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28 March 2014

Shopping ... love it or hate it!

Section of shopping precinct


I used to love browsing in shops, even if I didn’t want to buy anything but now we don’t seem to have many shops in which to browse. There are plenty of hairdressers for men as well as women but you can’t really look around those establishments without appearing a bit odd.

picture courtesy of bbc.co.uk
Charity shops are rapidly taking over our shopping precincts or High Streets. One retail outlet closes, three charity shops open. Or a hairdressers.  Or a sandwich bar. The charity shops do encourage people to look around but when you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all since they all stock other people’s cast-off clothes and shoes. Quite honestly I don’t fancy wearing discarded shoes in case the owner’s feet were malformed, twisted, warped or infected. But each to their own, I guess.

My local shopping area has now been designated an eating place. Gone are the old electrical shops, the chemists, the butchers, the china shops, antique shops, small stores, clothiers, shoe shops and independent marketeers, all to be replaced by restaurants, cafes, Costa and pizza bars, Italian, Indian, French, Chinese, Thai, even English fish and chip and coffee shops. You can’t avoid the smell of cooking unless you happen to be standing outside a charity shop. I imagine they don’t go in for feeding the public, just dressing them.

And woe betides you if you want to purchase something! You can get it on-line, Madam is now a familiar piece of advice. A week ago I saw a top I liked in the colour I wanted. As ever, they didn’t have it in size 16 (UK size). I say as ever because this happens every time. It would be okay if I wanted a 10, 12, 14, 18, or 20 but they never have a 16. The excuse is that the company only sends two garments in each size and because 16 is the most common size they sell out quickly.

Yesterday, since I was back in town, I decided to look again. Still no size 16. Ah well, if I couldn’t have the blue I’d take one of the latest pinks ... guess what ... no 16 in that colour either.

Can I order it?

You can order it on-line, Madam, but you would have to pay for delivery.

The lesser of two evils!

I challenged the assistant about the repeated lack of my size and she stated that in all her three years service it had been ever thus. She continued for a good ten minutes, describing every policy detail adopted by the supplier, at the end of which she offered to go and look in the stockroom. I didn’t decline the offer, although I had been there before, needlessly waiting for the assistant to come back empty handed. Well this time I was wrong, she stepped off the escalator clutching two tops. ‘The last ones,’ she murmured, a trifle sheepishly. One blue and one pink. I took both and resisted the urge to ask why in a whole week she had failed to replace stock, even though her words they only send two garments in each size were ringing loud and clear inside my head.

Next time I want something to wear I might be forced to try the charity shops, followed by lunch and possibly a hair-do.

On a more positive note, whilst surfing the Internet I saw the outfit I wanted for my birthday bash. I went to the same store, different franchise, and talked to the manageress. I had gone armed with photograph (thank goodness for smart phones) so she could see for herself which outfit I wanted. The response was positive, she not only ordered it (by phone) but she got it in store by next day and phoned to tell me. I was there like a flash just after the store opened and there was my outfit, pressed and ready to try on. Now that is what I call service.

The difference between the two incidents is this: the manageress was an older (although to my eyes still young) person whereas the one with three years’ service was nought but a beginner who hadn’t yet learned the trade. How long does it take to learn a job, that’s what I want to know! 
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16 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

I've certainly noticed how so many shops are now hairdressers, beauty product shops (you left those out) and caffs. It does indeed make for boring shopping, but the answer is simply in the "you can get it online" isn't it? Unfortunately I dislike malls but I know some people do like to go for a day out and they do seem incredibly popular. Times change. I wish I could think of a solution for High streets. It seems Mary Portas didn't ultimately come up with much but perhaps the results are still in the pipeline.

DeniseinVA said...

I have never been much of a shopper but I do miss the old mom and pop stores, the individual family owned places are fast becoming a thing of the past. I dislike malls as I find them boring, with all the same stores. Those charity shops here are called thrift stores.

Akelamalu said...

Well the second shop assistant was certainly helpful wasn't she? I've had some real bargains from charity shops but, like you, I draw the line at shoes.

Montanagirl said...

I totally relate to this post, Valerie! I'm not much of a shopper anymore - maybe being retired has something to do with it, and being 66, and just being uninterested in the whole process! LOL. Great post!!

troutbirder said...

Indeed. Shopping is a major recreational activity for my spouse. I provide chauffer services...:)

Ron said...

