Sucked into consumerism

I never liked shopping. For me, shopping had always been this tedious process of hopping between shops, trying on clothes, negotiating with vendors (in some cases) and in many instances being hit on by some low-life sleazeballs in the process (especially when wandering the streets of Sweifieh). I always dreaded upcoming shopping trips. And, almost always, I had to have a companion with me to console me, giving me words of encouragement to help me through this challenging process. In many cases that companion was my sister, Tania, the fashion expert. Then, after I got married, my shopping escort became my husband, who naturally has more tolerance than me for this tiring procedure.

But now, as we are living in the center of capitalism, things have changed drastically. To my utter and complete surprise I’m loving the whole idea of the shopping spree. I mean how can you not love it with all the great deals that are put in front of you? I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I first went shopping here. I could actually afford buying brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren among others.

How could you not love shopping here when you get up to a 70% discount on some of the most beautiful items you ever laid eyes on? Words like capitalism and consumerism really did not mean much to me before coming here. Now I understand. It is all about satisfying the consumer so the country’s economic gears keep churning. But really, give me a break. How can you not be an ardent consumer here with all the mind-boggling deals? Yes, I’m being sucked into it. But can I really help it? I’m a new immigrant after all.

On the other hand, seeing all of these great deals is making me somehow angry … angry at all the time and loads of money I spent back in Jordan on mediocre products simply because I had no other alternative. Why is it in Jordan, where the minimum salary is 85 JD (about $119 US dollars) a month, people have to pay double — even triple — the price for the same products you find here. It is just so unfair. Think of it: Besides all of the political instability, social pressure and economic stagnation, the Jordanian consumer is always screwed. Okay, I’m very angry now. Gotta go do some shopping.

9 thoughts on “Sucked into consumerism”

  1. Meh! Welcome to the US. You just have to be smarter than the system and not let it suck you into it.
    As for why people in Jordan pay much more…it is a whole other dimension of globalization. Getting started on that will take too long now.

  2. Let me throw some thoughts of what I have learned in the past ten years in America. Coming from a limited and small – income country direct to the US, first you as Jordanian maintain a high motivation to save; but spend wisely and moderately. Good deals, bargains, using coupons…etc; and above all, you follow the well-known formula; buy what you need, not what you want. Gradually though, you will feel safer and safer to spending more and your mind set starts to switch from the well-known saying “Khabbi girshak il abyad, layoomak il aswad” into the other extreme well-known saying ” Osrof ma bil jabe, ya2teeka ma fil ghabe”. Responsibilities, commitments and trust in the job security feeling make you go ahead and start the huge expenditures. Avoid credit cards as much as you can; once you are hooked up to spending what you don’t have in anticipation of payinig off your debts, you got yourself in a big trouble. Do not go there. Best investments though are; 1. Satisfaction of what you have, 2. Always save ( a dollar saved, is a dollar gained), 3. Buy a house at the appropriate time.

  3. Excellent tips Jareer. I’m doing my best to keep her in check 😉 We are following that line pretty clearly. After all she’s got the urge in one hand and me the “savvy capitalist consumer” in the other 😉
    But her point with Jordan has always struck me. I remember finding out about the presence of factories making Vicky’s Secret and Land’s End in Jordan. We actually discussed this once before on this blog. I couldn’t imagine that they’d not let Jordanians touch that stuff…not even the “imperfects”. Instead they’d ship it stateside, let it go through “the process” only to return to the kingdom selling for four and five times more than it should.
    On the same tip, I never understood how a company like Microsoft could justify bringing the hammer down on Jordan about piracy when people were forced to spend this monster sum on their product. American consumers could afford it sure, so a hammer might be merited. But the hammer in the developing world is madness and they know it. It is like they are trying to condition the proletariat. They could and should just lower the prices to REFLECT the actual incomes of the people. But that principle has never held.

  4. The US doesn’t have the kind of taxes other countries have…we do not tax stuff two or three times before it hits the consumer. The value of the dollar makes it inexpensive to import but expensive to export which is not good.
    We have the world’s most efficient distribution system..

  5. Hey Jareer, you sound just like my husband! I agree, excellent advice. Two American entertainment venues to avoid: recreational shopping and recreational eating.
    I also don’t get how companies don’t adjust prices to reflect incomes. It works that way with fabric and embroidery thread I buy in Jordan…it’s cheaper here than in Germany.
    Natasha, I heard from Zeinab that Ustaz Mohammed forget to give you your Za’ter in NYC! Shall I send you some when (if, tickets unconfirmed)we go to the US next week?

  6. Oh natasha habibti. Do not fall intot his trap. Here is a trick I used when I first Started getting over this disease: when there is something you pick up at a store that you want to purchase because you “THINK” you need it, put it down and wait til the next day. When you wake up in the morning, and find you are happy without that product, well then, you never needed it in the first place.
    I suggest you read “What should i do if reverend billy is in my store?” by Bill Talen. You will happy you read it. Its a fun read.
    and oh yeah, didnt that link about wal mart make you think about something?

  7. Wli, I’m glad to here shopping isn’t a pain anymore and I think after all the years you spent agonizing over it, you should enjoy it now.

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