Friday, September 07, 2007

The Shallow Consumer Post (Pls. Forgive Me)

I am a native Chicagoan and lived very happily there (other than when away for college) for the first 27 years of my life. I will have lived in Massachusetts for 10 years next month. While Massachusetts is a nice state, I do have a laundry list of complaints about it. I truly mean no disrespect to those folks that love living in Massachusetts. I am very glad for them as it is a good thing to love where you live. I just wish I felt the same way. One item that has been on my list for the last decade, right up there with “can't buy beer at a grocery store,” “last call at the bars is 12:30 am,” “No restaurants serve food after 11 pm” and “why are the income taxes twice as much here as they are in Illinois?” has been “the shopping around here is horrible - where is the Nordstrom's?” Today, that decade-old complaint has been crossed off the list as Nordstrom opened their 99th store in Natick, Massachusetts. I most definitely was there.

Anyone that knows me knows that I actually dislike shopping. Shocking, yes, but true. I get no joy from walking through endless racks of merchandise looking for something. My approach to shopping has always been the surgical strike. I always know what I want and I expect to be able to find it without too much effort. Even better, I like to call the store and have the folks at the store hold my item for me at the register. That approach doesn't work very well in Massachusetts. None of the stores that were here had very much in the way of service - with the exception of Neiman Marcus, (but the one Neiman Marcus in the state is the size of a postage stamp and has a small selection). The stores here also need a lesson in merchandising - the environment of most of the large stores is not conducive to happy browsing: the racks are too close together, there is no organization, the stores need new buyers and the sales people are nowhere to be found. (Don't get me started on Macy's - I won't set foot in one for several reasons.) I actually have been doing my Christmas shopping in Chicago and New York City because there's no joy in browsing here in Massachusetts.

Nordstrom is an amazing chain of stores. I took the stores for granted when I always had one nearby, but a decade away from them has made me really appreciate them. To me, the Nordstrom name has represented quality merchandise with a high level of customer service.

Today I only visited two departments: Individualist and, of course, Shoes. In both departments, a salesperson proactively helped me from the minute I set foot in the department. In both cases, I explained what I wanted or was hoping to find and in both cases, the salesperson found me not only what I had specifically requested, but several other items that I may want to also consider in the correct sizes. The experience is akin to having your own personal shopper. I am in the customer books of both of the sales associates now and will be notified if something that may be interesting to me shows up. The associate from Individualist (Kari, in case you're in the area and need assistance) went so far as to go downstairs into the shoe department to find a pair of shoes for me as I fell in love with the pair they let me use for my alteration measurements (which were complementary, by the way).

I can honestly say that I enjoyed my trip to Nordstrom's today and was very productive in my shopping (just check my credit card balance). Now if we could do something about the rest of the items on my list, I may just start to like it here a little.

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