An opportunity for clothing retailers: Here is what we would like you to know

 

Let’s turn a difficult time into an opportunity and let struggling clothing retailers know what we, the customers, want them to understand in order to keep us around.  It is time to rethink your stores.

Every day begins with a new headline as one of our favorite retailers declares bankruptcy and is forced with shutting down locations. The list gets longer and longer and began before the pandemic.  I can just imagine the conversations taking place in their boardrooms but hope they might listen to those of us who consider spending money either in store, online, or with them at all. 

 

HERE IS ONE EXAMPLE

 

In San Antonio, Stein Mart has traditionally done well and been a favorite stop of many of my friends.  However, I was not surprised to see them enter the trouble area recently.  Their stores, merchandising, and merchandise began to change in recent years, and more and more of us stopped shopping.

You are looking at pictures I recently took at a nearby location because I was so surprised at what I was looking at.  The black sweatshirt at the end of the rack in the first photo is just that…a black sweatshirt with pieces of fabric tacked to it.

  Throughout the store,  you see no clear direction of the type of women they are targeting.  That was not always the case.   I heard they wanted to target younger women, but when I look at the clothing, I do not think younger women would want to be see in it.

They got rid of the department that the majority of us over 50 ladies liked…The Boutique.  Which was more of a casual chic style. They also made the accessory area smaller and that is where I spent most of my time when I stopped by.  The store is cluttered and not easy to navigate. It is a great example of a confused leadership that has no idea what to do.

 

WHAT I WOULD LIKE RETAILERS TO CONSIDER

 

Here are the key points I would like the retailers to know, and I encourage you to put your ideas in the comments below…because I think we all want to see our favorite brick and mortar locations stick around.

  1. If your local and state government allows dressing rooms to be open, then do what it takes to open them. I am not spending time or money at places where there are no dressing rooms available. (I hope Marshall’s and Kohls are listening in San Antonio)
  2. Make sure your store is inviting…clean, organized, with fashion displays (unlike the ones in this post) which help me to visualize ways to wear what you are selling. It also helps to add touches of the décor that is seasonal and makes your store warm and cozy and inviting. (Chicos, Talbots and Soft Surroundings do this well)
  3. Don’t try to be all things to all women…decide your targets and go for them. If a department store, then have areas of the store which serve the different target audiences. (Dillard’s does this well)
  4. Learn lessons from small businesses…be more personable and train your employees to give great customer service no matter the price points of your business. Treat all customers as if they are potentials to return to your department when you are there. Contact them when there is merchandise you know they might look for….offer a service, not just a body.    
  5. Turn your store into a place where women can gather and learn from seminars, fashion shows, and speakers. Make it a place your customer longs to go by on a regular basis.
  6. Think more about the needs women have in this new world and not just about what the fashion industry says. I recently read an article from Cosmopolitan about the Fall Fashion Trends.  I do not know many everyday women (of most ages) who would wear anywhere the trends in that article.  It is time to listen to focus groups and not to the pages of fashion magazines. 

If you do not want women to just order online constantly, then fight for the customers.  If you continue to operate status quo, then sadly more of your audience will stay away.  As we discover vaccines and more customers are willing to shop again, you need to do something that communicates you are still in the game and you want us there…to serve us.

These are all things that traditionally kept women going to stores, and I believe it is time to return to the basics.  It will take managers and leaders who have excitement for the future and see there are opportunities…especially with the over 50 group.

 

YOUR TURN

 

I truly hope this post will be shared with retail professionals and desire that it make a difference, so please voice your opinion as well.  What do you wish to say to those in the industry about  shopping in-store?  If you are not ever going to return, then tell them why and if things need to change for your return, then tell them what.

I do enjoy shopping online, and, of course, have links for you today….but there is just something about in-store shopping the way it was that is so enjoyable.  I would love to see it return with engaging atmosphere and exceptional customer service.   If there are going to be fewer locations, then make them truly special!  Maybe things will never return to what they were…but I want to believe they can and that I made an effort to help.

Thoughts anyone?  Thank you for being here…let’s see if we can make a difference.

KEEP SMILING!!

A FEW OF THE CLOTHING RETAILERS I LOVE TO SUPPORT: (Shopping through these links supports this blog…thank you!)

