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Do’s and Don’ts as You Re-Enter Stores

May 01, 2021

by Caron Blitz

Welcome to the Savvy Shopper column! As a 60+ Savvy Shopper living in Riverwoods, Caron Blitz gets what folks our age looks for in products and is always on the look-out for “fun finds” and the best values. For future columns, she’d love to hear what you, the Shopper, would like us to feature. If you are a retailer, let us know what special products and services you offer for older adults. Email: SavvyShopperColumn@gmail.com.

Trepidation. That is what many of us are feeling as we re-enter brick and mortar stores for the first time in a year or more. But, have no fear!

Consider these practical Do’s and Don’ts to ease your anxiety and enjoy the experience.

  • Ditch the big purse and wallet!
  • Less is more when it comes to keeping it easy and clean. The #1 shopping tool is using the right purse or eliminating unnecessary stuff if you’re only using pockets in pants and jackets.

#1 Tip: The Perfect Purse

Here are the requirements for the perfect shopping purse (some even convert to a hip bag):

  • Size matters. The lighter the better. Your back will thank you. 
  • Strap must be long enough to fit cross body to free up your arms and hands.
  • Outside pocket should be large enough to hold your phone. One of the biggest germ magnets is your phone. So, keep it accessible and away from other items so you are not fumbling for it while your arms are full.
  • Inside pockets are helpful to store ID, credit and medical cards, cash and checks.

For pocket carriers:

  • Ditch the wallet. Use a money clip for cash and carry only the essentials in separate pouches.
  • Try a belt bag or “fanny pack.” Yes, men too! The newest trend is to wear a fanny pack cross body. Find the right one for you in boutiques like Splurge in Northbrook and the Style Shack in Highland Park or Lululemon ($38 Travel/Commute Bag), Patagonia (Ultralight Pack for $29), CALPAK ($54), or Target for half the price.

Inside Essentials

Once you have the perfect carrier, here’s what to keep inside to optimize the space and weight:

  • Pen. Think about how many fingers have touched the ones in the store.
  • Stylus. These look like an ink pen but work on electronic screens like those used when checking out at groceries. You can find packs of stylus pens for less than $5 at office supply stores, Target and Walmart.
  • Small hand sanitizer bottle. If it doesn’t fit inside, buy one with a holder that clips on to your purse or pant loop.
  • Individual packets of wipes. From cleaning shipping cart handles to your own hands, carry a few packets as stores do not always provide them.
  • Anti-fog cloth for your glasses (retailers like Walgreens and Walmart) so you can see clearly while you’re wearing a mask.

What NOT to carry

  • Large wallets
  • Individual store credit cards (they can look up your account)
  • Coins. As we move away from using cash, we use fewer coins as they add weight to your purse or pockets.

Mask tips

Have you ever arrived at your shopping destination and realized your mask is on your kitchen counter? Avoid this frustration in the future by:

  • Keeping an extra mask or two in your purse or car’s glove box.
  • Using a mask necklace so you’re wearing your mask before you leave the house.
  • Also, de-fogging sprays and cloths help keep your eyeglasses clear while wearing your mask. And to store your masks, use XL sandwich baggies.

Above all, make sure you are wearing a quality mask that fits properly, stays over your nose, and is clean. Wash cloth masks often and toss disposable ones frequently. Costco masks are a good value.

Such a deal!

These local stores sell the shopping essentials mentioned above. If you cannot visit in-person, check their websites, or call and they’ll help you select the right products and even email photos and videos. 

Splurge, 847.498.2750, 2750 Dundee Road #5, Northbrook (In Dunbrook Shopping Center)

Mention NSSC to receive a 20% discount on regularly priced merchandise. Get a free hand sanitizer pouch and clip with any purchase. Large selection of masks custom-made to stay up. Free local home delivery and curbside pickup.

Style Shack, 847.579.4525, 1839 2nd St., Highland Park

Mention NSSC to receive $10 off a purchase of $75 or more. Free local delivery and curbside pickup.

K.Carroll, DSW, Kohl’s, Coach (and outlet), Kate Spade, Shinola

For Crossbody Purses and Fanny Packs

In addition to having shopping essentials, shopping will be easier and more enjoyable if you:

  • Space it out: Social distancing in stores will always be wise regardless of changing regulations. For example, when you’re in smaller stores like Trader Joe’s, stand aside when a shopper is reaching for a shelf product at the same time. What’s an extra second or two?
  • Avoid shopping on weekends. Check-out lines tend to be shorter on weekdays and with fewer shoppers and their families, it’s easier to navigate the aisles.
  • Arrange curbside pick-ups. From grocers like Sunset Foods, to Bed Bath & Beyond to boutiques, it’s a breeze when your purchases can be put right into your car.