Why Hide the Plus-Sizers?
Unbelievable Retail Bias Towards Larger Women
Okay, so I'm one of the plus-size women of the world, recently shell-shocked by the results of a renovation at a retail chain store I have shopped at for over 10 years. And believe me, I shopped. All my family home goods, clothes, and small appliances were purchased at this store. There was always something to find when I needed it. Most important of all, I could find quality clothing for my ample frame. Walking through the women's department, past the junior and petite sizes, and next to women's sportswear, I could find anything I needed for work, home, and play. Until the renovation.
My favorite store decided to renovate upstairs and down. Prior to the renovation, all women's clothing was together, on the first-floor level as you entered the store. The upper level of the store housed the children's section, shoes, kitchen and bath, and home goods. Bathrooms and customer service were also located upstairs. As a frequent shopper, I was excited to see what the changes would bring. Until the renovation.
Armed with my "new grand opening" coupons, I entered the store with excited anticipation and the urge to buy some new business clothes. I started looking for the "women's" (code word for thick-middle, big-busted, and/or expansion-trunk sized) department. After walking the entire layout of the lower-level, I started to worry. Where were my new clothes? All the other women's clothes were here, and even the college men's sweatshirts that had previously been upstairs near the smelly sneakers and storage elevator.
I took the elevator to the second floor and walked the perimieter. Nothing. Children's clothes, lingere, home goods, luggage, bathrooms, customer service. Wait. What was that? Between the bathrooms and luggage. A small area with a sign "Women."
In a nutshell, the women's department had been removed from the main floor, decreased in size by more than half, was located in the furthest corner of the store on the upper level, between the bathrooms and luggage, and - to make things worse - there was no dressing room.
Obviously, the renovation wasn't complete, right? That had to be the answer! I thought I would go check on that, so I waved down a salesperson and asked the questions.
"What happened to the women's department?
Do you not carry plus-size business clothes anymore?
What dressing room do we use?
Is this location temporary?
No answers. Just a blank stare and "You should talk to the manager."
Management says you have to use the children's dressing room. The fact that the doors are very short and the dressing rooms are very small is not their concern. The store manager didn't make the rules, after all. Yes, the renovation is complete. No, they are not carrying women's business clothing or suits. We're really sorry, but this is the way it is.
I am incredulous. I am seething with anger. I am doing everything possible not to cry (out of sheer shock and frustration). Is this their opinion of larger women? Hide us in the outermost part of the store, where there are NO OTHER CLOTHES for adults sold? Don't we rate our own dressing room? Don't we have jobs in the business sector that require quality clothing? Are you really telling me - a loyal plus-size customer - that this is what you think of me?
I suggest the manager share my concerns, and the concerns of two other customers who overheard our exchange as we discussed this idiotic decision by the powers-that-be, with her superiors. I said I would come back to the store in a month or so to see if changes had been made to rectify this injustice.
The manager said, "Why don't you just call first?"
I have not been back. It's been over a year. I drive by the store almost daily and still feel an awful twinge inside, wondering how, in the 21st century, a corporation still thinks that someone size 14 and over should have to shop between the luggage and bathroom, without a dressing room, hidden away from the "really important customers," which is everybody else.