Making Room in My Mind: A Year of No Shopping

Mina Samuels
5 min readJan 11, 2019

January 2019 is one week old and I haven’t shopped for more than a year now.
I just finished my annual challenge for 2018: no shopping for clothes, shoes, handbags or jewelry. Way back in April 2018, when I wrote about the experience at three months, I had a clean feeling, as if I’d cut something pleasurable, yet toxic, out of my diet. At six months, a fog had cleared after that initial detox and I was starting to get a look inside my shopping mind. By the time nine monthsrolled around, weeks might pass when I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t shopping.

I spent December, the final challenge month, in Paris, a city I go to often and where I always shop with great pleasure and, yes, I admit, abandon. This was the final test of my personal odyssey — Mina as Ulysses tied to the mast of her shopping ship so as not to succumb to the fatal call of the beautifully clothed Sirens. In reality, the buy-me-buy-me-and-me-too siren song played on mute and I was not tortured by an overwhelming desire to shop. That said, I didn’t throw myself in the way of temptation either. I circumnavigated my favourite shoe store (I could hear it singing anytime I was within two blocks), because I didn’t want to look-but-don’t-buy whatever new Laurence Dacade boots were on offer. What I miss most is not having the memory of Paris contained and made tangible by the items I buy.

The gold boots I bought in 2015 remind me of the macchiato I had with my partner and a friend who was visiting right before we went to the shoe store charged up on caffeine. And then the grocery shopping we did afterward, because it was American Thanksgiving and we were hosting a dinner. And the five times I had to run out for items we’d forgotten, up and down six flights of stairs wearing my new boots, which I was ostensibly testing out for comfort indoors before I committed 100% to their extravagance, but had now worn outdoors running errands, thus eliminating any possibility of returning them.

I have no 2018 item to remind me of our sojourn. On the other hand, I will remember the trip by the absence of tangible, boot-shaped containers for my memories.

In fact, as 2019 approached (and now, as it begins to unfold), dread of shopping dominates. What if once I open that door again, I can’t stop it from…

Mina Samuels

Writer. Performer. Citizen. Traveler. Enthusiast. Author of Run Like a Girl 365 Days A Year and other books.