Downtown shopping 101

Friday, March 30, 2012    

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Hello family, friends and fans. Last week a male friend of mine purchased a T-shirt in one of those fabulous uptown designer boutiques and was proudly proclaiming to me that he got it on sale for $5,000.

He left our conversation rather elated as he looked forward to 'bashing' out in this five-grand shirt at an upcoming event drinking and having fun with his cronies. I on the other hand, having been raised by a no-nonsense no-frills lady called Mama Ruds, was still standing in the same spot with my mouth on the floor. Five grand! Five grand for one T-shirt, not a men's dress shirt, but a T-shirt.

That my dear people in a day of shopping downtown for me would have netted a top, a bottom, accessories, a wig and change would be left for the Portmore toll and a box lunch.

Don't get me wrong. His T-shirt was probably of a superior quality, with attention paid to detail etc, but realistically as party people who 'do road' as we say here in Jamaica, how many times do you plan to wear the shirt? I can attest to the fact that I will wear repeat an outfit, but with different wigs and change of accessories it looks like new. How many ways can you transform a shirt on a man? Not many. Social media has also increased the pressure on us 'repeaters', with the coverage of events being splattered all over the Internet so after a maximum of three wears on the party scene, it then becomes 'judging' clothes and eventually finds itself forgotten and discarded probably being used as a car buffer.

To each his own, and uptown store owners have every right to charge what they deem fit, since it is far more expensive to operate their business, shopping in air conditioned comfort with assistance and background music has a price tag.

My advice to people existing on a budget in these trying times is to explore your options. My friend obviously thought nothing of paying that amount for a shirt, but had he come downtown with me, he would have gotten a pair of jeans; three T-shirts and we would be having Chinese for lunch, two meats. The brands may be controversial but they look like the real thing.

Most of the people I hang with at parties are 'uptowners", they have never been introduced to downtown shopping and are often intimidated by the thought of trying. I'm not going to sugar coat it, shopping downtown is an experience, not for the faint of heart.

If you look too naïve, you may be overcharged, harassed, or even robbed. So here are some helpful tips to guide you through my world shopping in a downtown Kingston.

Walk. Drivers are perceived as having money, and step heavily and with purpose. Use your shoulders to bounce others while passing. Don't bathe and wear torn 'yard clothes'; if you can, try to stand close to weed smokers and get the scent on you. Wear an unapproachable scowl — 'ben up yuh face' and chew gum hard...a smile is an invitation. No tweeting or texting whilst walking, be very conscious of your surroundings. Get earphones and conceal that blackberry in your bag or pocket.

Loose the standard English, delve so deep in patios that you will need speech therapy to readjust. Always 'bawl' down the initial price. While walking talk aloud to yourself about bills and your problems . And lastly, make a sidewalk sit down every now and then and ask random people where the courthouse is located to give the impression you have a case. Trust me, follow these guidelines and the only people approaching you will be the police.

After a couple visits you will get seasoned and be able to look snazzy for a lot less. Have a great weekend folks. If you need an escort for your first trial e-mail me elvachatalot@yahoo.com or link up on Twitter @ElvaJamaica. Stay safe, love yourself and love your country.




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