Well, I held out as long as I could folks – I finally tried online shopping in 2018. Now, I think it’s best to get a some facts out of the way first and foremost:

  • I’m not 90 years old
  • I do own a computer and a smartphone
  • I’m not paranoid about someone stealing my data
  • I am aware of the Internet
  • Yes, I really did try online shopping for the first time

Great, now I’ve mentioned those, we can get on with our lives (and on with the article).

Put simply, online shopping never appealed to me. It never made me this angry, it never made me afraid, and it never made me feel like I was missing out. I just didn’t want to buy clothing or accessories from a screen. I come from a textiles background in the sense that when I was a kid, I would watch my mother create incredible pieces of clothing out of (seemingly) nothing, and fix rips and tears like it was her job. Actually it was – she was a seamstress! I would help out when I could and when I was older, I would often mend my own clothing and sometimes knit my own items, be it a snug pair of socks or a nice woolly scarf (I will pass over the hundreds of awful things I created).

Clothing, to me, just seems so impersonal when it arrives in a box. I want to feel the fabric, hold it up to me and really wonder if this clothing is right for me before I buy it. In short, I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I want to make a connection with something that I wear before it earns a place in my (admittedly overcrowded) wardrobe.

Of course, I know that it’s not only clothing which has boomed online, but everything from Lego sets to bicycle seats to a vintage lamp. If it exists in the world, it can be sold online, it seems. But that’s exactly what I generally dislike about online shopping – I don’t want everything in the world. I want to pass by a store on a random street in my city, be amazed by a cute little item in the window, then rush in to buy it. I don’t want to see that same item online, price check it over 50 websites, put it in my online basket, then get cold feet and delete it. I would probably sit there with nothing but a feeling like I should tighten my purse strings and be a responsible adult by buying a gym membership and a smoothie maker. Quite frankly, I want to live spontaneously and be a little silly with my purchases now and then.

Furthermore, I dislike the idea of cultural homogenisation. I want to support local businesses, because they need to survive in this world as much as anyone. Without them, every street would be a Tesco, Starbucks, and an H&M – and that would be a shame, not because I particularly dislike those businesses, just that I want more diversity in this world. I love talking with the shop owner or assistant and getting their advice on something. They know things that I don’t and I need to use their knowledge and experience.

Do I still wear or use every single item that I’ve ever bought? Heck no. But that item still carries with it a memory of a time I had in real life, not that time when I was hunched over my laptop, as I do that enough as it is. If I can’t find it in a store near me, then c’est la vie, I can’t get it. Not having a new blouse or pair of sneakers won’t change my life. They are nice to have, but these things don’t define me.

So, tell us, where did you shop online if you hate it so much?

Well, we can’t all be superhumans, can we? I have my weaknesses and temptations as much as anyone, and Cubitts was where I gave in to online shopping. Like millions of people out there, I sadly have to wear glasses. My experience of trying on glasses at opticians across the country has been, dare I say it, generally terrible. Under the unwavering glare of the optician, I have to shuffle around the shop and pick out frames that I think won’t make me look like a total dork (not an easy task). I’ve always found this ordeal very annoying, as I would feel the building pressure from the employee just to pick a pair and get the heck out of there so they can deal with other customers.

I don’t like that experience. It makes me feel rushed and I don’t like to be rushed – you won’t like me when I’m rushed. I would get back home with my frames and found that they looked different in daylight compared to the harsh glare of the opticians, and different again to soft lighting at home. So, I tried out Cubitts because I heard about their home trial program, which means they sent me four pairs of frames, I tried them on in the home, outside, in a supermarket (literally anywhere you can think of) and I really got the chance to feel what they were about before deciding – something I could never do inside an opticians for 20 minutes.

Could this newfound online shopping affair start a flood of boxes appearing at my door in the not-too-distant-future? Unlikely, but I’m certainly up for trying out new sites one day. Etsy seems like my cup of tea, Overstock is interesting because I can find things way cheaper than usual, and Chrono24 looks cool because I can actually sell an old Patek Philippe watch I have lying around. I still want to hold onto the core of my shopping values, but I like the idea of occasionally using the Internet when the time is right.

Who knew that online shopping doesn’t have to be so bad after all?