Chicos

Talbots

Soft Surroundings

Nordstrom

Nordstrom Rack

Macys

Lands End

Kohl’s

 

JUST A NOTE:

Taking Juice Plus+ for seven years on Over 50 Feeling 40

There are several ways that I generate income through this blog in order to cover business expenses and give myself much needed income.  Purchases through the slideshow links is one way, ads on the page is one way and a new way is through ordering or re-ordering Juice Plus+ whole food capsules.  Please read my story and information HERE.

 

 

ADD SOME APPLE CIDER!

Pamela Lutrell and Goli

Another way is through ordering or re-ordering the GOLI Apple Cider Vinegar gummies through me with my GOLI LINK HERE.  Again, if you are not familiar with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you should speak with your personal physician.  My husband and I are sold on the benefits and I am proud to represent this product.  I am going to leave this at the bottom of my posts so that when you, friends or family would like to order you can use my link.  Thanks for the support.  This is a great product; as well as, the ones below!

 

 

MY COMPLEXION LOVES CHAMONIX…MY ESTHETICIAN SAYS MY SKIN IS SUPER TIGHT!

Chamonix on Over 50 Feeling 40

All natural, plant-cell technology skincare

 

 

By Pamela Lutrell

54 Comments

  1. before i go any further, chicos is having a flash sale, that ruana in the above picture can be yours for 30 bucks today, and i started out over a hundred…yes i grabbed it, no i have no idea what i will do with it.
    anyway to the retailers….two things, first, please stop cramming so many items on a rack you cant even see them, if you need more space, roll out another rack because im walking away if its physical labor just to see it…i get a good enough workout in the fitting room.
    secondly, training personnel….last time i was in a victorias secret was 2010, they looked at me liked , “whats she doing in here?”….i just walked out, i said nothing but what i wanted to say was…what you are really selling in here, i have more knowledge of in my little finger than you have in your brain…..and you could have made a fairly decent commission off me, because my finances are sound.
    worked out for me, though, i then discovered Soma’s, which I have adored ever since, both their products and their employees.

  2. Agree with all your comments. But I do like the blouse on the left because I am always attracted to cut,clever prints. The outfit on the right is not a keeper. Do not care for the mix of print and denim. We will miss our Stein Marts here too. Too bad. Hope all the other retailers can hang on.,esp. Chicos, Soft Surroundngs and others that offer the kind of elegant,mature clothes I am after.
    Have a good week,stay safe and keep those blogs coming!

  3. The women that have the money to spend on clothes are over 50. We have worked, saved and invested our money and we have disposable income to buy what we want. Cater to us.

  4. One of the things this epidemic has changed is the way we shop. You made some very good points about displays and how to keep the customers coming back. I miss clothes shopping. I live in a rural area so there is not many stores available for me. I have always said that the stores should cater more to the mature woman. I am thinking classic clothes that you can wear for a long time. I am not fond of rhinestones on my clothes. They must find a way to have fitting rooms available. If I have to travel 150 miles to buy my clothes, then I better be able to try them on. If they don’t have the dressing rooms, then I will stay home and order online. I am getting better at guessing my size before I order, but sometimes the material isn’t right, style, etc. Hopefully the stores in the cities will survive this pandemic.

  5. I agree with all of your suggestions, Pam, and the other comments above. Clean, well organized stores are a must, as well as clean, well lit dressing rooms. Better quality selections of items displayed as possible outfits. Separate departments for different age groups/life stages. We all want to look good, regardless of age, profession, life stage, etc.! Make us feel special when we step through the door

  6. Great article I find it harder and harder to find what I feel is flattering for me. I do shop Chico’s but I feel their heading off the rails again with their styles. They have a niche market with the mature woman I wish they would keep that in mind.

  7. My message and simply put; ‘If I am expected to pay a high-end ticket price, then I expect the item to reflect it in both quality and workmanship’. -Brenda-

  8. Not worried about dressing rooms, but agree that there is a great market for women over 50 who neither want faddish or frumpy – and yes, easy returns when it’s not possible to try on!
    Thank you for blogs that navigate the stores!

