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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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?"
- I continue to be surprised by the number of stores that don't have wi-fi or restrooms.