Anthro to Wayfair by
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Anthropology online catalog.

We continue to get lots of catalogs these days, enticing us to buy everything from fancy cruises to kitchenware to clothing. The deforestation caused by these is disheartening. Being so small, it is difficult for me to shop from a catalog, but I do have tried-and-true brands that suit me well.

Through the years, I’ve bought all my bathing suits from the Land’s End catalog. I have this style in multiple colors. I like the fit and it doesn’t fall off my narrow shoulders.

Land’s End bathing suit

Lots of stores where we do business will send us catalogs announcing sales, like Bloomingdales, which has a brick and mortar store around the corner from us, but may not have everything listed in the catalog. But this will entice me to go check things out.

Sometimes, I’ve never heard of the outfit sending us the catalog. It quickly gets tossed.


Dan looks at all the fancy trips and cruise offers, since we’ve done business with a few of these companies before. Given the current state of our finances (along with everyone else’s), we are not likely to splurge on anything like these in the short term, so they, also, are quickly tossed, as are all the home goods catalogs.

I have a brick and mortar Anthropologie a mile from me and like to try things on before I buy, but when on Martha’s Vineyard, that isn’t possible, so I am more apt to catalog shop when on Martha’s Vineyard.

Amazon has become our go-to spot for everything while on Martha’s Vineyard because there is such limited local inventory, whether it be replacement magnets for the shutters on our windows, printer ink, or any other item one might think of. Rents are very high and more and more interesting stores are going out of business. They can’t afford their rent, or sadly, their landlords are greedy and want to turn the stores into housing, thinking they will get more money from the constant shuffle of tourists than from their long-time tenants. That puts the whole local economy into turmoil and we have to look elsewhere for everything. Unfortunately, frequently, it means browsing Amazon for what we need. Those smiley-faced boxes clog up our trash, but bring everything from shoes to books to bedding to kitchenware. Amazon has become America’s marketplace, like the Sear’s catalog of yesteryear.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: been there, funny, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Interesting story, Betsy. I would love to see the comparison between men and women in terms of buying their clothes online or catalogue., as I think women are more interested in fit and look — i.e., going to stores and carefully trying clothing on — and men in convenience –i.e., “Just let me get the damn thing without having to go out shopping. ” That said, you look great in that Land’s End suit!

    Ironically, when I was working, I had the best of both worlds. There was a very good upscale men’s clothing company that I had heard about from other lawyers and their rep (invariably an attractive, well dressed and affable man or woman) would schedule visits to your office a few times a year and, having once taken your measurements, show you styles and samples for you to order from. If you stayed about the same size, you wouldn’t even have to have new measurements taken. And then, a few weeks later, custom-made suits and/or shirts would magically — albeit not inexpensively — appear in your office.

    We have relatives on Martha’s Vineyard and they also lament the inability to do much “regular” shopping there, so they, too, deal with Amazon a lot. However, as I’m sure you know, you can forget about Amazon’s usual prompt delivery abilities when it comes to MV. The orders often take much longer to “get on the ferry.”

    And yes; too damn many catalogues. We need to ask Suzy how she made all of hers magically disappear.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Having custom-made clothing seems like a dream, John. I understand that wouldn’t be inexpensive, but what a convenience and you could be assured of quality and fit! My problem is that I am so petite, so not really a standard size (and women’s sizes keep changing as the population at large gets larger). I remember some years ago after taking off a fair amount of weight that I needed some new shorts and went looking at the end of the season during the sales. I was always a size 4, so began there. Nope. Size 2, no…size 0 (I had never seen a size 0 before). I began to think that I didn’t exist! So that is my problem with catalog shopping.

      • John Shutkin says:

        I’ve never been accused of being petite, but have a petite wife and one of my daughters also, so do understand the difficulty. But I managed to go up and down in weight enough over the years to keep the sales rep/tailor busy. He/she would always ask me in advance of appointments if I thought I might need “a new measurement.” That was a nice way of asking if I’d pigged out lately.

  2. Yes indeed Betsy, Amazon has become something we all can’t seem to live without, and since Covid those tell-tale boxes seem to arrive daily!

    Sorry to hear about the economic turmoil on your idyllic Vineyard, but it obviously is a reality you must deal with.
    And let’s all vote early!

  3. Marian says:

    Too bad about what’s happening to the stores on MV, Betsy. We have an Anthropologie about 15 minutes away, but the huge shopping mall is so manic that I don’t like to go there, despite the Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and the like. I have ordered medical supplies, beautiful bedsheets, and all sorts of items from Amazon, which has saved me during Covid. My mom is petite but not as small as you, and she has had reasonably good luck with Land’s End.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Seems like no one has been immune from the catalog onslaught, or changing options over time. Finding something that works can be a problem, especially if not some standard size—John’s solution of getting it tailor-made does sound like a dream.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I agree, Khati. John’s solution does seem ideal! I remember when I was about 12+ and being invited to bar mitzvah parties, my mother couldn’t find an appropriate dress to fit me. She called in a seamstress to make a dress for me, patterned on an old one that I liked, but had outgrown. I wore that dress to every nice occasion for a year. I had forgotten that until this moment. Thanks for bringing back that memory!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    You are so right about Amazon having become America’s marketplace. The pandemic put the evolution away from brick and mortar to online into warp speed. I doubt we will ever fully recover. So many small stores in my community have closed.

  6. Some of the sentiments you express make me think that “Small business” would make a good prompt; what you mentioned about how the interesting shops are being forced out, since the properties could become more lucrative by housing tourists. There are other reasons for the decimation of small shops that give our towns and cities more character (Bennington, VT., has recently lost BOTH of its shoe repair shops as the owners have aged out, and ain’t nobody comin’ back to run that business!). Anyway, thanks for an interesting discursive commentary on this week’s topic.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Nobody wanting to take over the work (like the shoe repair in Bennington) is another problem, but one that can’t be replaced by a catalog, Dale. But being priced out of their lease is a big problem in resort towns.

  7. Risa Nye says:

    As a little girl, I loved looking through the catalogs that arrived in the mail. I remember my mother ordered lookalike dresses for my sister and me–that arrived with matching straw hats! I have a picture somewhere. It is sad that the MV stores are suffering and Bezos benefits, but that’s the way it is! I also order swim suits online–takes the agony out of trying them on in front of a three-way mirror!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I love the image of you and your sister in those matching dresses and straw hats, Risa. Priceless! I agree about saving the agony of looking at oneself in a bathing suit in those wrap-around mirrors. Buying jeans is another one of my “most hated” experiences, but I can’t do that from a catalog. I’ve found one good store in Newton that I count on for that item.

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