  9. I have worked hard the last couple of years to develop a pared down, cohesive wardrobe where everything mixes and matches. So I now am willing to buy quality over quantity. Here are a couple of gripes:

    1. A really great sweater, top, etc. and it only comes in ONE color. Really?
    2. Expensive sweaters and tee shirts that are so thin the first time you wear one it has a hole in it. Really?
    3. Clothes that are all stand alone pieces. Nothing coordinates. Really?
    4. Every top is oversized. Really?
    5. You go to the trouble to walk into a store and it is so packed with stuff you can’t see or find anything. And most of the stuff is junk. Really?

    I could go on but these are my main complaints.

  10. You hit the nail on the head. I have rarely been happy with any online purchase and resent spending money to try things on – which is exactly what it amounts to when I have to send something back – not to mention the inconvenience. And yes to the dressing rooms! It’s laziness on the part of retailers that don’t want to expend the extra manpower to open them. VonMaur, a large department store in our area, has theirs open. I truly want our brick and mortar stores to succeed – and my credit card bills show I’m doing my part!

  11. Thank you, Pam! First Dress Barn went out of business and now SteinMart, my other favorite store for inexpensive clothing for mature women, is going downhill fast. I was just there last week after months of no clothes shopping and I couldn’t believe the changes. It was a ghost town and very disorganized. And not being able to try on clothing??? They had all the mirrors on the floor covered with paper so you couldn’t even hold up a garment to your body! Sorry Steinmart…I won’t be back.

    1. I agree with so much all of you have said. I’m in my 60’s and don’t want to dress like my grandma use too. Nor do I want clothes that I would have worn in my 20’s. Clothing designers and stores are missing out on a group of women who want well made clothes from fabric that’s not thin or cheaply made. I like others live in a rural area and have to drive an hour to a retail store. I want to try on my clothes. Find a way to clean the dressing rooms and open them up again, please. Thank you, Pamela for your blog.

  12. I call clothing such as pictured One and Done. Even people who might enjoy wearing them, and have an appropriate place to go wearing them, aren’t going to wear them more than once or twice. Disposable clothing. Instead of having a wardrobe of clothes that you can combine in creative, memorable ways, these items are “faux” creative. I still enjoy JJill and Chico’s and Talbots but except for sales their price point is out of reach for many. I wish Target and Walmart would develop in-house departments of casual wear made of curated, dependable quality, coordinated items that could be added to season after season—sizes and colors that are consistent, so that everyone can enjoy accumulating a flattering, coordinated wardrobe. Who are the designers, buyers, store executives? Why aren’t we hearing from them about why they are doing this?

  13. Very well said Pamela. Yes Stein Mart changed and it was their demise and the pandemic just accelerated that. In order for brick and mortar clothing stores to stay solvent they will have to open fitting rooms and do what needs to be done to sanitize rooms and clothing. I have ordered from Chico’s and J Jill and do want to support local stores but no point if clothes can’t be tried on. Thanks for your insight and daily posts.

  14. I agree with all of your points. Small shops excel at knowing their customer’s needs and help them to look their best with their purchase not just selling them something they will never wear.

  15. It’s cute, but for someone who carries their weight in their mid section, I wish more retailers would make longer garments. So many shirts and jackets these days are short and are not an option for me.

    1. Bravo, Pam! A couple of points … with incredible seasonal sales, it is very, very possible to find decent quality clothes from Chico’s, Talbots etc for the price of Steinmart. I found Steinmart -except for accessories – to be totally irrelevant the last few years. Also, I find the department stores organize for their convenience, by vendor. The last time I looked for black pants at Macy’s, it took an entire afternoon as I had to wander from designer to designer. I wear basics then add my own fun pieces or touches. That brings me to, your store should be 80 percent basics. That’s what I buy and am more likely to pay full price for. If you are a retail ceo, look at your 70 percent off sale racks (if you can, as they are so jammed you will find much of it on the floor). Those are the clothes you lost money on. They are cheap, flashy, over embellished and in horrible colors. Why are you then bringing in more of that? And finally, quit treating the plus size customer as a shameful afterthought with a tiny department in the back of the store. We like clothes too, and often are masters of accessorizing and shop plenty at your shoe, purse and jewelry departments if we feel welcome in your store.

