Did you hit the stores this weekend to get an early start on holiday shopping? I did, and for the most part, I was not impressed. Long lines and messy merchandize do not bode well for the start of the season.
Here’s my review of the six stores I visited in the Washington, DC area:
- Pottery Barn, B: When I first walked in, I was so taken by the color scheme that I had visions of replicating the store’s décor in my apartment. But confusing price tags on throw pillows that were mistakenly placed in the “on sale” section threw me off. I did walk away with a lovely candle, though.
- TJ Maxx, C-minus: The prices were impressive, but long lines at the registers along with used coffee cups mixed among the merchandize turned me off.
- Linens-N-Things, D: This chain -- once my favorite place for sheets and shower curtains -- is going out of business. As a result, its products are marked down heavily, but they’ve also been picked over, so there isn’t a lot of selection. The store I visited was out of shower curtains, and the disorganized line was about 20 people deep.
- Crate & Barrel, B-minus: The selection was plentiful and colorful, but most products were being sold at full-price -- don’t they know consumers are cutting back? Also, chaos around the check-out lines caused some tempers to flare.
- JCrew, C-plus: This store was pristine, well-organized, and virtually empty. There was no wait for the dressing room, but also nothing quite tempting enough to justify pulling out my credit card for the (relatively) steep prices.
- Williams-Sonoma, A-plus: This upscale kitchen goods-store impressed me across the board. As soon as I walked in, a clerk explained to me how the new All-Clad Roaster works, and as I meandered further into the store, I received a free lesson (and tasting) of five different olive oils. Then, as my husband was sidetracked by free apple pie samples, I tested an espresso maker and received a free cappuccino. Does it get any better than that?
To help others save time and energy, grade your own favorite (and not so favorite) store below. What do you like and not like?