When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking. ~Elayne Boosler
When ever I have an extended business trip to the US, my wife and daughter push handwritten shopping requests into my briefcase as I walk out the door. Some things, particularly for the teenage population, are just more plentiful and better stocked than in London, and then there is the currency exchange difference.
So, on this trip, my list included J. Crew, Abercrombie and Hollister. Fortunately, I was headed to a big city this trip and a quick search on the internet, conducted for me by those most anxious for their goodies (complete with maps and directions), located all three stores in one large shopping mall close to my hotel. No excuses this time! Even if the weather is 8 degrees F (-13 C) and snowing.
So, this morning I did my duty. First stop, J. Crew for some Tissue Turtleneck T-shirts. Lo and behold, they were on sale. 50% off and all the right colours. I must say it was a delight shopping at J. Crew. A very friendly sales person, age fitting the age of the customers, well dressed, knowledgable and very helpful, guided me to the right spot, helped with the sizes, and I was in and out in a flash. I buy, I don’t shop! And the background music was comfortable and appropriately hushed.
Next stop, Abercrombie. As I approached the store from the escalator across the mall I knew this was going to be a different experience. The store was dark (can’t they afford a lighting bill?) but the music was blaring (guess all the lighting budget is diverted to mega-concert speakers with a million watts output!). I felt like I was inside a boom box or one of those dark windowed low-rider cars that cruise by with the music loud and the subwoofer blowing out the storefront windows. It was deafening inside that store, and to make it worse, definitely not my style of music (no classical concertos here).
I yelled twice at a very young sales person before getting a response. After more shouting I was shown to a sales rack which had a few of the items on my list. I looked at the jumble of items, turned around to ask for assistance, but he had disappeared into the thumping darkness of the store. I knew I needed to work fast before my ears began to bleed!
After finding the few items I ran towards the check-out desk, which was smack in the center of the store, where all the sound tended to collide and course through my body like vibratory lightning. I yelled (nicely) at the sales clerk to please turn down the music, as I couldn’t hear what she was saying as she was ringing up my purchases.
Her response, loudly, was that they were not allowed to touch the music or volume, it was preset by the “company”. She admitted it was pretty loud, even for her young ears and tastes.
After an acoustic bludgeoning, I escaped into the calm serenity of the mall, but my ears were still ringing as I headed for the parking level. Mission accomplished, but next time I’m bringing the earplugs I use when riding in old Russian M1-8 orange and blue helicopters when fishing in Russia for salmon and trout. These ear plugs block out all noise, and even some light!
What is the “business strategy” behind this form of adult torture? Don’t they want adults in the store? It seems to me they are driving away a large segment of the population with the dollars to pay for their merchandise, and it’s not cheap, either. And to not allow the sales staff to adjust the volume?
Am I just getting old and cranky or is this something the management team thinks is conducive to shopping and spending money? Don’t answer that!
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress