shopping roundup

Wanted: 3 Lancôme skincare products.
Contestants: Hechts, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

Contestant #1, Hechts: I went there after work yesterday, maybe about 4:10 or so, found my way to the cosmetics counter and saw a woman on the other side (its a round display with pillar in the middle) and tried to move around to get her attention… she vanished. I moved around to the other side, she wasn’t there. Then I realized that she’d gone off to look at the clearance shoe rack, so I assumed that she was on break or didn’t really work that counter. So I waited for about 5 mins and no one showed up. I walked over to the MAC counter and asked if they knew of someone that could help me or if they just happened to see the Lancôme salesperson in the area. A woman from that counter took me over to the Clinique counter and said that maybe a woman here could help me. The Clinique rep said she’d try and walked with me back over to the Lancôme counter. I told her what I wanted, repeating it a few times when she came back with the wrong items, and eventually told me that she couldn’t find it, but if I waited a few more mins, surely someone would come back that could help me. So I continued to wait and eventually a woman with a very soft voice (something you can not have when working next to a MAC counter, since it sounds like a night club) eventually looked for what I asked for, again I had to repeat myself since she brought back the wrong merchandise and she eventually admitted that they were out of stock. It was about 4:40 by now and I asked when they might have them in. She whispered said, “Well we just got a shipment in, so it should be today.” I looked at my phone to see the time and asked just when today was she thinking it might appear? She didn’t seem to know that info, nor could she tell me any other stores in the area that carried what I wanted, so I thanked her and left. During this exchange sales reps from the MAC and Clinique counters were sort of leaning out from their own counters watching the whole exchange — I imagine that’s because it’s probably not a good idea to totally abandon your counter for products that the customer can’t just pick up and take to a register on their own.

Contestant #2, Sephora: I’ve only been to the local place one time to look for Alan Cumming’s fragrance. I visited the Sephora in Las Vegas because it’s the size of a warehouse, and it’s pretty amazing, everyone there is very professional and seem/act friendly. The one here at Pentagon City was “typical DC” — kinda sincere reps, kinda helpful, but mostly clockwatchers. I walked in today, the store was pretty empty and the sales reps looked at me but no one said anything, even though it was pretty clear I didn’t know how to navigate the store. Men’s fragrances are easy to find, but a specific skincare brand…? I was lost. I finally went up to the counter and asked if they sold Lancôme skincare products, the woman didn’t even take a beat before answering no. I stood there just long enough for my disappointment to register and said thank you and headed off.

Contestant #3, Nordstrom: Now anyone that’s been to Nordstrom knows they’re going to win on customer service, easily. As far as stock though, I wasn’t hopeful when I headed over there. As I entered the cosmetics department, one sales rep asked if I needed help and directed me to the Lancôme counter, once there, another rep asked what I wanted, pulled down two items off the shelf and asked me to wait a few minutes while he checked for the third. He came back 5 mins later, apologizing profusely for making me wait and then rung me up. While doing so, we had a brief chat about the products and how well they work for me, and if I thought they needed to develop more skincare products for men, etc. A very pleasant shopping experience, mostly because they had exactly what I was looking for.

Nordstrom Wins! Flawless Victory! Frankly, if their prices weren’t so insane all the time, it’s likely I would shop there more often, however I’m just not into spending $80 for an office dress shirt, or $300 for a pair of shoes that are just going to get beaten up on DC streets and metro. Their suit selection is rather nice, tho, and no matter what you look like when you come in there, they treat every customer like royalty.

As a bonus, while I was at Pentagon City, I ran into someone that I never officially dated, just remained physically friendly with on and off for a while. He says hi, gives me a big hug and pulls back saying, “Wow, you’ve lost weight!” – SCORE!

Note: After visiting Hechts and coming up empty, I went online to the various nearby stores to see if they even sold Lancôme. Eerily enough, all three (1, 2, 3) of them have the identical seasonal opening page and a search of stock shows they have exactly what I need… online. There’s no way to confirm in-store availability from any of the sites, however — that feature could have saved me a lot of time.

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