I really want to like boutique shops.
I really do. I like their unique products… I like that they are usually owned by the same person that runs them on a day to day basis.. I like that it supports the little guys financially… I like that it supports creative production of products over same ol’ mass production.
But… as much as I want to like them…. I really do hate the experience of shopping in them.
To start off with, I’m not a people person. I’m an introvert.
I much prefer to be greeted, then left alone until such time as I ask you something, or show signs of needing assistance. Pet peeves include having staff all over me telling me stories about every item in the place and how wonderful they are…. and especially where it gets to the point that I feel like I have to make excuses as to why I’m not taking said random product home with me.
Asking tons of random questions about my family and what I do for a living doesn’t rank very high either… even if you can remember how to spell my last name from the other times I’ve been here and you’ve checked to make sure I’m on the mailing list.
Really… I’m fine on my own.
Especially when I’m really only looking at one particular product I have to come to one of just a few small shops to get… and the rest of the time I’m basically just kinda looking… not at all likely to buy the other items, just kinda curious to see what they are.
There is a middle ground between the ignore the customer entirely box store, and the guilt trip the customer into buying something just because you’ve been on them so much.
Example from my shopping trip this week:
My purchases were:
- one webkinz tshirt (the ones that the child actually wears, not the animal) that can only be found at this one store in this town,
- one webkinz christmas ornament that can only be found in this store and one other,
- and one tiny keychain-sized working snowglobe with my daughter’s first name across it that was bought as an impulse purchase because it was only 2.50
Things offered and not purchased:
- many more webkinz most of which my child has,
- hand made jewelry for child and/or webkinz,
- info on webkinz birthday party making beaded collars for pets to match bracelets,
- fresh made fudge,
- other snowglobes
- other things with childs name on them
- and probably several others that i’m forgetting.
i go to the counter, pay for my items, and an extra worker asked if i would like them gift wrapped.
i said no.
the three items were then whisked off the counter to the next counter over, where the snowglobe was wrapped in tissue paper… which was kind of expected, while commenting on “just these three little things?” and mentioning another item i might like. but then price tags were removed from all three, the other two items got tissue papered, all three were tucked into one of their classy boutique styled bags, lots of extra tissue paper got put into the top and primped to stick out all nice and pretty, and then came the ribbon…. curled around the handle to keep them closed together and made into this big fancy bow and the ends trimmed and shaped… and then handed back to me.
umm…. this is not being gift wrapped?? I’m really scared to see what would have happened if I had answered yes!
However… pretty as it was… and as appropriate as it would have been to just hand to someone… the fact is, it wasn’t at all useful to me for what I was going to use the items for.
The shirt won’t be given until Christmas… but, the ornament has a code with it that activates a tree in webkinz world that the kid can decorate. It makes no sense to keep the ornament until Christmas… sure they can use it on the real tree next year, but it means they don’t get to use their online tree at all this year.
So what do you say though? They put a lot of effort into it. And it did look nice. It just wasn’t what I needed or wanted.
Do you tip someone who essentially gift wraps something when you said no to gift wrapping? Or for that matter, do you if you did say yes and they charge you for it? I hate trying to guess these things.
I have very little skill at keeping a poker face, so I’m sure I probably was giving the two clerks a quite baffled expression… but I just said thank you very nicely, and took the bag.
Later, by sliding my hand down one of the sides I got ahold of the shirt enough to slide it out, and so decided just to leave the snowglobe in with the ornament to give to the kiddo while still in the pretty bag.. though the minute she saw the name of the place embossed on the side she knew it was webkinz related and tore into it.
Love boutique products. This store does have some cool items, especially in their hand made stuff.
But I have to admit… I wince when I need to go there. Hallmark is just so much less obsessive… so much less pressure in the name of friendly service.
And thus the story of why, for the pets i don’t buy online, I pay 2-5 dollars more per pet to buy them somewhere I like less but that doesn’t drive me nuts when I’m sitting there trying to remember whether or not my child owns a virtual polar bear.
just don’t get me started on the story behind the guilt purchased bottle of elderberry extract we still haven’t used from 2 years ago.