when I am tired of being in the real world, where I am treated like a grown-up I have always dreamed of becoming. I cannot explain it well, I just know I always arrive at this conclusion.
I have very fond memories of department stores and I still think very highly of them. I have faith that their goods, their services, and their networks can still build magical wonderlands where I lose all sense of time (and sense for money, much to my horror!). I would not like to see them fade away because they have become an outdated business model or an industry which has lost its competitive edge. I for one do not believe that jack-of-all-trades is necessarily master of none… there must still be a way left for them to become master of jack-of-all-trades.
Maybe it sounds like a riddle?
Well, then, maybe they ought to first ask themselves some intuitively rational questions, like these:
‘Who in the world am I?’
– Ah, that’s the great puzzle!
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
– That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
… just a couple from my other favourite childhood Wonderland, built by English writer L.C. I cannot explain it well, I just know they will guide the way in magical lands.