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Posts tagged ‘Nordstrom’

mall of no choice

Monday through Friday, between 8:00 to 9:00 PM, you can often find me wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood mall. By car, I can get from my door to Lloyd Center in 3 minutes, and I know the route well, because that’s where I go to decompress after my kids are in bed. This photo to the left is what I look like during the short drive to the mall. I’m like a wound-up addict, desperate for her next fix.

Lloyd Center has a reputation in Portland as being a crap mall, but it’s my home mall, so don’t talk sh*t about it to me. I could probably get through it blind-folded, which would be great because the blindfold would prevent me from having to look upon the horrific carpeting. As malls go, it’s relatively benign; judging from the Hot Topic, GameStop, and Alley Kat, the mall’s target demographic appears to be the disenfranchised tweener. It’s hard to really do that much harm in it as an adult, which makes it perfect for my purposes.


In any event, I don’t really go there to shop. At the end of a frenetic weekday, I want to go someplace where I can zone out and think about absolutely nothing.  It can’t be too quiet, or I’ll start thinking about my kids, or God forbid, work. And it’s best if, while I’m zoning out, I’m looking at something entertaining, like the underwear at Frederick’s of Hollywood, or a flat-iron demonstration performed by a man. So Lloyd Center it is.

At Lloyd Center, there are simple joys to be had. I usually start at Nordstrom, which is blissfully empty at 8:00 PM. I like the sunglasses department best. It’s a quiet little spot if you don’t mind trying on sunglasses with huge security devices attached to them. There’s usually only one employee staffing both Sunglasses and the department next door, so you won’t be harrassed by the distracted salesperson, who is focused on making sure that no one’s stealing any Spanx back in Hosiery. I’ve spent so much time in Sunglasses that I feel bad that I’ve returned every pair I’ve ever bought there. They can’t trace all those refunds back to me, though, because I have Tom, who will return stuff for me if I cry hard enough.  Refunds are awesome because anyone knows that when you return something, you’re actually making money.

After Nordstrom, I make a beeline for the center of the mall, which is where you will find the Trifecta, otherwise known as the only shoppable stores in the mall, otherwise known as 1) Forever 21; 2) the Gap; and 3) Cinnabon. I’ve enjoyed a lot of contented moments watching the figure skaters twirling around in the rink below while tearing into a pecan Minibon. The Minibon is my concession to health, because what my heart truly wants is a Wetzel Dog.

I am many things, but a person capable of ignoring a hot dog wrapped in buttery pretzel dough is not one of them. Sometimes I want a Wetzel Dog so badly that I have to walk past Wetzel’s Pretzels sideways, with my back to the display case where the Wetzel Dogs are kept. And sometimes even that doesn’t work, because I can still smell them. But if you approach the Trifecta from Nordstrom, you pass Cinnabon before you pass Wetzel’s Pretzels, so it generally works out. Because even I can’t eat a Wetzel Dog after a Minibon.

After my Minibon, sometimes I get a little parched, so I’ll walk a few stores down to Jamba Juice, which is always giving away samples at this hour. They are very chipper folks at Jamba Juice, and I hope to return their kindness one day by actually paying for a drink. I linger over my three Jamba Juice samples while perusing the offerings at Kay Jewelers, which calls itself a jeweler but should really be called “The Locket Store,” because so far as I can tell, it only offers 2000 iterations of the heart-shaped locket. Or I might enjoy my Jamba Juice samples while being massaged by a chair at Brookstone.  If I have extra time, I’ll head downstairs to Ellaris, which is a kiosk that sells cellphone covers. There are lots of fun choices, but only two will fit your phone–one is a subtle pink camo and the other inevitably has Hello Kitty on it. Take your pick. It’s one for $15, but you can get both for $20.

After popping in at F21 and the Gap, it’s time for dessert at See’s Candies, where I will put $1.05 on the debit card for a Maple Buttercream, and get two chocolates for free as samples. I don’t understand their business model, but I’m also not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The free ones usually have nuts in them, but I’ll choke them down while browsing the tweezers at my next and last stop, Trade Secret.

