I’m talking to you, Avenue clothing stores. You’re outta here.
I spent years on the big side of a size 32 (meaning I could squeeze into them but I’d be covered in red welts by the time I waddled my way home from work). When you’re on the plus side of plus size, your choice in clothing stores is limited. Lane Bryant only carries up to size 26/28. And Catherine’s? Well…I probably could have found some things that fit me, but their styles are not for me. I prefer to wear clothes that are somewhat understated and conservative…and Catherine’s seems to want me to look like a giant tropical flower bedecked in sequins and glitter. Not my thing. So I was stuck with the Avenue.
Going by baseball rules, they should have been out after three strikes but since my choices were limited I had to stick with them until I figured my shit out. Now I have…and I’ve dropped five sizes. Last weekend, I dared to step into another clothing store and was treated to something I haven’t seen in a very long time: customer service.
But let’s go back to the Avenue for a minute. Let’s talk about the three biggest strikes they have against them in my book.
Strike 1: impersonal staff.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into one of these stores and heard someone lethargically yell “Welcome to the Avenue!” from the back with about as much enthusiasm as I have going to the gyno. (Oh God….do I really have to do this? Can’t they just xray my vag and tell me I’m okay? GROSS!)
I try not to be a rude bitch on a daily basis, so I always yell back “Thanks!” to the disembodied voice in the back of the store. No one actually steps forward to say hello or ask if I need help.
There’s usually only one person on the floor at a time. If there are two, they’re usually back there together…talking about how they’re going to put the merchandise on the floor or about the customer who stayed in the store until 9:02 pm last night. I once stood next to two employees, one who was working in the store where I was shopping and the other who was visiting from another store, as they had a conversation about an irate customer. My arms were loaded with clothing I wanted to try on. Both of them ignored me completely while they went on and on about this irate customer. I’m too big to be invisible, folks. I was standing right there within four feet of them…obviously waiting to be helped…and, nope, nothing. I finally interrupted them and asked for a fitting room.
Strike 2: Lame-ass failures
Tired of sewing my workout pants back together for the umpteenth time, I went over to the Avenue to buy a new pair. I walked around looking for some but couldn’t find any. The closest thing they had was a pair of bright blue velour lounging pants. Velour. As I neared the back of the store, an employee approached and asked if she could help me find something. (It has been known to happen, I’ve just learned not to rely on it).
“Yes, thanks,” I said. “I’m looking for some workout pants. You know…like the nylon or polyester blend ones we had to wear in gym class in high school?”
“Ohhhhh, no,” laments the Avenue chick. “We don’t have anything like that, I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, we only carry workout stuff in January,” she offers back. “You know…because of resolutions.”
This was one of those times for me when I could feel myself wanting to open up and vent and my filter was frantically trying to get me to stop. Think. Don’t say something rude, HMP!!! Don’t do it!!!
I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and replied “Oh riiiiight. Because the fatties only work out after New Years, I’d forgotten. How silly of me…it’s June. We’ve all failed by now, right?”
Poor Avenue chick. She didn’t know what to say. To her credit, she tried to be helpful by pointing out the velour lounging pants.
“We do have these…”
Now I’m pissed at the ridiculousness of the situation.
“Well, those are made of velour. If I workout in those the thigh friction alone would have the inside legs bald in no time. The gym floor would look like someone murdered the Cookie Monster.”
“Well, I guess you’re right. I’ll have to quit working out and wait for next January. Thanks for your help.”
I skulked off to Catherine’s, thinking I couldn’t get more pissed off. I was wrong. They didn’t have any workout gear either. But they had chocolate for sale by the register.
Strike 3: Bad fashion advice
I walked into the Avenue last week, eager to see if I could fit into a size 24. An employee was straightening a table near the entrance. And, by the way, this reminds me…why are some customers such dillholes? Do they really not realize that someone just set up that beautiful display of tshirts? I’ll never understand people who unfold something to look at it and then toss it on the table. Rude.
Sorry…I digress. I said “I’m looking for dress pants.”
The girl nodded and, quite seriously, pointed out a rack of black dress pants. Then she offered “You’re lucky. This is all we have.”
“Ohhh…yeah,” I answered. “Because they’re black and it’s summertime, right?”
She shook her head negatively. “No.”
I guess I wasn’t going to get an explanation and, as much as I knew I would regret it, I had to ask why. So I did.
“Because people just aren’t wearing pants anymore.”
You can’t say shit like that to me, okay? My mind goes from innocent to dirty in 3 seconds.
“My God, why not?”
“Everyone’s wearing shorts and capris now. Or dresses.”
Oh, I see. Everyone is. Then I looked down. “You’re wearing pants…”
Maybe she thought I wouldn’t notice?
Just as a bonus, let me add this little tidbit: I went to buy new bras at the Avenue but I couldn’t see the size on the tag anymore. I asked the girl to measure me. She’s worked there a while and I always recognize her.
“Oh! You’re at least an H cup and we don’t carry anything that big.”
Um…no. I explained to the girl that I’d purchased the bra I was wearing less than a year before. It’s a DDD.
“No, you’re at least an H. Where did you go to buy it? They measured you wrong.”
Without missing a beat, I replied that I’d purchased the bra at…the Avenue.
“Oh, which store?”
“Well, the person who measured you must have done it wrong. I’m sorry.”
“You measured me.”
You’re outta here!
There have been countless other failures that I won’t list out entirely. I think I’ve made my point. Out of habit, I’ve just kept going back there…even though I’ve dropped from a tight size 32 to a 22 now. Until last week when I walked into a Torrid store.
As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by Rachel. I know her name is Rachel because she (shocker) told me her name. With a smile on her face. Right before she asked me if she could help me with anything.
Yes, perhaps you could help me up off the floor because I’m not used to being greeted with such courtesy.
Rachel asked my name and explained the sales they were having. My favorite was the yellow tag sale. Buy something with a yellow tag and get another yellow tag item for $1. Then there was the red tag sale. And the jeans for $19. And the rest of the store was on sale as well. Buy one item, get 50% off another.
Most of their stuff is casual, which is okay…but I’m always running short on clothes for work, which have to be professional. I asked Rachel, who was a whirlwind as she moved around the floor greeting and helping customers, but always seemed to have time for each of us. She pointed out their dress slacks, which looked absolutely perfect for work. I was relieved.
Rachel also pointed out that they had suit jackets to match those dress slacks. $54 for the jacket. I think it was slightly more for the pants, but with the “buy one, get 1/2 off the next” sale, I was quite pleased.
She set up a fitting room for me. As I moved around the floor, other employees would occasionally check on me. They all knew my name. They all used my name. I have to say…it was quite refreshing.
I was on a budget, so I couldn’t spend much. I ended up walking out of there with a $43 denim jacket that would have been $60 at the Avenue. Because it was a yellow tag item, I got a khaki military style jacket for $1.
As it so happens, there’s a Lane Bryant next door to the Torrid in my area. I had to go in. I haven’t been in a Lane Bryant in years and I wanted to see what they had going on.
Marble floors. Some pretty clothes. Not a soul in sight. I walked over to a suit jacket that caught my eye. $99. For a suit jacket. Buh-bye. I left…and never saw one employee anywhere in the store.
Now I need to go shopping again. The bras that the H-cup chick at the Avenue sold me are too small. Guess where I’m headed?
(And no, I haven’t been financially compensated for this post in any way…they’re just that awesome.)