  16. Retailers would be wise to take note of these ideas!
    I totally agree.
    I prefer to shop in store for many reasons.
    But, I will not shop one where I am disrespected! In my experience, it can be stores with younger or older workers and in high or lower ended retailers.
    I will frequent a place more for their considerate service and inviting atmosphere than not.

  17. This is a great topic to discuss thanks Pam. Too many times women are age our overlooked and pushed aside for the younger set which is a mistake. Many of us are financially sound and loyal customers. I love quality clothes that are keepers…..clothes that our elegant and timeless, like Caroline Herrara which ofcourse I cannot afford. I have a thing for dresses-beautiful tea dresses like the British label Suzannah or LK Bennett, Lafayette 148 ,dresses with sleeves and waists and gorgeous fabrics. Why can’t there be more affordaable versions made for women….many of the clothes in the stores are un- interesting and unimaginative and cheap looking. On a plus side I spend a lot of time at Talbots and Nordtsrom because there I can find a sales person who can genuinely give me advice about clothes and I can often trust to “steer me in the right direction”. I really like Talbots because of the strong customer relationship. The stores are fun to be in and I like the deals especially. More of that please! I recently bought some clothes from MANGO online -two dresses in a sale- and it cost me just under $20.00 to ship back for a return, because of sizing issues, and when I complained about this hidden cost nobody cared. So I won’t shop at MANGO again. As opposed to Nordtsrom which has an excellent return policy. Customers should be respected bottom line and our age group especially.

  18. I have experienced the snub from younger staff that implies ” what are you doing in this store” and it must be corrected. Perhaps I am shopping for a granddaughter or neice, they don’t know what sales they are missing out on. I prefer to shop in a store that is personable not just racks stuffed full. I agree, a store must imply what demografic they are after, and let us decide if we are shopping there. I have been know to look for accessories in a much younger store just for fun, but leave when totally ignored. I worked in retail when much younger and we were educated on how to interact and follow up and I think that has to be brought back. I do wish we had Soft Surroundings and Dillards in Canada because they look so inviting to shop in. I must admit our Additionelle store locally has great staff that are willing to help and advise, this brings me back and I hope they are able to weather this time. Pam, I do hope this is a small voice that is heard by the right people and good for you for trying to get the word out that we are as strong group of women who have money to make a difference.

  19. A couple of years ago, I felt a nice blazer would be a good addition to my wardrobe, something I could wear with jeans, chinos, or dress pants. I live near the Mall, so I started at Macy’s. I thought I knew where the plus department was—but it didn’t seem to be there. I found petites, and many misses’ departments, but not plus or women’s. Eventually I found a narrow strip of suits and separates. Surely they had more? But by that time, I was annoyed and went home. Still haven’t bought a blazer. Also have not gone back to Macy’s.

  20. This is one your best articles, Pam!!! I, too, hope retail is listening and I couldn’t have said it better myself. And you’re right … Soft Surroundings and Chicos/Soma treat everyone who walks in as if they are glad to see you and ready to listen and help, regardless of age/size .

  21. All excellent points. I need to see and feel the material and actually try on the clothes before I buy them. Not many of us are a “perfect size” so dressing rooms must be open.

  22. I agree with the points you made here. Especially that they need to keep dressing rooms open. Keep the stores open for those of us who want to try on before we buy. And yes, determine your target group and do the best job right there. Too much emphasis is put on trends, which doesn’t work for everyone. Stop cramming racks, replace things that have fallen half way off hangers. Think of presentation. There is so much to say here, and you really covered it Pam.

  23. I agree with you that retailers need to change. They need to provide service to their customer – not simply a person to complete the sales transaction. In addition, retailers need to provide adequate sizing for a mature woman. I am five feet tall and curvy. Once Petite Sophisticate closed, it has been extremely difficult to find proportional clothing. Another thing, if retailers are going to discriminate and charge $10 more for plus sizes based falsely on “extra cost of fabric” then why are they not discounting the cost of smaller sizes.?

