November 18, 2008

Shopping in the Bay Area

One of the great things about taking a vacation is getting to experience local farmer's markets, boutiques, grocery stores, and restaurants. Chris and I recently went to Oakland, California and spent a lot of time in San Fransisco while there. We were in town for a wedding but got to spend time with family and explore!

The shopping was great! We spent a lot of time on Haight St. where Chris bought a pair of pants from Villains and many records from Amoeba. I bought a Manoush dress on sale at Ideele. It was discounted because it was lacking the pin:
Which was fine by me, as I would have removed it anyway!

We also visited Nordstrom Rack (which I hope will soon find a home in Pittsburgh), and Bloomingdales, where Chris bought a Trovata shirt. We tried to go to Barneys and Anthro but it wasn't in the cards. Nordstrom Rack was running a great promotion (half off lowest prices on all designer clothes) but everything looked really bad when I tried it on. It is for the best, since I did so much shopping before the trip and have so much holiday shopping to do this month! I might have bought something at Bloomingdales had it not been for the horrible service which turned me off from buying anything.

On the other hand, all the sales associates we encountered in small boutiques were very friendly and helpful. They lamented to us that the only people buying were out of town visitors like ourselves. Many feared for the future of their jobs and the future of the boutique market. This was an important reminder to me that I need to frequent and patronize local shops, especially those that have offered me exceptional customer service like Pavement, Hiptique, Moda (for men), and Karma Fashion. If I received better service in some of the others, I would be naming them too. But due to bad service experiences I refuse to even return to some of the places. I am going to have to return for this project I am working on about critical shopping. But that is for the purpose of research.

I'm not sure what elicits positive customer service experiences. I am often dressed in what I regard to be appropriate attire. Yet on marathon trips I can visit three different places in the same hour of the same day, in the same outfit, and get totally variable service. I will say that shopping with Chris's mom is the ticket to getting the best service you will ever have. I shopped with her in Vegas, in St. Barths, and last weekend at Saks and the sales associates treat her (and by association, me) like a queen everywhere she goes. I'm sure her gorgeous Burberry coat and David Yurman jewelry didn't hurt on our most recent excursion. But it seems like I almost always get better service when I shop with another person. Whether it is Chris, his mom, my mom, or one of my girlfriends, the service is almost always more attentive with a partner. The one exception was when I shopped with China at a boutique, downtown that has notoriously bad online customer service, so I shouldn't have been surprised that the same was true in person.

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