Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Inside the Box

To my knowledge, Toronto does not contain a Container Store per se. The city does contain a Solutions Store, which solves the problem of not having a Container Store. That problem being a lack of containers, or as some would corporately put it, “organizational tools.” In my mind, however, one using said term is merely describing oneself.

I like lists. I am organized. I have stuff (even George Carlin–type stuff) which is, nine times out of ten, tidily available when I need it. My records are alphabetized as are my books (which are also split into fiction, non-fiction, music, reference, and cooking). People call me anal. Yet I am often the person to whom these people ask about things because I can find the solutions.

These solutions can be found without a large bill from a store purporting to sell me them. I’ve been in the Solutions Store, but alas, I find more problems than solutions. Why do I need pretty empty boxes? More to the point, why do I need stuff to put in those boxes? Perhaps this reflects more on consumerist mentality than it does on the need to be organized in order that information be found.

I admit that as I write this, I’m thinking that I really ought to replace the magazine boxes that house my periodicals. Note, however, that I’m replacing and not adding to a situation based on current and projected needs: Magnet and The Believer are keepers. I have also made notes in them as to the music I want to hear, movies I want to see, and the books I want to read. This marked information makes it on to one or more of my lists.

Buddhism, simplicity, and basics (the idea not the store) wind their ways into mainstream consciousness, and all are valuable concepts. And all have been “leveraged” into marketable commodities—mats, clothes, bags, books, classes, television shows, magazines—flying in the face in the original premise that they share: minimalism, use your resources and make do with what you have. Indeed, why add to your stuff if you cannot handle the stuff you have? For example, how badly do you need a new garlic press when a knife will do? If it’s good enough for Anthony Bourdain, when it’s good enough for me.

On reflection, that last paragraph seems out of place in a essay/rant about a store that sells storage. Hell, I rented my current apartment based on its glorious storage. I kept the original packaging for my computer and other large, expensive items, and it all needs to be stored. It’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle, and it didn’t cost extra dimes.

Sure I participate as a consumer, but I know when I’m full. And I don’t get all friggin’ anxiety ridden about not having the latest so-handy, purse-sized, pretty-pink, empty box. For one, that anxiety feeds a related market that deserves its very own rant. And two, there are enough “empty boxes” walking around; I’m not in that demographic.

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