Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm a Precious Petite Snowflake: Retail Edition

There are many perks to being petite. Flying coach isn’t too horrible. I have a built-in conversation starter, as I can ask complete strangers (and cute boys) to reach things for me. It keeps me looking young. Plus, as my clothes are small, it takes a lot longer for me to amass a full load of laundry. In summer especially, I can go at least two weeks without doing the washing.

But there are disadvantages as well. I can’t reach overhead bars on the Metro. I spend most shows crammed into strangers' armpits. I have been known to greet houseguests with, “Hi! Can I get you a drink? How tall are you? Over 5’8”? Fabulous, I just have a few small things I need from that cabinet there on the left….” Plus, I always get shoved into the front row in group photos. This just increases the creeped-out feeling I get whenever my picture is taken.

But the biggest issue is shopping. No, I have no trouble finding clothes that fit. Most women believe that their bodies are precious little snowflakes, and that no retail institution can possibly accommodate their anatomical quirks and perceived deficiencies. But I believe that with a little creativity and some light tailoring, anyone can find clothes that fit. (Hint for my fellow non-curvy petites: the teen department at Nordstrom! High fashion, dirt cheap.)

No, my issue is the stupid way that stores lay out their clothes. Most shops will lay out their smaller sizes on the top row, running sequentially until the plus-size clothes are on the bottom.

Newsflash, Gap: if a woman is under a size 6, she’s probably not very tall. So why do you put your small-size jeans where only a nine-foot Amazon can reach them? And, Vicky’s Secret, why are the small-band and small-cup bras all the way on the top row? Do you think that all of your patrons are built like a giant bamboo stick with two acorns attached? Shoe stores do this as well, meaning that my 5.5’s are usually suspended somewhere near the rafters.

But my favorite is when petite specialty shops and departments stack items far above where their customers can reach. Petite means 5’4” and under. You’ve decided to specialize in short chicks, but did you actually consult any of us? Oh, that’s nice, Macy’s, I’m guessing you’d like to just not sell any clothes today.

Retail institutions of America, swap the order. Stack the big sizes on the top, running down to the smaller sizes on the bottom. It’s not that hard.

Anybody got a retail peeve they’d like to share? In honor of National Delurking Week, I’d especially like to hear from people who haven’t commented before. And boys, speak up too. What do you hate about shopping? (Besides, “all of it.”)


Arjewtino said...

What do I hate about shopping? Wow. Let's see. Employees who ask me if I need help when I'm clearly browsing. The overhead crappy music. The other people shopping who are unaware of how obtrusive they can be.

So, yeah, in a word: "everything".

Shannon said...

Sir, may I assist you? Sir? Sir? SIR?!?!?!!

Of course, that same clerk will vanish when you really DO need help.

minty said...

The best part is when a clerk at the store register "forgets" to deactivate a sensor that's attached to a shirt cuff or a pant leg. The bwah-bwah-bwah alarm in the doorway is priceless, as it alerts my head-craning, suspicious fellow shoppers.

Kristen S. said...

Peeve: when there's a customer at the cash register who wants to apply for the store's credit card, and rather than helping the next people in line while the customer fills out the form, the cashier just stands there and waits. At Macy's once, this happened with 3 customers in a row. I hate Macy's.