Picture this… Chandeliers, gold railings, champagne served on silver platters with black tie waiters, channel perfume wafting through the air. This sounds like an A-list event in Hollywood, but believe it or not, this is my description of a department store experience in Paris. Four weeks ago I was I wandering up the Champs-Élysées, eating macaroons, and watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle by nightfall. It felt like a movie.
It was the end of my seven-month exchange adventure so I decided to buy something in Paris that would last a long time and I could use everyday, to remind me of my trip. For me the perfect thing for this was a handbag. Whilst I couldn’t afford a $7000 Channel purse or a $5000 Louis Vuitton original, I could splurge $450 on Marc Jacobs Spring Season.
I wandered in to the Galeries Lafayette (a department store) not expecting to leave with anything due to the extravagant brands and prices. I simply wanted to observe the magnificence and beauty of the building. The store has a large stained glass dome covering the center, with the store levels snaking its way around the center ring. Marc Jacobs has a store on at least four of the levels. This designer sells bags, jewelry, clothes and shoes. There were thousands of handbags in the entire department store, but the Marc Jacobs purse grabbed my eye on every level as I made my way upstairs.
I stopped to check the price tag and straight away I had an attendant come over, speaking English to me, and pulling off the security sensor. He was very polite, asking where I was visiting from and if there was anything he could do for me.
He let me try the bag on and told me I should fill the bag up with my things to test it out. He then stepped back for five minutes letting me look in the mirror and make a decision. Once I said I liked it, he brought out three more similar bags, in different sizes and colours, explaining to me the product line and the recent season changes. He knew the products he was selling and was very informative. I then tried a smaller bag on and he said it was more of a “party and going out bag” than an everyday one. Without forcing me into the purchase he gave me another five minutes to try the different bags on in the mirror.
I came to my decision of the every day, classic black, Marc Jacobs Spring collection purse. The attendant working in the store was very polite, asking me when he brought a new bag out of the storeroom, to inspect the bag and to see if it was up to my standards. He wrapped the purse delicately in tissue paper and the branded paper bag. He then explained to me the duty free shopping experience for tourists. After I made the purchase, he wished me a safe trip home and pointed the way to the tax-back office of the department store.
I was then swiftly seated in an armchair where a different attendant, took my receipts and processed my tax return for the purchase.
All in all, the department store standards for me rate in the ten’s. Everything is laid out so perfectly, there is not a hanger out of place. Shop assistants are plentiful and willing to help. They speak multiple languages and quickly adjust to your language. They are dressed impeccably and know the products they are selling. You can imagine my shock coming back to Wollongong department stores this previous week to buy a bikini. It was difficult to find an attendant or even an open register. My magical european experience is definitely over. I love Wollongong, but reality has struck!
MARK217: CB and in-store decision making