  24. I know this article is not really about the garments we want and more about the shopping experience so I will address that. Fitting Rooms. The single biggest advantage to shopping in store is trying things on. Everything I bought recently, online or in-store without a try on, went back. I have a difference of opinion about the helpful sales clerk. I feel like I have a very particular style and know what I like. A complete stranger couldn’t possibly know what I might like. Please leave me alone. My 20 something feels the same. Might be an age thing?

  25. I enjoy (oops, enjoyed) going clothes shopping at the few stores we have here but since the “lockdown” and “re-opening” things are not the same. Dillards has their dressing rooms open but no one else here does. I think it’s just because they don’t want to spend a little extra time and money to keep their dressing rooms clean. Personally I don’t think I need to have a disinfected dressing room — I’m not moving in; I’m just trying on a few items. I will not shop where I cannot try on clothes — it’s hard enough at this age (and body shape) to find things that fit and are half way attractive and of decent quality even in the “better” stores.

    Unfortunately, I think the trend is going toward online shopping more and more. And those stores that provide free shipping and free returns will be doing a great deal of business. They will have mine for sure!

  26. This is a great article. Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking. I also want to encourage women to visit outlets for many of the stores mentioned. I get better assistance there then I do at many of the these traditional retail brand stores. The chat features on many of the websites now are also excellent. Using them often makes me feel like I’m using a personal shopper.

  27. BRAVA…..I sincerely hope some of our retailers see and digest your writings. The area in which I live, right now, is a wasteland as far as department stores – therefore, I have to rely on internet and mail-order. I am a retired seamstress and what I see in garments makes me want to cry.

  28. Great article, Pam! Another idea for retailers would be to better communicate with their sales staff to get their opinions as to what their customers are asking for. As a former sales clerk at Chicos I remember garments coming in that we all knew would end up on a sales rack in a few weeks – and they did. Also they need to paint and install new flooring and lighting when needed to keep their stores looking fresh. Another suggestion would be to make shopping fun again by giving stores funds to host parties and fashion shows (once the pandemic is over). This all takes money, but it’s necessary to keep customers coming back. We need our brick and mortar stores and malls. Shopping is a major and enjoyable pastime for many of us!

  29. Great topic, Pam! First and foremost is great service. Friendly and helpful is great, and I like suggestions. If not for me, I will pass but I have made some great purchases because of the suggestion of a great sales associate. Nordstrom’s is my preferred retailer because of the great service and the lack of hassles when returning. I purchase way more than I return. I shop online, but love the in store experience. Second, recognize that over 50 women have the money. I have a large closet, but I am a professional and need a wardrobe that works for my career. I also love travel (will again). Since I have a wardrobe I am pretty happy with, I shop selectively. BUT I am now treating myself to luxury shoes and handbags. I the last 9 months, I have purchased more than a dozen luxury items that I love – all were purchased from Nordstrom’s except for one Saint Laurent clutch and one preloved item. Also know that I can be generous gift giver. I have introduced my goddaughter to Nordstrom’s and encourage her to treat herself on my account. Third, classic style and excellent quality and sustainability are important to me. I want items I can wear for years and feel confident and stylish. Natural fabrics are my preference. Price is less of an issue – if the quality is good, I will figure out if the item is worth the price. Reward programs like Nordstrom Notes are valuable to me. Finally overcrowded stores and rails are annoying. I suspect this will change based on visits to some stores recently. I very much want my favorite retailers – Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Chico’s, Talbots, Soft Surroundings, JJill – to survive so I will shop. Thanks Pam for a great discussion.

  30. This was a very good post. You have covered many of the points my daughter and I have talked about. I have written to my stores when they have hired the younger set and you can not find an adult woman who knows what customer service is to help you. I wish the stores would realize I am not my grandma or my granddaughter in styles. Just because I am older does not mean I want to look like I am 20 and I do not dress like my grandma did. I value quality whether a garment is from TJ Maxx or Nordstrom and want to wear my clothes for more than one season. My daughter is a professional work woman and she struggles to find that style of clothing to wear to work and also buys clothes that will last for a long time. I agree with the statement above that retailers need to listen to their customers and not fashion magazines. Maybe they should have a place where you can give written feed back within the store.

    1. I wanted to step in here and say everyone is doing great with comments. If you want these to be seen, then share the post on your Facebook pages…let’s build one big voice and see if we will be heard!! Share the post!

