I know. I know. Often I complain (and this is the voice of someone who worked in a department store through high school) that customer service is a lost art. I don’t go to many stores now precisely because of the lack of customer service. Often I find myself wishing I was back in Japan filling up at a gas station where 5 attendants in matching suits come out to greet you with smiles and wipe down the inside of your car. Sigh. I miss great customer service and surely a sign of our demise as a culture is what passes for customer service in most places today—usually some child with no experience and a 100 word non grammatical vocabulary. I smile and get out.
But today I happened to be waiting for husband. We were in Reno running errands and I finished up my Whole Foods errand with a little time on my hands so I walked over to Pier 1.
To be fair, I haven’t gone to Pier 1 since I went to Southeast Asia in 2002. Somehow a day in Chaing Mai made me feel like Pier 1 was actually ripping me off–despite my love of all things cheap and colorful. In college I used to buy dresses there. They had great stuff cut nicely for those of us with hourglass figures.
But Pier 1 is not the Pier 1 of our youth. Apparently. They of course have made a concerted effort to not look cheap and to look like they are geared more upscale. I moved on to World Market; Pier 1 moved on to upscale suburbs.
Walking into Pier 1 in Reno today was nerve wracking. Unless you are a size 2 you can’t get through the corridors, there’s too much piled too high, and if you see something on display you can’t really find it anywhere. I saw a table runner I was interested in but couldn’t find it in the table runner section. I was going to casually ask someone to help me as I was looking at some very cool dishes with peacocks on them which I was 95% sure I was going to buy.
But then the customer service kicked in. Pier 1 had not one but 4 OVERLY LOUD, OVERLY “HELPFUL” overweight suburban women in mom jeans that attacked with fake friendliness. It was too much for me to take. I was in there to kill time and be alone and possibly pick up some Eastery items for the kids.
The first woman to help me said she loved the peacock plates. Who was I shopping for? Myself ? A friend? A family member? For the record, I hate answering questions. Especially rapid fire ones. Then the helpful mom-jeans lady told me that she LOVES the peacock plates and she was going to buy them herself.
And in my head, I snapped. Am I that old? Am I the age that I like the same things as drab women in khaki mom jeans? Have I turned frumpy? Who dressed these women? Pier 1 Imports used to have the nose ringed set in there. Those chicks looked like they personally went to Southeast Asia and bought the wares and brought them back here. But the extras from the Fargo movie were just scary. I didn’t want to buy the peacock plates anymore if she had them in her house. Pier 1 was supposed to make you feel unique. Instead I felt like I was in a Wal-Mart with slightly better lighting.
The other three zealots were equally obnoxious. And from their slovenly generic Wal-Mart appearance, I didn’t want to buy anything they liked or had in their houses either. I’m guessing Pier 1 probably had a camera on them to make sure they approached everyone. Fascist Pier 1.
After the fourth one cornered me, I gave up and left. Next time, I’ll just run the errands and head to Goodwill or World Market–or the ultimate in quiet–online shopping. Yeah, I know it is horrible for me to think these things, but I did.