In general, I like shopping. I like shopping for lots of things: clothes, makeup, kitchen gadgets, towels and sheets…your basic girly stuff. Based on the stuff I like to shop for, it would seem natural that a department store would be *great* for an active participant in consumer culture such as myself.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!
There is no shopping experience that I hate more than department store shopping. Macy’s, JC Penney, Kohls, Bloomingdales..I can’t stand any of them. I avoid them. No, more than that. I go out of my way to stay out of them.
Why, you ask, do I hate department stores so much? Let me count the ways….
1. They are confusing
Department stores are big, ugly, perfume-scented mazes. It’s impossible to find what you’re looking for with any type of efficiency, including the exit. Of course, this is by design. The stores are set up so that you will see as many of their wares as possible, which means you have to waste a half an hour to find the damn entrance that you came in so that you can get back to your car (“I know I came in by the bras…are the bras over there? Nope, that’s shoes…wait, did I come in by shoes?!”). This infuriates me.
2. They are usually very disorganized
Only very high-end department stores show organization and neatness within each department. Usually, the clothing department is a mess. Stuff is hung up in all the wrong places, which makes it impossible to tell how much anything costs or to find your size. Same goes for the towels and sheets, and the jewelry, and the housewares. It’s unpleasant and frustrating and nonsensical and annoying. That about covers it.
3. I hate the way the merchandise is displayed
In a department store, nothing is displayed in a visually appealing way. This is an aesthetic complaint, but I also think that the merchandise isn’t displayed to make it easy to see all the choices available. Last week my mom dragged me into JC Penney (why, mom, why?!) and I went to look at food processors. When I eventually found them (see #1) I was happy to see a lot of options, but quickly realized it was impossible for me to back up enough to look at all the food processors on display because I would have backed into a table stacked with blenders. So I had to pull the food processors off the shelf and hold them up to each other, which is not easy. Eventually, I put them down and texted my mom to tell her that I’d meet her at the Gap.
4. I hate their stupid, sexist advertising
Next time you see a commercial for a department store or, worse, get a flyer for one, take a look at who’s featured on the ads. Women. Usually white, skinny, pretty, women. Now, almost all advertising features white, skinny, pretty, women at the expense of the rest of the population (don’t you know that only white, skinny, pretty women shop?). But it seems to me that other products and stores are at least making a superficial effort to get away from the 1950’s-little-lady-goes-to-do-the-family-shopping type of ads. Many commercials today feature a diverse cast of models and some are even starting to steer away from overt gender stereotyping (covertly, not so much, but that’s a post for another day). Except for department store ads. It might just be me, but they seem extremely dated.
5. Their prices aren’t very good
Simply put, most of the stuff you can buy in a department store, you can find cheaper somewhere else…and that place is usually online. Amazon, Overstock, Piperlime, Zappos….all of these online retailers put the prices found in department stores to shame.
Now, all this being said, notice a keyword in the title of this post: in. I hate shopping in department stores, but occasionally I will purchase stuff from a department store’s website if they offer a product I can’t find elsewhere or a particular store is running a particular deal on a particular product that I need. Shopping online at a department store avoids a lot of their pitfalls, at least the pitfalls as I see them. I especially like Nordstrom’s online store because they offer free shipping and free returns.
What about you? Do you like department stores? If so, why (for the love of God, why??!)? If not, what did I miss?