    2. I agree with many of the above comments and shop at the stores mentioned as well as some boutiques in my area. I have become a huge fan of Shepherds Fashions in Ottawa Canada, a store you highlighted in your blog some months ago. They do some amazing online fashion shows, have a YouTube channel and really cater to customers all over Canada and the US. I have ordered from them during the shutdown and have continued to do so since the exchange rate is close to 30%. In my opinion, they do so many things right.

  31. Excellent post Pam. Very well said and I couldn’t agree any more with all of your points. I hope to eventually get back to shopping when I feel a bit safer going out. But for now will shop my closet! Blessings.

  32. Pam, you stated so eloquently what so many of us are thinking these days! Thank you for putting these thoughts/needs into an easy to read format. Are you mailing this to retailers? PLEASE DO. I also will not shop at a store that does not have open fitting rooms. I am tired of purchasing online and sending back….again. Ugh. I love Talbots! Their stores are easy to navigate, not to crammed, well divided by type of clothing and they have managed to keep their fitting rooms open! Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable and I just love to visit there! It feels to me like stopping in to visit with friends! I also love Dillards, but am so disappointed that there is NEVER a sales person around. I usually have to search to find someone to check me out. So frustrating, and also frustrating if I am stuck in a fitting room and need a different size. And Von Maur does an excellent job of keeping nice clean, bright stores, easily navigated and they hire very friendly staff who they train and are helpful but not too pushy. I agree with so many of the other comments, so no need to repeat. We over 50’s do like to see, touch, and try on and have the time and the financial means to enjoy this experience. Why won’t the retailers as US what we prefer? Enough said. Thanks!

  33. Great post! As a person who thrives on the neat & orderly, please keep your store & dressing rooms clean & clutter free, & to those shopping, don’t throw your trash away in the dressing room. That is just plain rude & often gross. Being a plus size does not mean I want to oversize garments that fit poorly, nor do I want sleeves that are so long that they cover my hands especially in this time of increased hand washing. I want quality fabrics. Trends are nice but not the be all end all. Classics are always in style.

  34. I would like retailer and clothing manufacturers to remember that the average height of the American woman is 5’4”. That’s officially petite. So many retailers have reduced or eliminated their Petite departments. A salesperson told me to shop in the junior department. I’m 70 years old! Even better stores like Nordstrom have tiny petite departments . Many of the luxury brands aren’t made in petite sizes. And for those of you who can wear regular sized clothing, you should know that petite sizes are not just about the length. The bust and hips are higher, the sleeves shorter and the shoulders narrower. V-necks are higher so a bra doesn’t show. Lapels on jackets are narrower. In most cases a regular sized garment cannot be turned into a petite. And don’t even get me started on shoe sizes. Many manufacturers start their sizing at a 6. For many of us, that’s way too big. It’s unfortunate that only the better mall stores, like Talbots, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor carry a full range of petites. (Chico’s petites are still really wide and hippy.) And these stores are small so everyone looks alike. A store manager at a Kohl’s told me the store wasn’t supplied with petite xs because someone decided our area doesn’t have short
    thin people. Really?
    Ok. Rant over.
    Thanks so much for this post. I love shopping, limited though my choices are. I just would like to have more of a selection.

  35. I agree with all of your points, Pam, and I’d add a few of my own:

    1. In addition to having fitting rooms open, ensure that they are well lit and big enough to move around in. No one wants to put her purse or her clothing on the floor, so ensure that there is an adequate spot such as a bench for that purpose. Full length mirrors are essential and a 3 way mirror, if not in the fitting room, then close by is a must.

    2. You are there to serve the customer, not to push merchandise. Be available, but not pushy and be willing to tell a woman when and why something doesn’t look good on her. Be willing to suggest alternatives for her to try.

    3. Ensure that your merchandise is of good quality and if possible, ethically produced. Be willing and able to answer questions about how and where it was made.

  36. Great article. Love your ideas.

    I wasn’t a fan of Steinmart. I shopped a few times and their customer service was either terrible, rude employees or nonexistent. I did buy some gifts there but it was not organized and too much stuff for my eyes to focus in on. Every time I went in I couldn’t wait to get out. I felt like I was on an episode of Hoarders.

