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What do you do?

Many months ago, I was out in the small, cute, boutique- and retail-laden little town of Historic Ellicott City. I needed to (wanted to) get a new journal. As both this historic town and the nearby mall were about the same distance. I opted for the cute, charming and historic retail environment over the bland, same-same-everywhere mall and off I went.

After walking around a bit, I popped into a charming little store and bought what I thought was a kinda-pricey journal, but I liked the coptic binding and the size, and the journal had a nice, almost-handmade-feel to it. The journal was about $35 (like I said, a little pricey) plus tax, but I thought it was worth it. I was getting something small-shop-manufactured (I assumed) and something of better quality than the many made-in-China journals.

I understand small shops don’t have the same bulk purchasing power an online shop might have, I understand overhead of a physical store can add up, and, well, I was shopping in a cute little historic town that lived off visitors who wanted to stroll the quaint historic town and by cute little things. I needed to adjust my price expectations. It wasn’t like I was at Costco or shopping at Amazon with high volumes and low margins.

Plus, I specifically wanted to start journaling right away and didn’t feel like tromping around to multiple stores, nor waiting for an Amazon delivery. I liked the journal well enough, paid the $35 and walked out with a cute paper bag with a raffia handle and my new journal tucked in it.

The binding cracked right away. Within a day or two of use.

I thought of contacting the store to complain, or to inform them the quality of said product was but so-so, then I said to myself, “Whatever.”

Other than realizing the coptic binding doesn’t respond well to a pen stuck in its pages while the journal is closed, it has turned out to be a favorite of mine. I like the page size, the way the pages lay flat, how the binding allows me to write farther into the end margins, plus the quirky cover is cute.


Journaling rapidly, I soon needed another journal as my $35-cute-charming-store one was getting full, but I didn’t want to “go shopping” and was, frankly, hoping to get something a little less expensive this time around. I found, of course, a slew of same-size journals on Amazon, but it was the binding I really liked.

I poked around, saw one that looked quite similar to my first journal and seemed an appropriate “next chapter” in my journaling journeys, so I ordered it. It was $15, plus tax.

When it arrived, I noticed how remarkably similar the $35, small-store purchase and the $15 Amazon-purchase seemed. Curious, I flipped both journals over and saw the same exact logo on both of them.


I had paid $35 to buy the same exact journal I could get online for $15.

Such an odd world we live in now regarding retail. I mean, humans like their in-person, bricks-and-mortar shopping experiences, and retail centers are so much more than “just” shopping experiences–all those cute coffee shops, corner restaurants and charming little stores in that cute, charming historic town … I mean, they need their income, too, right?

This coptic journal in this specific size has turned out to be my favorite for now, and I’m on at least my seventh or eighth by now, though–truth be told: I’d much rather pay $15 than $35 for the same item …. especially when the cheaper one comes to my door a day or two later, and I don’t have to run any errands to get it.

I mean, who wouldn’t rather pay $15 for a $35 item … and get it delivered?

It’s also true the $35 in-person purchase–where I could see and touch the journal–is what opened my eyes to this product. I don’t know if I would have found the same journal on line because I wasn’t looking for something like the one I’ve come to like, but once I saw it, I knew: Yes, that one. So there’s a plus for retail, in-person shopping there.

It’s a weird world in the realm of online vs. in-person shopping.