Shopping Success #1

It’s a surprising title, I know. I hate shopping, hate-hate-hate it, but I’ve had two good store experiences in a row, so I thought I’d share.

Tonight is the homecoming dance for M, so a dress was required. M is not a dress-up kind of girl, and like her mother, she’s not much of a shopper, either. But it had to be done, so last Saturday I said, “Let’s just go to the mall as early as possible and rip the Band-Aid off,” and she agreed. We headed to Colonie Center based on reports she’d heard from friends of other dress-shopping successes.

We parked and entered via Nordstrom Rack, which I hadn’t ever seen before. . . it’s new, right? Or, let’s face it, I don’t get out much, so “new” could mean “within the last 18 months.” M was instantly optimistic, but after a hunt, she only came up with one dress she considered try-on worthy. Of course, it looked fantastic on her. Let’s face it: when you are a pretty, size-2 blonde, pretty much everything looks fantastic on you. She thought it was decent but not awesome, and I said something like, “Well, that’s pretty high for a low-bar choice, so we’re in good shape.” Then I went out and, since it was the only dress in that size, I asked the dressing room attendant guy if we could put it on hold while we shopped around. He said no, they don’t do that. I was like, really? Who doesn’t do that? Doesn’t everybody let you put something on hold while you walk around the mall? And then he literally said, “Oh, you wanted to put it on ‘hold.’ I thought you wanted to put it on ‘hold.'” M and I looked at each other, like, huh? The man then directed me to the cashier, and told me to ask that guy to put it on hold. The cashier said, “We don’t put things on hold.” Which made me laugh, and I explained what the other guy had said, and he asked which guy, and I pointed him out, and the cashier basically said, “Yeah. . . no. We don’t do that” Apparently, that guy was not powerful enough to work this magic, after all. At this point, both M and I were fed up, and we surrendered the low-bar option entirely. So, no: Nordstrom Rack was not one of the good store experiences.


But then we went into Francesca’s. I had never stepped into a Francesca’s (it is a chain) because, honestly, it always seemed like one of those places for recreational shopping. Unless I’m in heavy-duty tourist mode, I don’t generally look into a window and say, “That place looks cool. . . let’s check it out.” I’m not one of those women sashaying around with a basket gathering berries and wildflowers. I’m more like a special ops unit: “We need a swimsuit, and last year we found something in Dick’s, so let’s go! Go, people! Move out! Head straight for the swimsuits! Let’s make this happen and get the hell out before we lose somebody!!” I really do start to get mall-sick (I’ve talked about this before), so I feel like I have to race to knock out my to-do list before I start hyperventilating and have to seek fresh air.

Anyway, M noticed dresses in the window, and guess what? There were a bunch of reasonably priced and perfectly appropriate dresses. Yay. The “appropriate” part is very difficult for homecoming. You need, like, a cocktail-dress level of formality, except without all the cocktails. The choices tend to land in two categories: professional-woman-at-formal-business-conference and teen-vixen-character-from-Pretty-Little-Liars. I am only exaggerating a little bit. At Francesca’s, M scooped up a big pile of dresses to try on, each one cute in its own way. The saleswoman was lovely and super-helpful without being irritating, which we all know is a delicate balance. While I waited for M, I wandered around the store and coveted sweaters and jewelry and home decor and little tchotchkes. I kept finding things that would make lovely gifts for the women in my life (but not the men: the estrogen is strong in that store). So: new favorite store. M chose a lovely, lovely dress and a necklace to go with it, and we were overjoyed.

Of course, the subsequent search for shoes nearly killed us, but that place was awesome.


  1. Sunny Savannah

    She looked so lovely and it is nice to find a “go to” store. Makes shopping quick and easy when you have to travel that road.

  2. Big Sister

    Funny you were so happy at Francesca’s. We have one here also. I went inside on a whim (because, as you know, I AM A SHOPPER!) and I also was impressed with the merchandise assortment and the product. So I did little research. This group has hundreds of stores – rising up in just a few years across the U.S. and online. Shows you that if you get the product right, the women will find you without too much hype. It is a really pretty dress.

  3. Mary Ellen Whiteley

    Francesca’s is in our Allentown Mall. Our saleswomen have always been so nice that we were convinced it was a boutique and not a chain. I loved your perfect phrase about “cocktail-dress formality without the cocktails”. M looked beautiful. Good job!

  4. It’s funny how right some places get it and then how wrong others get it. Or maybe it’s just that most things are wrong for me!

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