    I absolutely love Nordstrom and the Rack. I worked there for 10 years and know how much they care about each and every customer. They also seem to be forward thinkers and I hope they make it through this slump.

  37. I wish more stores had basics in various colors. Why is it some years I can’t find red? Keep the basic colors always available. Customer service is important. Steinmart used to have some ladies to help find things and work at the jewelry counter. I’m going to miss them because I could depend on finding a large color selection of basics. Talbots and Chicos know their target. They provide excellent customer assistance and are never pushy. Again, they have basics in many colors. That draws me in and I purchase other things too! I haven’t seen a Macys employee help anyone for years. They are understaffed and overworked. Finally, if your employees don’t have any time to be pleasant, and make my shopping trip pleasant as well, you will not have me for a customer…I will go where the store provides a good experience and makes me feel wanted. Human nature there at work people. During this pandemic the one thing that has become most important is that PERSONAL interaction. Employees are going to be more important than ever!

  38. Great post, Pam. I agree with you and everyone else that except for Talbots, Chico’s, J Jill and Nordstrom any one over 50 is invisible. I have walked in mall stores and been ignored by 20 something employees. I love shopping, but have been doing more online shopping during the pandemic. Stores like Talbot’s and Chico’s have my business because the dressing rooms are open and the service is great…returns are easy. Stores are uncluttered and clean. It’s sad that stores like Steinmart are closing, but last time I visited my local Steinmart I walked out in disgust. There are fewer and fewer places for those over 60 to shop and we have the buying power.!

    1. It seems a lot of us have experienced the same things. I won’t go through an over crowded rack or overstuffed department. I hate fighting for space with another woman to see what’s even on the rack or if there’s my size. In February I was in the small Macys closest to me. They’d taken out the nicer sections and put in a bunch of cheap trashy stuff I’d never seen at Macy’s before, stacked on shelves with no rhyme or reason. A clerk was stationed behind the checkout desk watching me. I asked, ” What has happened to my nice clean well organized store?” She said she knew exactly what I meant and it was only the tip of the iceberg they were planning. I’ll go back once the pandemic is over, but if it’s going to be like that, I won’t go back.
      A clerk at Macy’s once told me when I asked how they could make money with such deep discounts, that things are priced so a certain number sell at full price. Then everything that’s sold after that is gravy. So even if they have discounted that blouse that started out at $100, down to $1, they’re making a dollar profit. She said I’d be surprised at the number of women who will not buy anything on sale. I know, hard to believe.
      I will not even look at clothes at Kohl’s any more. They look cheap, are not well made and fall apart or get completely out of shape after a few washings. I live 2 hours away and it’s not worth the gas and time to return them. They’re not even good enough to donate.

  39. Brava! Brava!! BRAVA. Expertly written article & wonderful comments.

    Can’t comment on the “big league” women’s clothiers/retailers; haven’t shopped any since late 1990s. The lack of defined target-demographic sections, poorly trained/slovenly associates, inferior quality merchandise at exorbitant prices and more peculiarities have kept me away.

    Now I frequent two small “boutiques” in town. One’s consignments, one’s estates. Both beautifully curated for inclusive ages/styles. They both have strict CoV-ID19 protocols yet have dressing rooms open.

    Trendy accessories or yoga gear I’ll still buy online. Amazon & WalMart are fun to peruse & get ideas, too.

    Retailers may do well to reinvest in “property, plant & equipment” as well as investing in personnel. Employees who take seriously their roles as Brand Ambassadors.

  40. Great points! Talbots and occasionally Chico’s get my business. I go to J Jill for linen shirts. My family was in the garment manufacturing business for years and we experienced the changing industry. I have no desire to go through racks and racks of clothes. We did like Stein Mart for their men’s golf clothes and women’s Attyre skorts. I have not spent a nickel in a Macy’s in years because of their awful customer service and poor selection. I look to see where a garment is made and would spend more if it was made in America.

