This afternoon I decided to brave the Century 21 department store. I had a pleasant morning and an enjoyable lunch with Marty and Nozaki-san, so today was a good day to try it. I would love shopping to be a pleasant experience, but with a slogan of “fashion worth fighting for”, Century 21 is not the place to go if you are looking for calm.
The horror started as soon as I entered the store. I tried to find some new socks for Marty but got fed up really quickly of getting pushed out of the way by the men shopping there. Maybe they didn’t see me, but it seems that good manners are left outside the shop.
I moved to the handbag section and tried to find a new bag. There were some lovely things and they were certainly inexpensive but I didn’t see anything I liked enough to fight my way through the crowds. I did overhear an argument between a member of staff and a customer. The customer was asking the sales assistant to please not kick the baskets at her. The sales assistant was standing with her hands on her hips saying “I didn’t kick anything”, sounding horrifying like a defiant child. I moved quickly away from that fight and went to look at ladies clothes.
It was chaotic and disorganised and I was disgusted by how much damage had been done to some of the dresses. Beautiful dresses made from high quality fabric with plucks and tears. I did manage to find some clothes and went to try them on. Well, wasn’t that an experience. Someone took the clothes from me to make sure that I wasn’t hiding items. They don’t trust the customers to be truthful about the number of items they have. They also take everything from you when you leave so they can count the clothes again, and then hand back the items you wish to purchase. But the strangest thing for me was hearing the sales assistants talk about the customers stealing things, and the big signs up about shop lifters. There are ways of checking clothes that don’t make your customers feel like suspected criminals.
My final stop was at the shoe department. I haven’t quite worked out how you are supposed to try on shoes that are joined together with cable tags and I yelped the first time I didn’t notice the security tag at the back of one shoe I tried on. I only managed to put shoes on my right foot, but even if I had managed to put on both it’s not like there was room to walk around.
When I went to buy the shoes the sales assistant didn’t actually speak to me or even look at me. She continued a conversation with two other assistants about one of the customers in the store. The words old and fat were used. Truly delightful.
And why did I put up with this? I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful Calvin Klein suit that cost me about 25% of the original price and a pair of Stuart Weitzman evening shoes that cost $21 instead of the retail price of $340.