Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mall Randomness

Like many people, I have brand preferences in certain product categories. For clothes, I usually buy Eddie Bauer and Dockers and if I go to a typical mall I usually shop at Macy’s. My first stop at a local outlet mall is the Eddie Bauer store. Those choices probably put me one or two notches above the very middle of middle class, but I am just as much at home in Wal-mart as I am in Macy’s.

All of that is a setup for these random observations about two malls I visited today:

First stop was a “high end” mall I hadn’t visited in years and I entered through Bloomingdales, probably the most “common” of the stores there. Every sales clerk who said “can I help you” seemed snooty; maybe it was obvious I was wearing Bauer.

I immediately checked out the “sale” rack of men’s shirts. Regular price: $135. WTF?!?! Even at 30% off, the price was still $95. No way. I don’t pay even half that much for ordinary shirts.

Bloomingdales oozes elegance, yet there was a stock clerk hauling boxes of stuff through the aisle on an old, rusty hand truck. And in another part of the store I had to walk around an aluminum ladder left in the middle of an aisle. I’ve worked retail before and those two things aren’t (or weren’t) tolerated even at Sears.

The food court in this mall had none of the usual franchise eateries. A pleasant surprise.

Next stop was a “normal” mall. By that, I mean a mall with all the predictable stores you see at nearly every mall. I entered through the only upscale store there, a Nordstrom’s. Didn’t bother to even look at prices.

The food court had a McDonald’s, Subway, and, you guessed it, a Panda Express.

The Macy’s there had lots of stuff on sale but I only wanted shoes, and I didn’t see what I was looking for. I shop at this particular Macy’s six or seven times a year, but for the first time I can remember, everything in the men’s department was moved around. I actually got lost trying to find my way back into the mall. Geez.

The last time I was in this Sears store was to buy a TV more than ten years ago. Everything in that store is in exactly the same place it was back then. The only difference: the TV and home electronics department now is surrounded by plexiglass walls with theft-deterrent alarm thing at the entrance.

The dreaded “black Friday” is three days from now yet this mall was packed, at 2pm on a Tuesday.

It was a big deal for Macy’s and Penney’s to open at 4am the day after Thanksgiving last year. Signs in the mall this week say Macy’s will open at Midnight.

This shopping trip had nothing to do with gifts. I was only shopping for myself today. This adventure was another reminder that online shopping is a lot easier.

Unlike most men, I actually like shopping, but I am a very focused shopper. I know what I want before I go; I find it, buy it and leave. If I browse, it is usually to check out other things I regularly buy that I didn’t plan to buy that day, just in case something I want is on sale.

Ladies, do you like men to wear cologne? I got a whiff of some powerful scent reminiscent of one I used to wear and thought I was going to pass out. Is there really any appealing men’s cologne?

My goal today was shoes and maybe a shirt. I bought neither. I did get iPod headphones and some blank DVD-Rs. I could have found those items at Wal-mart.

So there ya have it. I wonder why I was mildly depressed as I left. Maybe because of the pouring rain. Or the disconnect between the festive holiday decorations and the grumpy store employees. The three traffic jams I encountered on the way home didn’t help. Hopefully that’s the only depression I experience this holiday season. I have an awesome holiday road trip planned; no malls are on the itinerary.

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