  41. I’m a buyer, not a shopper: I go into a store when I have something specific to buy, I know what I want, I know what looks good on me & what doesn’t, I’m not an impulse buyer (I don’t care how good a sale is, if I don’t need it I don’t buy it) & I don’t browse (I hate malls & wandering from store to store looking at stuff I don’t need), so I wasn’t going to reply to this. But then it hit me: if a store can get ME in, they can get ANYONE in 🙂 So what gets me & my money into a store & keeps me there?
    1. artistic, creative displays of beautiful clothing with accessories & coordinating extras: dresses displayed w/shoes, bags, coats. Skirts with sweaters, blouses, jackets & camis, shoes, jewelry. I love fashion vignettes: entire outfits from top to bottom, then the individual pieces on racks close by.
    2. less is more: don’t cram the racks so full I can’t look through them easily. Also: figure out who you’re selling to & don’t try to span every age-group. Give us older women quality & more classic looks without being stodgy, boring & “old”. I think the designers need to get a clue about this as well!
    3. classic, elegant well-made clothing. I’ll pay for it. I won’t pay for cheap fabric, poor workmanship & sweat-shop ethics.
    4. comfortable well-lit fitting rooms with a chair or stool & plenty of wall hooks & a good mirror.
    5. staff who knows the stock, likes working retail & interacting with customers, has a good eye for fashion, colour, style. I like going into a store, having a salesperson identify my personal style immediately & not waste my time showing me stuff I won’t wear. This doesn’t mean I won’t look at something outside my usual comfort zone — I like being surprised & challenged, but there’s surprised & then there’s just ridiculous. I suspect this intuitive salesperson is the unicorn of the fashion world [sigh].
    6. Tie in with on-line shopping so you don’t have to keep everything on the sales’ floor. If I can almost but not quite find what I want, haul out a tablet (NOT a phone, you want a big screen] & show me what else is available that can be brought in for me to see & try on in person. Keep me engaged or lose me.

  42. Fascinating article and especially the following conversation! While I am not really a shopper, I can still relate to what is being said about pluses such as uncrowded racks and stores, reasonably sized dressing rooms, and polite and well-trained sales staff. I knew a lady who would tell snotty and unhelpful sales ladies that she was not the one who needed a job. Their position relied on her purchases. I realize that my opinion is just that, my own opinion, but the things you showed from Stein Mart are just plain unwearable.

  43. I agree, Pam. I have a specific palette of colors for my clothes and shopping in person is vital to find them. Too often what I find online ends up going back because the color isn’t right. I love some of Talbots – their Chatham pants are perfect for those of us who are rectangles with no hips. Chicos is all hips – none of their pants work without substantial alteration. I have found tops in perfect colors at the Chicos outlet, but those are deliberately made for a lower price point and the quality is not as good. I used to work retail years ago and echo earlier comments about being trained to pay attention to the customer and spend time helping! You have to know your stock to help. All the sales staff, not just personal shoppers, need to know what’s on the floor. And my final gripe is the lack of sales people. When I stopped by the mall after work, about 5:30, I could never find anyone to take my money because everyone was on break. Know the times your customers are likely to show up, like lunch or after work, and have staff available!

  44. Thank you for this insightful post, which echoes my take on current fashion choices for those of us over 60 who still want to look current and professional. I do not need spaghetti straps, rhinestones, cold shoulders or completely sheer anything, but in most stores those seem to be my only options. As I get closer to retirement I am no longer buying anything that can be worn only to my office, which has a business formal dress code (skirt or pant suits, dress with a blazer or cardigan, etc.) but I still need to look pulled together. Now if I buy a blazer it is not part of a matched suit and it is likely to be a knit and not so structured. If the pandemic has taught me anything it is that I need much less clothing than I always thought I did. I believe our new shopping patterns may be the end of ,many brick-and-mortar retailers, and I’m not sad to see SteinMart go. I loved the “old” SteinMart, but haven’t shopped there since they moved my local store into a smaller space and it basically became a garage sale for cheap junk.

  45. Great post today! So many good points.

    Last fall I made my first trip to our local Soft Surroundings. At first I was a bit intimidated because it seemed too high-end for me. But the saleswoman couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I felt no pressure to purchase anything — it was as if she wanted me to enjoy myself. Which I did. And I did make a purchase. I planned to go back this spring, but then Covid hit.

    I am looking forward to a return visit!

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