Manhattan shopping. In the story below, I'm NOT saying the brand or the nam e of the store. I don't want to throw rage at one tiny example of something that ex i sts throughout Manhattan, especially at the brand-name stores that call themsel v es A Flagship Store.
There are multiple stores in Manhattan that are not externally identified as Fla g ship but are. They are usually identified by the area of the city. I didn't r e alize that that area of downtown was a Flagship area.
Flagship : n. : the finest, largest, or most important one of a chain of s t ore s
That's the book definition. However, what it has come to mean, it my experi e nce is that this is the version of a store that is meant to be 100% camera ready al l of the time. In New York's flagship areas, this also means that only the tren d iest representations for that brand will be present, and that a limited size se l ection will be available.
Some entire brands, of course, are like this. Abercrombie and Fitch has lon g be e n infamous for their brand exclusiveness in this area. I've never stepped foot into one, because I have never been their target demographic (even when I was a teenager).
At least the guy in my story below let me know that I had accidentally stepp e d i n to a Flagship store. Now I know to steer clear of that area for anything where I might want to spend money. The way he told me, though, rubbed me the wrong w a y. Here's my story:
I went to a store near Broadway and Prince Street. This section of Manhatta n , j u st North of Chinatown, has become a shopping district. Many of the stores I'd b e used to seeing in a nice mall have started to show up here.
This particular shop is for a shoe brand that I've been buying consistently f or f ive years. I want new shoes (two pairs - black and brown - as is my habit), so I looked up the an address, and I happened to find this store was about 30 minu t es closer to me than the one I went to last time.
I went in, and it felt wrong. This place didn't feel like a place where I sh o p, i t felt a little more like a museum. But... I'm wearing that store's own brand on my feet as I walk in, and I figure maybe they can help me.
I find a few shoes that are similar to what has been comfortable for me in t h e p a st, and get the attention of one of the trendy and youthful sales staff.
I start by pointing out my own shoes. I explain how these are the most comf o rta b le shoes I've ever had, and I wore the previous version of the same shoe, with a different name, and different features. I point to a shoe in a different line , and say, those look similar.
I expect him to tell me that the model I'm wearing is no longer made, and th e n o f fer to show me some other things that might be similar. Maybe even the shoes t h at I just pointed at.
I nstead, things went sideways. Paraphrased: That shoe line you are wearing isn ' t available in this store, though we have some of that line on the Women's side . So, what you can do is go to one of our other stores, and they might be able t o find your discontinued model, or maybe we can find something for you here.
At this point, I'm getting this vibe that I'm being told that I don't belong her e . But, I realize, too, he's also just telling me that the whole line that I am used to just isn't available. It's a Sunday night, the other stores won't have a long period of being open by the time I take the next half-hour of ride to ge t there. I made the trip, but I'm also annoyed. I say, "So, I made a mistake c o ming here, and I should go to your other store?" Had he said, "Yeah, sorry." I wouldn't have had the time to really get pissed off. Instead he keeps yammeri n g.
Paraphrasing again: See, we're a flagship store, so we only have the newest m ode l s. As soon as something new is announced, we ship the old stuff off to another store.
Now I have a VERY strong feeling that he doesn't want me shopping here. He's done nothing at all to st e er me back into a sale. Okay, he's young, I give him another chance. "Do you h ave wide sizes here?"
The guy scoffs. He tells me that this store has very limited wide sizes. A n y w i de that they might have would be in the most expensive premium line. Then he b a ckpedals, and explains that even in that line, the selection would be limited.
Instead of helping me find what they do have, he explained to me all the rea s ons that they won't have anything I'm looking for. Maybe, maybe I read the whole s i tuation wrong, but I honestly felt like I was being pushed out the door, like s o me sort of Pretty Woman moment. Anyway, I was pissed off, and I said, "I get it, I'm not young enough or skinny enough to shop here."
The guy, to his credit, blurted a confused version of I'm sorry. I said, "N o pr o blem." and walked out the door, but I was angry.
Somewhere in here there's probably a lesson about customer service. There's pro b ably also a lesson in how I view Manhattan flagship stores. These are stores that I feel , despite my affinity to a brand, make me feel unwelcome. Thing is, one of the best things about being a grown-up with a desk-job is that I am usually exactly the demographic that most companies want. I get it, fashion is different. I can deal with some parts of that. Maybe it's just that I've n e ver gotten this attitude from a shoe store before.