"Quite honestly I don’t fancy wearing discarded shoes in case the owner’s feet were malformed, twisted, warped or infected."

I feel the same way about purchasing used shoes, Valerie. I've purchased used clothing before, but will wash them before wearing. However, shoes you can do that.

Reading this post reminded me once again how customer service everywhere in the world is so similar - sometimes you get great customer service, but other times (which is frequent) you get lousy customer service.

And I can see, just from the kind of retail I'm in, that more and more people are shopping less in stores and more online...because it's easier AND they get better customer service.

Great post!

Have a lovely weekend, dear lady!

X to you and Joe!

Valerie said...

Jenny, I don't think there are any beauty product shops in our mall. Plenty of counters in House of Fraser though. Actually our mall is very dignified unlike some I've seen. It's (usually) a pleasure going there.

Denise, I agree with you. Those family owned shops were brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble for those retailers.... customers came first. Now, we're in the way!!

Pearl, I think we have like minds and I agree there are bargains to be had there.

Troutbuilder, heehee the perfect role for a man.

Valerie said...

Ron, you are right about customer service... it does vary. It just seems that lately I've come across a few assistants who couldn't care less.

I must say I'm always impressed by the attitude of those who deal with on-line customers... I know it's all prepared and preprinted in some office or other but they know how to word emails to make customers feel good. I get quite bowled over when the on-line sections of my local supermarket seems to bend over backwards to put things right or to help with queries. Can't see the cash-out girls doing that. Not often anyway.

Geraldine said...

I buy less and less it seems, as the years go by. I have so much "stuff" already that I really like and when I look at a lot of the junk in stores now, I don't even want it and can't imagine anyone wasting good money on it either. LOL


Customer service is a dying art it seems Val.

And what's with the "defensive mode" that so many younger people seem to have in stores etc.. now if you question anything about what they sell or do etc? I note that more and more.

I'm a (very) polite person, but it seems that too often now what I say gets taken as some personal affront, based on a couple of recent experiences in particular. Chill out kids!!!

What I put up with in retail and supervising in large call centers over the years, would have most of them headed for the looney bin! We coped with whatever came our way and with a smile and a pleasant demeanor; even when someone WAS cranky and rude. And those things, I am not!

Oh, where did that all come from...sorry Val. :-)

I'm off my soapbox now! This just got me thinking along with a recent post along the same lines, at Ron's place.

Valerie said...

Geraldine, I've noticed the "defensive mode" lately. Not sure why that is, though. Actually if they changed their attitude and became more customer friendly they wouldn't need a "defensive mode". Their trainers should bear that in mind.

Sorry you left a note on the new growth in my garden, it was/is scheduled for 4 April so I don't know why it suddenly appeared today.

L. D. said...

I watched a show on Sunday telling us that malls are being torn down. They have been beaten out by the internet or too many stores.

Mr. Shife said...

Browsing is no an option for us with the two kiddos. We get in, get out, and hope for minimal damage. =) Bummer about them never having your size but congrats on getting your birthday bash outfit. Awesome. Take care, Val, and give my best to Joe.

Brian Miller said...

i am on the other end of the spectrum...shopping has grown on me more...i used to take a book to read while my wife browsed...ha....but i have learned to like shopping...pretty sad that you have to revert to online to get somethings though and the shops are more window dressing....our malls are dead though...i went this eve with my oldest just to get out of the house a bit...and it left a bit to be desired...

faye said...

I still like to browse in the shops.. why is it whenever I am not looking for something a clerk will always rush over to help and then when I need assistance they are nowhere to be found......

Ordering on line is easier..............

Valerie said...

Larry, we also have shops closing down although as yet not torn down. It's all very worrying.

Thank you, Matt, I will pass on your good wishes.

Brian, I wouldn't have put you down as a shopper... smiles. It must be heartbreaking to see dying malls. High rents don't help keep them alive, either.

Faye, I know exactly what you mean. Our assistants are just as aggravating.

Mel said...

Here I am, playing catch up and nodding. I've always been one of those "get in, get it, get out" kida shoppers. But he-who-puts-up-with-me could wander shops til the cows come home. LOL. Better he than me!! I will note that I enjoy shopping online as much as in the shops. Even the absence of humans doesn't make it enjoyable. :-/ I will note that the absence of customer service in the shops comes hand in hand with the online boom. Heck, when you I for help/information about a product I don't expect the salesperson to start reading the box to me. Sheeesshh...I could do that!