And that fills the hour, and brings me back to Nordstrom. If I’m back at Nordstrom by 8:55, I’m golden. That gives me time to buy Tom a latte at the Nordstrom espresso stand, which the barista starts shutting down at 8:45. It’s always hard to tell who is more annoyed by my order, the barista or me. Here’s my view: I’m sorry you already put the milk away, but maybe you should wait to close down until it’s actually, you know, closing time. That’s my only complaint about Lloyd Center, besides the carpet, and the elevators that smell like cheese. Otherwise, LCTID.

return to sender

My best friend Lindsay here is due to give birth any day now, and she is otherwise totally awesome.  As evidenced by this photo, we are so similar that we often show up at places wearing the exact same outfit, as we did today, at the OB/GYN (for unrelated appointments).  In fact, I’d venture to say that we are similar in most material ways but one.  It’s a difference that drives both of us insane.  And that difference is this: I am capable of  returning things, and she, poor thing, is not.

Once, I ordered $800 worth of suit separates from J. Crew, in different sizes, because the stores do not carry their full line of suits, and I wasn’t sure which pieces would work.  I do this often–I call it “saving time,” or alternatively, “giving my husband a coronary.”  Unfortunately, nothing in that particular batch worked, and I had to take $800 worth of clothing back to the store so they could process my mail order return.  I only recall this story to recount how red Linds’ face got when she threw a tantrum outside the store, and her cowardly refusal to enter the store with me.

As inexplicable as it is to her that I can return with impunity, it is more inexplicable to me that she has clothes in her closet from 2007 with the tags still on them.  Better to burn the money, I tell her.  She never listens.

Maybe you will, though.  Because returning stuff is not a crime.  You SHOULD return, because you work hard for your money, and you don’t need to feel pangs of remorse and recrimination every time you reach into your closet.  Retailers, desperate for your business, understand this.  That’s why they have return policies, and prepaid return shipping labels, and will willingly mail you three sizes of the exact same shoe.

Below, some of my favorite places to buy things, and then return them.

1. Nordstrom: the gold standard.  The urban legend is that the original Nordstrom in Seattle sits on the lot where an old tire store used to be, and that Nordstrom will still take returns on tires.  I’ve never tested that, but I do know that they will take clothing back after you have worn AND washed the item.  Still works after you’ve had the item for, say, a year.  Nordstrom took back a dress after I’d shortened the hem, and disclosed said fact.  I have returned shoes there for the sole reason that they were sprayed with champagne at a wedding.  I have returned half-empty tubes of moisturizer.  For these reasons, I will buy things there when I know I can get the same item at another store, for cheaper, and faster.

2. Zappos: I muse sometimes that I am still re-spending the same $100 I first spent at Zappos back in 2008.  Because that is how many times I have returned shoes to Zappos.  They make returns really, really, easy.  Print the pre-paid shipping label from your computer, package up the shoes in the box in which they were sent, and then leave the item out for USPS or UPS.  If you work in an office, chances are you already have a regularly scheduled UPS person picking up boxes on a daily basis, so you can just take the shoes to work.  Lest you feel guilty about how often you return shoes to Zappos, let me assure you that you will always be able to find the shoes cheaper elsewhere (Endless, Amazon, Piperlime, etc.).  You are paying a premium for the right to return.  Do not waste it.

3. Revolve Clothing: I know the jeans that work for me by brand and style number.  I usually just keep re-buying the same thing (nonetheless, stay tuned for a future post about jeans).  If you are the same, Revolve is the best website to buy your denim.  Revolve has the best selection of denim anywhere, they re-stock popular styles and sizes much more quickly than Shopbop, and you can often find discount codes online (I used “tulip” for 10% off last week, give it a try).  The shipping is free, and it’s 2-3 day.  Return shipping is also free.  Credits are posted within days.

4. ASOS: There are domestic returns, and then there are international returns.  I used to buy a lot of Boden for my boys, but got gun-shy after a return failed to make it back to the UK.  ASOS seems to have it worked out though, because they ship their internationally-designed product to U.S. customers from somewhere in Nevada, and that’s also where they process returns.   ASOS is an overwhelming site, but do what I do: focus on the ASOS house brands (ASOS Collection, ASOS White), which have all the directional, well-constructed stuff you want.  Remember to enter via the US ASOS site, not the UK site.  And remember that when you sort by category, “sweaters” are listed in non-alphabetical order, because, I suspect, sweaters are called “jumpers” in the UK.

Many happy returns.

**I am aware that there is an environmental impact caused by product being shipped and returned by air mail.  Notwithstanding this post, I do generally keep most of the merchandise I purchase, or at least 50% of it.  And because I shop online more than I shop in person, I like to think that I’m saving on gas and other global resources, like time.   It is always preferable to purchase things you love, and to keep them.  But when that isn’t possible, don’t be scared to return!