Aug 30, 2010

Everything old is new again?

Recently, my mother-in-law regaled us with stories about a rolling store, a peddler in a converted bus that traveled through rural areas, bringing staples and what-nots to those living in remote areas.  With a twinkle in her eye she sheepishly bragged that she was a little miserly  with the gum she was able to buy from that rolling store, only giving half a piece to classmates who asked her to share.  Times were tough and money was scarce; I'm sure she didn't get "gum money" very often, so it was a precious commodity on the playground.

Back when personal transportation was extremely limited, mail order was another way to obtain things you needed or wanted but couldn't get locally.  My grandparents' generation treasured the Sears-Roebuck catalogs (and recycled them when rolled toilet paper was a luxury few could indulge in.)
1966: Bet I had this dogeared
As a child, I remember anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sears Wishbook catalog each fall, poring over it to make a list for Santa.  It mattered little if I got any of the specific items I picked was indeed a book for inspiring wishes and dreams.

With our first home, I fearlessly forayed into gardening.  But I quickly realized the local stores' selection of plants and seeds was pretty limited.  So I visited the Tulsa Garden Center Library and jotted down addresses to send away for catalogs.  Ever since, I have been rewarded with a steady stream of gardening catalogs in my mailbox. Like the old wish books, they're filled with photos and tantalizing descriptions that inspire hopes and dreams, especially in the dead of winter.

When we prepared to move into this home, one of the first to-do's involved removing old carpet and replacing it with hard flooring.  I had researched hard wood vs. laminate, and given our budget and age of kids, I opted for laminate flooring.

The only sources of laminate available were flooring showrooms and big box stores with a limited selection of pricey laminate.  And...I had the Internet.  My husband's family thought I was crazy, but I happily hopped online and ordered hundreds of square feet of discount flooring, going on nothing more than a description and a website picture.  I'm happy to report that ten years later, the floors have withstood traffic from skidding kids, cats, dogs and daily living, and look great.   If you think that my purchase was crazy, let me introduce you to my better half, who has bought BMWs and a hot tub on eBay!

Ten years later, I still love ordering stuff, and it keeps getting easier.  Boxes with books, plants, dishes, purses, pots and pans show up on my doorstep.  The mail carrier might wonder what I do with all that stuff from Oriental Trading.   (I teach 3rd grade Bible class - do you really need more explanation than that?)  This method of buying is really nothing new; the concept is at least as old as those old mail order catalogs and peddling buses.  It's just a little easier nowadays to search to the ends of the earth for what your heart desires and have it delivered right to your door.