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Why Big Shops Have Lost my Patronage
Why don't the Big Stores have Clothes for people?
The Problem With Big Store Shopping
Department Store Shopping
I have almost stopped going into the big shops - the department stores here in the United Kingdom. They don’t have what I want, they don’t give me the choice I want and they don’t want to hear what I have to say! And then they wonder why they are not making sales and not making money? Which stores do I mean? In the United Kingdom, I am talking about department stores, such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Frazer and any similar big stores, that sell clothes.
Do you find difficulty getting clothes you like in Big Stores?
What is the Problem? Underwear first
Let me give you some examples. I have tried several times, recently to buy a bra from Marks and Spencer. I like a sports bra because it gives me good support and I am pretty active, even in my old age, so I like to be ready for a bit of action - even if it’s just chasing a grandchild round the local park. I have bought my underwear from Marks and Spencer for as long as I have had the money to purchase it myself - and that wasn’t yesterday. I prefer a more traditional style of bra. Not hard to obtain, you say? Well, first, I don’t want an underwired one - after a few washes, the wires tend to start poking out - that’s my experience anyway. I also don’t want a white one, I want black or a dark colour, even purple, dark mixed colours, anything, EXCEPT white.
Updated - my sister texted me the other day to say that Marks and Spencer had a sale on in their Sports Bras, if I was still looking for one. I had already been in the shop the previous week and not found what I wanted. Raced over to check out the website - and they didn't have my size!
Racer Back bra
Sports Bras - down and dirty
Now, how many styles of bra are there? Well, there are cross over backs (racer backs) - have you ever tried getting one of those on or off after a sweaty sports session? You could do yourself a serious mischief or pull a muscle! Besides, most of my T shirts are NOT racer backs and I am of the generation that doesn’t expect to display bra straps outside the gym. There are also zip up front sports bras. Tried those - after a few hours wear, the zip digs into you something cruel. That’s another one sent to the charity shop. I understand that bras are a fashion commodity in some countries, well they are welcome to that commodity as far as I am concerned. What does that leave? It should leave the standard, traditional, everyday sports bra, in black. Can’t get it. Not made!
The bras I don't want
Wrong Way to sell bras
Oh yes, I did get one recently, but I had to buy a white one to go with it. Why? They are only sold in packs of two, one black one white. “But I don’t want a white one”, I pointed out to the salesperson. “In fact, I would like two black ones” Yes, you’ve guessed it - if I wanted two black ones, I would have to take two white ones as well! And no, I couldn’t buy the two black ones and leave the two white ones for someone who only wanted white. I nearly refused point blank but I was desperate for decent support! The salesperson told me I could leave feedback on the website if I wanted. But the only feedback the website asks for does not include letting them know that you think their sales tactics leave a lot to be desired, or letting them know that their buyers are NOT providing what real people want to buy. If I went into a food shop to buy, let us say, a jar of mayonnaise, I might find an offer on with “buy one, get one free”, or “buy this and get that half price”. But the “get one free” would be a SIMILAR jar of mayonnaise, it wouldn’t be the low fat, if I were buying full fat or vice versa OR it would be my choice to get one of each, I wouldn’t be forced into taking what I didn’t want. Why should I be forced to take and pay for clothes I DON’T want, in order to obtain the ones I DO want?
I have tried some of the on line sports clothes retailers and found a black sports bra there but I would like to go back to Marks and Spencer because I know the sizing suits me. But until they sell what I want, I will have to go elsewhere.
Summer wedding outfit
Here’s another example. Summer here - not often we get that - some years it skips us altogether, so when it’s here, we make the most of it. I had a wedding to go to and had saved up money for an outfit. As it was summer, I decided I would buy a summer dress as well. I am retired. At the moment, we may be the youngest retired generation with any money to spare. Debenhams was one of the shops I chose to try. Some lovely looking dresses, nice strong colours and colourful, just right for summer. Went to try one on - there must be something wrong with the mirror in the changing room - doesn’t look like me at all! Is it the mirror? Was it the style? No, I don’t have a model figure and I didn’t expect to look like one. The dress fitted but looked awful and I still don’t know if the designer had something against older women or if the mirror was flawed. And I only found one dress in the whole store that I even wanted to try. I also tried the House of Frazer - couldn’t find even ONE summer dress or a wedding outfit I wanted to try there.
