You can see a lot when you’re standing over the Cosmetics Department in Bloomingdales. I was a good 12 feet above the crowds fixing a broken Christmas tree precariously perched on one of the center cabinets. It was ready to fall on the clerks below so they called the Visual Department to have one of us fix it and I was the lucky one.
It took one tiny adjustment on the leg to help the tree stand sturdy again and seeing I had nowhere else to go, I sat up there taking in the view. After a month of nights spent decorating the store after closing, the Visual Crew was on hand during regular store hours to clean, fix and keep the displays in good shape. No creative talent necessary, which was fine with me.
The store was packed! Christmas was in full swing with just two weeks to go but I was already over the holiday. I’d spent 45 nights hanging garland and decorating trees and all I wanted was to escape to my quiet, unadorned apartment and never see another piece of holiday greenery again. But people watching has always been my thing and watching them shop at Bloomingdales during the holidays was a real, life lesson in human behavior. I had a front row seat to observe what we’re all capable of when we have too much money and no idea how to use it.
Below me on the right, two women in fur coats holding Tiffany bags looked unhappy. “I spent over $500,” one said to the clerk, “Don’t I get two free gifts?”
On the left, a husband and wife were deciding on what would be the best Fendi handbag for him to gift her. “I need more room for my wallet,” the wife was saying. “Why don’t they have a better selection? Do we have to go to Nieman’s?”
Suddenly a few children, all under 10, were running away from their nanny as she tried to navigate thru the aisle rolling an empty stroller. They were oblivious to her calls and probably heading for the 5th floor that held all the bedding displays. I knew in ten minutes, I’d be getting a page to head up there. Kids and even some adults loved to lay on those beds, dirty shoes and all and roll around on them. It was up to the Visual Crew to keep them clean and made.
I can’t even count how many beds I changed in a day and I hate to admit I have no idea what happened to the dirty sheets after changing them. I’m hoping they were washed and donated, but I doubt it.
My Visual experience at Bloomingdale’s made me loath the holidays. I saw the ugly side of people who had too much money and not enough love in their lives. I’m sure there were some stable, humble shoppers among them, but at the time I felt surrounded by people who believed all the stuff in that store could make them happy; seeing that behavior changed me forever.
Yeah, I know. Most of us get tired of hearing them year after year, but thankfully, what I was watching didn’t match what I was hearing.
Singers telling us to show good will towards others and feed the hungry were my salvation. They made me less cynical and saved my spirit.
Still, sometimes they felt ironic. Like Bruce Springsteen telling us Santa Clause was coming to town when all I could think was most of these people didn’t need his help… All most of them needed was a reality check and a little perspective.
I wanted to make an announcement to all those shoppers below that life and this holiday wasn’t about buying expensive stuff, but more about giving the money spent on it to those who could use it.
My gig at Bloomies was a long time ago. I’d like to think people have evolved since then, but after learning Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales broke records this year, I’m beginning to wonder. Consumerism isn’t dead after all. ‘Course, I can’t put all the blame on the shoppers…
Retailers are still pushing us to buy more stuff and even MAJAMAS EARTH got caught up in it. We were afraid if we didn’t offer any deals on our site, we’d be overlooked and ignored. It’s a fine line to walk as a retailer making responsibly-made, ethical fashion.
The bottom line is none of us needs MORE useless stuff. What we should be doing is purchasing the RIGHT stuff. Stuff made by companies that care about our well being and the planet. I mean without little guys like us who care about our impact, we’ll be left with no choice but to support the big guys doing all the damage.
So with a little help from some talented musicians, I’m here to ground you. DOWNLOAD OUR HOLIDAY PLAYLIST and the next time you’re feeling like you need to impress a friend with an expensive gift, listen to the song, “Do they Know It’s Christmas” and make a donation to your local food pantry in their name instead.
Don’t want to show up empty handed? Listen to “My Favorite Things” by John Legend and keep it simple. Purchase ethically made clothing by MAJAMAS EARTH or other responsibly made products endorsed by DoneGood.co.
Stop consuming and start supporting the companies doing things right. Without sales, little guys operating locally and running their business responsibly can’t survive. The only way to change the world is to keep companies like ours alive and prospering. Supporting them is the best gift for those companies and an even better gift for those on your list.
I’m still not a fan of holiday decorating. It could have been all that midnight tree dressing that squashed my spirit, but I think it was that all-important lesson I learned while doing it…
Having more stuff won’t make us happy. It’s good friends and a loving family that give our lives value and sometimes it just takes a good song to help us remember that.
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Let ME know:
What seasonal songs get you in the Holiday spirit?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!