The really big malls are only 40 minutes south, but they have different stores than we do. Generally more unique higher end stores like Godiva and my new favorite, Teavana. And that computer store I won't name, but it kind of follows with the food and beverage theme of the other stores.
I told Diva she could invite a friend to go along and they could do a little preliminary back to school shopping. First, taking two pre-teen females shopping probably wasn't my smartest move ever. Because together, that teen mentality of 'branding' takes over. They must have the 'hot' brands of clothing. I didn't realize how old I was until I stepped into the first store that they assured me was a requirement of preteen fashion.
The loud music and heavy perfume, coupled with pictures of half-naked people on the walls, made it clear that they aren't really selling clothes there. It's kind of the same way that Starbucks isn't really selling just coffee. It is the whole atmosphere thing. It gave me a headache. It also made it obvious this was not a preteen store despite attempts to convince me otherwise. I later found this particular store actually has two locations in the mall, the 2nd one is the preteen one - no half naked people, softer music, same clothes.
We went to the next store - a decided improvement as the loud music wasn't quite so bad (or maybe my hearing wasn't as good by then) and the pictures were of beaches instead of people. I was almost eager to get my gold card out after comparing this store to the prior one. And yes, I do realize they are both owned by the same company. But what's with this darkness thing - I felt like I needed to pull out my cell phone to light my way through the labyrinth that made up this store. And what's with all these separate rooms?
Then came test number 1 - Diva and friend wanted to try on some clothes. I left my trail of breadcrumbs so I could find my way back to the girls, and dutifully went in search of a worker. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. Other than the one behind the cash register, there were none to be found. Ah! Finally, a worker. Is she really old enough to work?
I asked about fitting rooms, and worker grimaces slightly and says "I have to unlock those." She then proceeds to unlock two, plus one for the couple (yes, a male/female couple) that want to go in one together. I really don't want to know.
I then ask about a certain type of sweater that Diva is looking for. Nice eye-roll from worker. Obviously customer service isn't what I'm paying for here either.
The girls make their selections and head to the counter. They have one of those automated credit card machines where you sign the screen. Someone decided to put a bunch of perfume bottles on display on the counter immediately in front of the screen, so that you have to be a tall contortionist to reach over and sign your charge. Anyone under 5' 9" isn't going to reach that keypad. And trying to swipe your own card is a guaranteed perfume spill. What were they thinking?
So let's just say that I understand why retailers are doing so poorly right now, and I'm not convinced it is totally the economy that is sinking them. But next time, I think we'll go virtual shopping. And then wait for UPS to deliver.