I was still looking for a summer dress when I found the John Lewis site online. Wow! Lovely looking dresses and the web browser allowed me to choose my size, so I didn’t have to look through all their offers, most of which were too small for me - the model sizes are the ones that get left! OK, but every time I looked at a dress, the browser “forgot” my size for looking at the next one. After 10 times of entering my size, I gave up. No matter how nice the dresses looked, I couldn’t be bothered looking through hundreds of them, to check if they had my size, nor re-entering my dress size EVERY time I wanted to look at another possibility.
Back to Marks and Spencer here. Yes, they had some nice dresses in my dress size but even though I am slightly above average height for a woman, the dresses were all too long. I don’t wear heels (see the next bit), so I couldn’t make myself taller. I refuse to trip over the hem of a dress that’s too long and I certainly don’t have time to find a dressmaker to take it up for me. They didn’t have any slightly shorter versions, so no dress there either.
What did I do? I went back to my wardrobe to see if I could re use a wedding outfit from a previous wedding a couple of years ago and found a dress that I had bought along with the wedding outfit and never worn - it still had the tags on. So I got my brand new wedding outfit without spending any money and gave up on getting a summer dress. By the way, that outfit came from a small independent retailer who sells clothes for REAL people - just not underwear - I might just go back there and stock up on some outfits for future use!
Update - unfortunately, that retailer is no longer available - the financial crisis in this country was just too much to take!
Training shoes for healthy feet
I have always hated shopping for shoes. My feet are wide and the general shoe stores do not cater for women with wide feet - they are expected to wear standard sizing and put up with it! And the specialist shoe stores are very expensive: it’s hard to justify that type of expenditure when you are trying to feed growing children.I remember many years ago shopping for shoes for a job interview and finding a lovely pair. Got through the interview fine but then had to walk quite a distance to the bus stop. I was nearly crippled by the time I got there. As I got closer to retirement, I had a little more spare money and decided to buy shoes from a specialist shoe store but still couldn’t find shoes that fitted properly, as well as feeling comfortable and didn’t look like boats on my feet. Closer and closer to retirement, I started wearing short boots - they were wider but didn’t have enough “spring” in the sole to make walking or even the odd bit of running comfortable. While I did my best to get good fitting shoes, I had a corn on the little toe on each foot and calluses on the soles of my feet.
I now wear trainers every day.
Update - I now get a daily "offer" from an online sportswear catalogue - Sportsdirect. They have a daily offer with a very good deal. Normally, there is nothing that I particularly need but today ONLY, they have men's shoes at 90% OFF - and they are in my size. Even if I hate them, the cost is not too much - and they look good, so going to try those!
Can you find comfortable footwear?
Since retirement, I have moved into wearing training shoes, all day, every day. I have no corns or calluses on my feet and I can still do the odd bit of jogging and should be doing more, though I often take a 3 mile hike around the local lighthouse and my feet feel fine. While I buy gents’ size 8 (because the women’s trainers are still too narrow), there doesn’t really seem to be any style difference between men’s and women’s trainers, unlike fashion shoes. So what did I do for the wedding? Many years ago, I bought a pair of very cheap black sandals. I have had them repaired at the cobbler’s shop, as necessary and keep them specially for those occasions!
Update: Today i did the three mile hike round the lighthouse AND walked out to my son's house and back again - another 3 miles AND did housework when I was there. Feet feel great in trainers. :)
UPDATE March 2017:
I have found a shop that sells shoes in a variety of widths and styles. I have bought two pairs and am very satisfied with them. One pair has small heels, the other pair is flat. BOTH are comfortable - hooray. But I still wear trainers almost every day and find these suit me best anyway. But for those who cannot or will not wear trainers or flat shoes, there ARE specialist shoe shops out there that can suit "difficult" feet.
Wake Up Big Shops
The big shops are not doing too well financially, many of them are losing money or have reduced profits. Do they really want to sell clothes? Do they want to make money? They need to sell clothes and underwear that people want to buy and that fit well, no matter their figure. Until they do, I will frequent the small independent clothes sellers that sell real clothes, wear trainers all day long and bring out my ancient sandals next time there’s a wedding. Oh, and I will continue to buy my sports bras online so I can get my dark coloured, traditional styles support for this ancient but fit and healthy figure. And I’ll keep my money I would have spent on clothes and put it towards a new computer!