H&M: What The Hell Went Wrong?

(Previously posted 2007-09-10)

I will advise you this: unless you go on a middle weekday evening and have a high tolerance for belligerent and convincingly mentally retarded shoppers who probably dressed themselves in the dark while drunk, don’t bother. Or medicate yourself as required beforehand.

Perhaps I built the store up too highly in my mind. In London, the H&Ms had funky mod cuts that challenged the average shopper to broaden their wardrobe horizons; and at an affordable price. Their staff were fairly knowledgeable about what was in stock, what was expected to arrive soon and where things were located throughout the store.

I was looking for highlighted items from most of their advertising. Choice dresses and double-breasted coats were on the docket for purchase. I found one grey shift dress out of the group, in a size 14 (?!). Also, to build on the sizing mystery about this store’s layout; it seems that the sizes are stacked from largest up front to the smallest up back which would contradict every other retail experience I have had previously.

The staff were largely teenagers that had no idea what the hell they were doing, or where they were going. Granted, it was a gong show in there, but I expected more proper staffing and scheduling. Slobbish customers were tossing things wherever and creating quite a mess; though I still don’t find this an acceptable excuse for the lack of actual customer service individuals manning the change rooms, tills, and assisting with the finding of garments.

After I managed to find approx. 6 items that caught my eye, it was an approximate 20-25 minute wait for a change room. My friends Quentin & Stephanie had made the trek with me from Vancouver, and I had previously done a pilgrimage all the way from Abbotsford, so there was no way I was going to drop everything and leave. We waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually we were permitted entry.

That being said, what I eventually found was cool, but not spectacular. I ended up getting a black knit dress ($35), a silver skinny tie ($15), a red & blue gingham long sleeve button up shirt ($30), black knit leg warmers ($8) and [my personal pick of the trip] a black utilitarian medium-sized messenger bag with an adjustable strap ($30).

Despite all of this, I will be giving this store one more shot, next weekend when the holiday traffic won’t force me to contemplate retail-induced suicide (and all of you cynics who believe shopping must be put off until after a holiday weekend, hush…it’s not a realistic thought for the majority of us).

I’d like to have a comb through all of the stock after it has been replenished, which I was told by some slack-jawed cashier “every day, or every other day”. Perhaps I am holding onto a failed dream of affordable euro-style clothing for North American masses. Perhaps I am foolish to think that we would be shipped a lot worth a second glance by the savvy, stylish European shopper.

I once had a dream that was H&M. It certainly didn’t involve any of this.


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