Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Mall Meanderings

Thanks to Eileen Tabios for the good words. It is nice to be praised for the weird stuff, tho obviously I do not consider my interest in malls weird. I do not try to explain my interest. It is a pre-existent condition. And persistent. I may even collect my many responses to commercial input in a separate blog. So today (Saturday), we could not resist another visit thru the commerce.

It really is of interest to Beth and me, the sense of the economy as figured in how the mall seems. We did, as it happens, pass by the mall yesterday, Black Friday. The parking lot looked full, and police details busily directed traffic. We skipped past to get food for a hungry betta.

Black Friday, the concept, is a nice bit of hopeful manipulation. The sense of infused desperation to get those discounts is overplayed, but effective. I recollect that Apple, for one, was actually pretty chary with its economy-invigourating price points last year. I know, it is fine for some of the population, to rise betimes and race to the store. I am not insensitive to saving money—hardly that!—but that there is little that I am needing to need by way of indiscretionary spending seasons my disinterest in rushing to consume. Don’t worry, I’ll consume. Soy Americano.

So Beth and I entered the mall and were immediately swept into the vortex of Eddie Bauer 25% Off All Merchandise. We both got a Mt Everest t-shirt. I like Eddie Bauer stuff. A fully-equipped manikin seems like a stark statement of the conditions to be met in places like Everest: just this against a sub-zero hurricane. They have a large tv screen showing a Bauer sponsored expedition to the big hill. Ed Viesturs is among those in the expedition. The video is worth a visit to the store. The music piped thru the store was something fatuous by Frank Sinatra, a Christmasy song with strained lyrics and melody with and Frank playing with the timing. Frank’s I don’t give a shit infuses my own. Purchasing an item gave us the opportunity also to get at smashing discount a mitten with an attached ice scraper. We did not make that purchase but it’s a cool idea.

From there we went to Nordstrom’s next, I think. To get there, we passed a string quartet playing selections from The Nutcracker, just to give some tone to the place. Giving further tone, the hawkers at the kiosks and carts tried a new (to me) tack: asking passersby: Can I ask you a question? No is the proper reply. It is intrusive, and as an introduction it could just as easily have been a question about my stance on abortion or life insurance.

In the window of Anthopologie (which is the phoniest store name, lame division, that I have noticed at the mall) had an answer for all those books that nobody apparently buys: an ostrich-sized bird made from books! The store sold clothes, women’s I think. We did not enter.

A red carpet was thrown down at the lower entrance to Nordstrom’s. This was a perp walk. Lined along the carpet were salespeople ready to share their perfume sample and belief therein with you. I think they spray strips of paper which then are dangled under willing noses. We declined.

I was disturbed that the carpet led nowhere, just stopped. I would have continued it, or delivered some attraction at its end. Otherwise it is just there to wipe your feet. Were our feet less dirty last week? We just breezed thru Nordstrom’s this time. Beth saw a nifty watch on the face of which was an anime figure. The figure, we were told, was the designer, one Beth had heard of. The $200 ties (and cheaper) were pretty good. Nice designs. Still, I did not see how the price of said woven Spidey-web was indicated in the quality of the ties as compared with mere $70 ones. Our exit coincided with “Santa Baby”, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, who knows.

The Apple Store, okay. It was even more spare now than it has been. They removed the counter at the front. Instead, near the middle, a table where purchases can be finalized sits. I would guess there were 15 red shirts (Apple store pros) in the store, possibly more, and maybe 10 customer groups. Possibly people are wore out from the discount that Steve Jobs allowed us to have on Black Friday. We actually got one of those tiny iPod Shuffles, auxiliary for Erin’s currently on the DL Zune. I should like to assert that Apple’s minimalism is leaving me behind. Not so much the tiny Shuffle but buttonlessness is no virtue. That wheel, I find with my Nano, is hard to control if hands are cold or you are wearing gloves. If you pocket the device you run the risk of the volume finding ways to go up up up or down down down. I do not, alas, feel that I am a better person because there are no buttons on the iPod. Steve, forgive me. I am just not minimal.

Pressing on to somewhere, I saw a man with a rake. At the mall. Maybe he purchased it at Sears, but if so why did he not leave by a side door. Flaunting that thing flouts the effort at upscaleness that the mall tries to express. How does the thing work, anyway, and how do you plug it in?

We made a pointed effort to find Abercrombie and Fitch because on our last visit we realized that we did not hear the thump of A&C’s background music. We checked the store listing and saw Abercrombie, listed as a children’s apparel store. Finding the store we saw that it was the murkiness we have come to expect from A&C, only directed younger. Did Fitch get religion or something? Where will all the sullen models go?

We entered J Crew this time, just to be efficient. I recall noting how lovely the place used to look, with lots of prime colours. They went batzoid with the snow theme. Crumpled shiny white paper glaringly suggested snow, I got that part. Up front there was a feature of women’s white tees. These tees were decorated with silver beads and what I take to be silver nano tubes, or they could just be metallic jimmies. The motif was reindeer, and that was all right, but does one wash said article of clothing? J Crew concedes the problem: additional beads and jimmies are supplied with the purchase. The white on white of the displays gave zero focus. I did not bother to investigate whether any men’s clothing got mixed in with the men’s apparel. I have shifted to Bauer Town.

We visited several women’s clothing stores. Beth did, I took the chair at the doorway. Ann Taylor had no chair, but it had a comfortable flow and roominess so I could get out of the way easily, and listen to the music.

Beth sought a dress, que possible. Chicos, which featured as decor ghastly gold trees made from tin foil, laughed at the idea. Beth was informed that nobody wears dresses, they’re old-fashioned. That point can be argued but the larger issue of course is how much you want to antagonize customers. We see that stores are choosing to go quite far in that direction. Good luck with that. I thought a good response to Can I help you? would be: Do you have carrion? Just a thought.

J Jill is similar to Chicos, but more positive as a shopping experience. It was set up more comfortably, and the music was better. John Lennon’s rather sanctimonious Christmas song was topped by George Harrison’s “Ring Out the Old Ring in the New”. I am not so happy with Harrison’s excursions with Phil Spector (the American Roman Polanski?), and neither was Harrison, but Harrison was good for some genuineness. The song made me happy. J Jill had dresses but nothing to go home with.

Stepped into a store featuring silver jewelry. Beth wanted to see a couple of pieces. The salesperson was crisply helpful and informative, at least what I witnessed. NO store that I saw at the mall was so busy that salespeople need to evaluate your clothing to see if you are worth helping. We were not going to buy, but you never know. A run on Days Poem could occur as people realize they want to read about Walden, hobos, bears, Fu Manchu, and Tarzan, and then I could get Beth the gifts that I want her to have. So don’t be a dick, salesperson.

A final purchase occurred at FYE (For Your Entertainment). This store is a relic, it sells cds and dvds. The experience of poking thru the bins for music or movies is kinda out the window, isn’t it. I went in knowing what I wanted, and capable of finding it. Star Trek. We watched it this Sunday morn, after family breakfast. It was satisfying. We have established Star Trek as our Thanksgiving movie.

That is largely my report. We went to Costco today, for some necessities. Ah, the delight! I will just mench that our car was parked next to a car with a license that matched ours 5 out of 6 digits, 3rd digit being X instead of Y. Which just shows to go you.