The great gulf that separates a small town from a big city is vividly represented by the size and quality of their respective show windows. The gulf is absolutely unbridgeable. A resourceful small town dweller may get almost every article he wants from any part of the globe by mail-order. But the choice available to him is limited and in many cases an unenlightened or forced choice. He has no means of appreciating the differences in quality and finish of the articles displayed at the shop-window.
A skillfully maintained shop-window is a veritable window to the world of glamour. It is especially true of the readymade dresses of latest fashion. The dresses displayed on imaginatively made statues look ail the more eye-catching.
Who would not part with his or her hard earned money to acquire a beautiful dress which has adorned his or her favorite film-star in a recent movie with a stunning effect? Shop-windows have exercised such an irresistible pull over the lower middle classes that their homes exhibit a pitiable contrast between the quality of their wardrobe and the conditions of their furniture in dingy homes.
While they cannot mobilize sufficient funds for the upkeep of their homes, they must wear dresses of the latest fashion. Shop-windows revive our unconscious desires and create new desires where none existed before. In the mechanical routine of eating staid food at our homes day in and day out, we might have forgotten that we never had a sweet tooth. But a chance stroll in the Bengali Market New Delhi and an accidental glance at the display-window of a sweet-shop revive the irresistible charm of “Rosogullas”.
Then for weeks on end we start taking rosogullas invariably with our evening meal. A young girl sees the hot-pant displayed on the window of a garment shop and falls for it immediately as it is the same pant as was worn by Shilpa Shetty in the super- hit film “Bazigar”. This may be the first time in her life when she is ready to wear a dress which shows her bare legs even above the knee. But when everyone of her age has become crazy about it, why should she remain backward.
Window-shop has become such an important part of the modern business man agreement that hefty incentives are offered by the manufacturers to the retailers to make them display their goods at the most conspicuous locations. So much so that some anxious manufacturers buy window space from the retailers for displaying their goods and it does make a lot of difference.
In these days; when time is money and ever) moneyed man is short of time, he must be shown the merchandise conspicuously to enable him to make an instant choice. You can’t expect him to spend half-an hour for selection of a shirt from out of dozens of shirts shown with unflagging zeal by a conscientious salesman.
Shop-windows claim their young victims almost effortlessly. Mind-boggling varieties of toys for all ages of children from 2 years to 13 years are enticingly displayed at display-windows.
The young impressionable minds fall easy prey to the charms of exciting devices. They coax and coerce their parents to buy them glamorous entertainment. The ‘only sons’ or ‘only daughters’ exercise disproportionate influence over the purse of their parents. Even those who cannot really afford to spend money on toys do so to humor their fastidious progeny.
Shop-windows have been the cause of quite a few troubles in middle class homes; to keep up with the Joneses is an irresistible tendency in such families. If a relation has a ‘Sunny’, you must have it too.
Otherwise you will feel depressed and let down. If a friend owns Sony’s 380 Watt Music System, you must acquire the same even if your father has to borrow money from his Provident Fund. Parents have to avoid many essential duties like supporting the aged parents or contributing to some charities in order to quench the irresistible thirst of children for fancy goods.
Shop-windows have fuelled the desires of people for consumer goods and have thus been instrumental in destroying the happiness of many a home.
Shop-windows are not always heralder of doom for the people of moderate incomes. By creating desire in the youth to possess glamorous things, they have also activated the ambitions of many young-men and women to work hard and earn substantial income so as to be able to buy these goods and not always to be a burden on their parents. “Some desire” says Spinoza “is necessary to keep life in motion”.