When Stores Don't Help Themselves

I've written more posts and tweets than I can link to where I've extolled the virtue of physical retail. In sum, personally I love stores and professionally I think retailers and brands need them to thrive. For both of these reasons, I'm crestfallen (it's a little dramatic, I know) when store experiences disappoint me. I'm not talking about whether retailers are making exciting investments; I'm talking about failing on the basics. Examples from the past three days alone:

  1. Dashed into Zara on Fifth Ave. to hit the kids department. It's a three-story location with NO visible signs as to the floor on which women/men/kids are located. There were no sales staff in sight so I finally found a security guard to ask.
  2. Visited a different Zara location a day later to return one of the kids' items and ended up looking around women's. So much inventory hanging on every T-bar that I couldn't move items an inch to see what size they were!
  3. Tried to walk from the Fifth Ave. entrance of the Saks flagship to the elevators. Had to dart the fragrance-sprayers. Got upstairs to The Wellery, which has plenty to say in the endless press coverage, but no one to tell me why the experience is interesting.
  4. Walked by a half-dozen stores in Soho today that I didn't attempt to enter because there were stairs at the entry and no staff around to help with the stroller I was pushing (or the wheelchair someone else might be using).
  5. Also, I passed by countless stores that don't have their hours posted. If I knew they were opening at noon, I might have stuck around for the remaining few minutes.
  6. Made it into Bloomingdale's and accumulated more and more merchandise in my arms and on the stroller handle bar before anyone asked whether I needed help.
  7. Stood on a checkout line six-deep in Athleta waiting for the one person cashiering to become available, while other staff busied themselves around the store. (Kudos on the traffic and conversion, though.)
  8. Upon entering M.Gemi, a newer and direct-to-consumer brand I'd think would want to tell a story, the manager on-duty brusquely said, "You're familiar with the brand, right?"
  9. I continue to be surprised by the number of stores that don't have wi-fi or restrooms.