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Vail Valley: Manly shopping tips

Michael Kurz
Vail, CO, Colorado

Shopping the manly way

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Color me old school, but I really do have a hard time shopping on the Web.

There are a few things I’m cool with, things I know really well, like products I’ve used before. I like sites that show dimensions or specifications of things. I like iTunes, because I can sample what I’m buying before I commit. But there are a lot of things I just have to see and touch before I lay my money down. There’s really nothing to substitute for going into a store, getting your hands on something and knowing exactly what you’ve got.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have the normal man’s highly developed sense that an hour in a store seems like a day on a remote planet where you don’t speak the language, know the etiquette or rules. Plus, I have the attention span of a cocker spaniel puppy. So listening to any advice about what to buy turns to babble in my head after the fourth word. But I’ve actually discovered a way to make shopping work for me. Here are some good man-shopping rules:

Get fortified

Pick your poison. For me it’s a hearty lunch of Mexican food and a few tequilas, but I’m sure a couple of stiff bloody Marys, or a triple espresso, or a six-pack of Red Bulls, or a half dozen donuts will work as well. You will need energy and it may be cold outside, so don’t be shy. Whatever you do, don’t try to shop without fortification.

Ignore wish lists

Trying to find some esoteric item in a market this small will get frustrating fast. Use your imagination. Pick two or three establishments you think may work. As you enter each, make a pass through the entire store so you get a general impression of what they sell there and get a feel for the price of things.

Don’t let anyone help you until you know in general if your recipient will be happy with a gift from that establishment. You’ll find some interesting things – like stores that have outerwear don’t also have innerwear. They call that underwear and it’s probably best to stay away from that unless it’s warm and long and it goes beneath ski clothes.

Also, don’t ever attempt to shop for lingerie. You’ll need months of therapy to recover – you can never look a female clerk in the eye and you’re significant other won’t wear it anyway.

Find a sympathetic clerk

Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, find the clerk you think will have the most patience with you. Approach them. Look them straight in the eye. If they blink at your maleness, your slightly off-focus, bewildered gaze, the smell of an adult beverage on your breath or the way you’re dressed, ask them where the nearest bar is and leave. If they look sympathetic and understanding of your situation, proceed.

Tell them who you’re gifting and how much you want to spend. Then, let them lead the way. It’s really cool how well most of them know their stuff and what stuff will be right for your giftee.

Don’t forget to tell them about the person. Is the person athletic, an indoor type, tall, short, older, younger, bookish, adventurous, curious, social, whatever? The better the clerk understands the recipient, the more they can help – and the less thinking you’ll have to do.

Pay for wrapping

I’ve tried to go home and gift-wrap after shopping, but my nerves are too frayed so I have no patience for wrangling bows and strings and such. Besides, by the time I’m done and on the shuttle bus home, the tequila is starting to wear off and my head hurts. Gift wrapping means that you’ll be giving something pretty, even if the gift itself is unappreciated. If it’s really a pretty box and it sparkles it can offset at least somewhat, the disappointment inside. Don’t ask me why it works that way, but it does.

Save your receipts

For God’s sake man, save the receipt! I’m pretty good at this shopping thing but my failure rate is still about 25 percent. And, don’t throw away the shopping bag. It’s good for carrying the stuff back.

So, that’s it – five simple rules to leverage your success. Have a wonderful shopping experience and remember, keep it in the valley. It will make for a brighter season for us all.

Michael Kurz is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.


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