I am not a big shopper. Most often when I do get around to it, I am sitting in front of a keyboard, while sitting on my sofa and flipping through Netflix offerings will clicking on ads that entice me on Facebook.
I have never liked to shop, especially for clothes, and my forays into clothing stores are more about restocking inventory than shopping sprees. Shopping implies discovery and adventure, a certain excitement and delight. Restocking implies exactly what it is, a list that instructs “one of these, four of those, a pack of those unless they can be purchased separately, then get two.”
And let’s face it, customer service—remember customer service?—has died a slow and painful death, has been dying for years, and some days it seems that it is as dead and buried as our ancient forbearers. Now there is much discussion about the death of “brick and mortar” stores, and we have a shuttered mall to prove it. It has orphaned brothers and sisters all over the country, and I have sat on my sofa and contributed to their demise, and chalked it up to progress, and congratulated myself on moving with the times.
But then, one day, my phone wouldn’t work. That very sophisticated and expensive bit of technology from which I am inseparable, had a malady, and there was nothing to do but make an appointment with a twelve-year old “genius,” who hangs out at his “bar” at the Apple store, and so I signed up—on line and with some complications—for an appointment, on Wednesday, at 1:30, in Nashville.
It was a cold and rainy day, the middle of the week, in the middle of winter, and we pulled into the Dillard’s adjacent to The Mall at Green Hills. My pal, Alice, was having Apple troubles, too, so we had dual appointments and some time to kill. I had a wedding coming up and, while I had ordered some clothes, and then some shoes, I thought, why not take a gander in Dillard’s, just for the fun of it.
Well. You all.
Shiela was there, folding clothes and looking a tad bored, and since I was only one of two customers who seemed to be on the entire floor, she made a beeline for me, and help me she did. She was great. It was old school customer service, with honest opinions, and multiple trips to get me different sizes, and I left with an armload of things, all giggly at my good fortune and with feelings of genuine warmth for Sheila.
On my way to find Alice, I passed the Bobbi Brown counter, and Elliot was there, fussing around with the displays in a half-hearted way. He perked right up when I asked about the pot rouge and he fixed me right up with color, and lipsticks and an expensive but magical brush. Then he spent a good fifteen minutes showing me how to use that brush.
I looked fabulous.
Alice was having the same kind of luck over at the Origins counter. We carried our treasures—for they were treasures, so small and dear—in their nice little bags and blew kisses over our shoulders. Elliot and Alice’s person blew kisses back. I swear, it seemed as if we did, as we floated toward the escalator in the embrace of such goodwill.
We got a bit lost trying to find the mall from Dillard’s, but no worries…Tate saw our confusion and walked us to the door, then over the pedestrian walkway and waited and watched to make sure we found the mall’s back entrance.
I swear, it was if they had opened Dillard’s just for us. And the service at the Apple store was superb, too. And the Cheesecake Factory. Williams-Sonoma. Lush. Sundance. Nordstrom’s. And all the shops we popped into.
And we didn’t even venture into the fanciest and finest. Those scenes from old 60’s movies finally made sense, the images of the idle rich shopping with abandon, think Mrs. Maisel sashaying through Manhattan with bags and boxes stacked taller than the doorman’s head.
They say that bricks and mortar stores aren’t dead, but are transforming. Shoppers—read that millennials— love to shop, but want not just for goods, but for experiences. I get that, too. Shopping as theatre, spectacle, entertainment. Let me say, if retailers can deliver that, all presented with the big bow of outstanding customer service, then sign me up.
I will take a second job just to be able to see Elliot again.