My online shopping experience is sparse and mainly confined to buying second-hand books on Amazon. They cost absolutely nothing if you exclude the slightly inflated postage fee. I sometimes question my ethical behaviour but as a book lover, that’s how I manage to stretch my discretionary spending throughout the month. Now you’re probably thinking I’m making a poor case for myself, if only I were to look into the future of reading as a cost-effective solution? Oh yes, the Kindle or the E-reader; I remember the day when my friend turned up with one of those. I poked it gingerly before turning questioning eyes on its owner. When he turned it on and put it through its paces, he looked as happy as a kid in a candy store while I recoiled slightly in my chair. I gave it a fair go but I was missing the smell of old paperback and the sensation of my fingers turning pages. Still, when I explain that I’m unwilling to spend fifty pounds or more on a gadget, I’m made to feel like I’m letting someone or something down. Perhaps progress itself? I know of a few people who find the idea of paying for music, films and books preposterous but who would unquestionably part with large sums of money for technology. It’s debatable; perhaps I like to hold onto traditions, perhaps I would miss that “sensory offload” if I were to substitute the gradual unfolding of paper for an electronic device.
That may explain why I enjoy sewing where the visual-tactile interaction plays an important part in selecting the right fabric. The tactile experience is no longer present when you buy online and colour distortion can be an issue on computer screens. But there are ways to go around it and I found that a few online stores will let you order swatches for free or a nominal charge. Then, of course, there’s the convenience of choosing from a huge range of fabrics in the comfort of your own home. Have you tried doing this on eBay before? It’s daunting! Even when using the search categories, you’re still likely to scroll through hundreds if not thousands of fabrics. You can’t beat the variety of choices but you can’t always predict how the fabric will behave or drape in person.
Buying fabrics online is a great convenience that will never replace the satisfaction of shopping in a well-stocked fabric store. Still, that didn’t stop me from taking the plunge last week and ordering that gorgeous Italian shirting fabric on eBay.
But what did I receive instead? This…
Now if that’s not a major let-down, I don’t know what else is. I’ve since contacted the seller who assured me I wasn’t a case of optical delusion and the correct order was now safely on its way. I was also told to keep those 2 metres of fabric as a gesture of apology. I certainly wouldn’t call it a lottery prize but if I could find a use to it, I’d be pretty sold on the unsung perks on online shopping!