Last week, with the kids back in school after an extended Veteran’s holiday, I planned a whole day of shopping at my favorite destination, the Streets at Southpoint in Durham. The desire to eliminate stress during the holiday season was a strong reason for making the 90 minute drive north but it was also a great excuse to catch up on some podcasts (check out Serial and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and enjoy the Carolina countryside. I was armed with coupons galore and a list of items to discover. I started at Macys, which was having a “Week before Thanksgiving” Sale. There were a lot of people already in this store—it opened at 7am—so I was pretty confident that I’d be able to find several items on my list.
Then, it was time to venture into the mall. It’s true, I do enjoy shopping at the mall, but there is one thing I absolutely can’t and it’s the dreaded “mall carts.” You know, the kioks that line the middle of the walkways and hawk things like hair extensions, Dead Sea lotions and remote-controlled helicopters. So, I’m pretty intentional about avoiding mall carts. And, when leaving Macys, if you exit on the second floor you avoid the carts altogether. Success!
Next up was Bath and Body Works, the store that keeps America smelling good. Again, it was time for a hard sales pitch with “buy 3 get 3 free”, “buy 2 get 1 free”, “4 for $20” and gift baskets including “$120 worth for only $55.” So, when I brought my items to the counter, I thoroughly confused the saleslady who didn’t understand why I didn’t want to buy an extra candle for $8.
Our dialogue went something like this…
“They’re on sale today; don’t you want to save some money?”
When I told her I’d have to spend in order to save, she continued her sales pitch.
“You don’t understand. It’s a better value to spend $20 to get 2 candles rather than $12 for one.”
And, in typical Kristen fashion I replied…
“You may not understand this because you work here and you love candles. But I live in a very small house and one candle is all I need.”
She let it rest and rang me up for only one candle (plus 3 lotions and one Wallflower.)
I made my way to Pandora, the jewelry store, to score another item on my list. But, my emotional high from finding good deals at Macys was short lived upon my entry to Pandora. I believe the employees had just watched a video on how to sell because I heard, no less than 4 times, how important it was “to select a bead that has special meaning.” When I asked about a “Golden Gate Bridge” charm, which they didn’t have, the salesperson retorted, “What else did you do there that brought meaning to your life?” When I told her I was just trying to collect travel charms for a bracelet, she looked incredulous and offered me a selection sure to make someone’s bracelet “more meaningful.”
Upon exiting the store, I was feeling a bit dejected so I glanced over to the food court and spied a beacon of comfort…the Sees Candy Wagon with a lady as old as Mary See herself. Of course I stopped and bought a box of Assorted Nuts and Chews and since I appeared obviously in distress, the kind helper told me to enjoy as many free samples as I wanted. I politely took only 3.
After darting in and out of the top-level shops, it was time to make my way to the lower level. I scouted out the least obnoxious carts and made may bold move to simply walk confidently and try to ignore their entreaties. It was working pretty well, until the lotion guy stepped into my path.
“Can I ask you something?”
“No thank you. Not today. “
“No need to be rude. I’m just doing my job.”
(to myself, “Really? It’s you’re job to push lotion into my hands and then make me wash my hands in your little bowls of water as you tell me how much my skin needs to be replenished with a $40 cream?”)
Finally, it was time to wrap up my day. I had saved the best for last and it was only natural that I would find consolation in my favorite department store, Nordstroms. No pushy salespeople, no tacky toys being hawked at the entrance, plenty of quiet space to simply enjoy the finer things in life. I browsed through the accessories counters and settled on the perfect gift for someone special. As I admired the item in the soft light, the saleslady approached me and said, “That’s a lovely choice. Can I wrap that up for you?”