window shopping

The Enjoyment of Window Shopping

Some store displays make window shopping a uniquely rich and rewarding experience, without having to spend a penny. 

What Makes Window Shopping So Special?

The excitement of shopping is just as much about the experience of looking at what is available and how it is displayed.

Seeing brand new beautiful clothing, toys, books and more showcased with the perfect lighting and arrangement is actually a joyful and uplifting experience.

You don’t even have to swipe the credit card to get this great feeling. According to Tara Parker-Pope in the Wall Street Journal, studies of the brain showed that people received a surge of dopamine from the shopping experience before a sale.

So window shopping can provide the same good feelings as making the actual purchase. There are indeed some stores and even whole blocks of stores that take the window shopping experience to a whole new level! 

Where it all Began

The window shopping concept began with the development of plate glass. Kunle Campbell tells us in Big Commerce that in the late 19th century, plate glass was more widely available. Retailers began installing it across their storefronts to display merchandise. People were so fascinated by the unique displays that they would gather on the streets to watch.

Macy’s in New York City was one of the first to put up these window displays in 1874. This quickly caught-on as an effective marketing practice and spread across the country and eventually across the world. 

Window Shopping Experiences

When in New York City, the opportunities to see grand store displays are plentiful. Even in a world that is going increasingly to online sales, there is still a place for retail, and they are doubling down on the window shoppers!

In New York City there’s the obvious Times Square where you’ll find enough visual stimulation for an entire lifetime!

But the streets are so crowded, it may be hard to casually wander. Head over to SoHo where you can learn a lot while looking around. SoHo is known for hipsters and cutting edge hipster fashion. Browsing the windows of the shops may give you some cutting edge ideas for what’s cool.

In Chicago, the famous Magnificent Mile gives visitors some of the best window shopping in the world! You don’t have to spend a penny to walk up and down historic Michigan Avenue. 

Small Town? No Problem! 

You don’t have to be in a big city to find some great window shopping experiences. Boutique stores are in cities and towns all over the country. They have experienced a surge in recent years largely because of those that love the experience that comes from shopping.

As Ashley Alderson writes in Forbes, shopping is a very different experience than just buying. Boutiques are great places to window shop because it’s a huge part of their business model!

In fact, wandering in and out of boutiques in smaller communities can provide for some great window shopping, just as if you were in the big cities.   

During the Holidays

Window shopping (and actual shopping) are at their finest during the holiday season. Wandering Chicago’s Magnificent Mile or looking at Macy’s in New York City during the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a very rewarding experience.

It’s very hard not to feel some joy when you see the brilliance of the decoration and the attention to detail given to making the displays come to life. Everything seems to pop a little more and feel a little fresher during the holiday season. Window shopping is a great way to spend a few hours to brighten your day. 

The excitement you feel from window shopping is very special and uniquely personal. Everyone feels something different, but the experience yields the same activity of your brain’s reward center for everyone.

So take some time and wander around looking at what’s out there. You never know what you’ll see!