The 10 Types of Holiday Shoppers You Meet in Houston

Categories: Random Ephemera
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
No. 63, Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich & Cafe
5. The Wrapper Territory Marker: We eat a lot in Houston, and between the host of diverse restaurants and food trucks all tastes can be sated. There is a brand of foodie here that can't stop to eat, though. Not when there are bargains to be had. So they pick up whatever exotic fare they want to indulge in, eat it in the car, and ask the cashier who attends them to throw it away for them. This has the double purpose of signaling to other that the shopper has singular taste, while also scent-marking the store with the hint of the food's origin.

4. The English Aggressor: The diversity of Houston is second to none in the United States, but that diversity is not always celebrated by all its inhabitants. Testy men with vague xenophobic anxieties are quick to pounce on any perceived accent or language barrier from a clerk as proof of invading hordes ruining America... and on Jesus' birthday at that. Requests for an "American" manager are common mating calls for this thankfully declining species of bigot.

3. The Professional Christmas Shopper: Houston's got a lot of money, and living here is cheap. That means that there are more than a few folks who live quite well in single-income households, and that leaves them with plenty of time do Christmas in a way you or I never will able to. Up and down Shepherd and Kirby you'll see an endless parade of Earth-tone SUVs festooned with reindeer horns blaring that Faith Hill Christmas album handing out tidings of joy and good cheer sincerely wherever they go... yes, I'm aware I'm a bitter and petty little troll.

2. The Reluctant Local Buyer: Last year a law was passed requiring Texas residents to pay sales tax on online purchases from places like Amazon, and the resulting gnashing of teeth could be heard from sea to shining sea. Formerly this group would inhabit a store briefly for shopping ideas, and then run home to Amazon to get it at a discount. Now there is usually juuuuust enough tax being applied that they actually buy things and grumble throughout the purchase about liberal taxocrats... an ironic point in Texas I'll just leave right here.

1. The True Southern Hospitalier: There exists a one-of-a-kind person in Houston who is as wonderful to behold as it is rare. This shopper embodies true Old South manners in every transaction, but he tempers it with the modern Houstonian's acceptance of every race, religion, creed, and heritage. You'll see them saying please and thank you to the cashiers, accepting all holiday greetings with sincere thanks, complimenting everyone they meet no matter how briefly with some kind remark on their dress or personality, and they never let a Salvation Army bucket go without a few coins at least. They are ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, and you act a fool to the staff in their presence at your own peril. They are fearsome when roused.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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I like number 10.

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