During the past week I had such diverse shopping experiences, I can no longer keep quiet. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and today's the day I'm starting.
In this feature, I will describe for you my recent shop experiences, and rate the shops on quality of goods and customer service. Brussels and/or Belgium is not cutting an edge in customer service. (And that's putting it mildly.) However, there are sometimes pleasant surprises...
This week's highlights:
1. Esprit on Avenue Toison d'Or/Esprit in the Galerie Louise arcade: You'd think these two shops would work in sync but they don't. I needed a suit. Basic, bland, jacket and trousers or jacket and skirt, so long as they matched and looked good I didn't care. Esprit do a collection line which can be good and not so expensive. Easy, right? Well... Number one, there was not a lot of selection. Then I managed to find some separates, but... One shop had a jacket in my size but no skirt, while the other had the skirt in my size but not the jacket. Could they be put together somehow? We'll never know, because I mentioned my predicament to the sales person at the Esprit in the Galerie Louise, and her response was: the shop was closing, so could I please go away now?
Grade: C-. Crap minus.
2. Mer du Nord Avenue Louise.
From there I walked into M du N expecting to be told that they were closing, but no one said a word about it, and there were three people standing around the front desk doing nothing. Downstairs, a gaggle of shop assistants were also doing bugger-all, while I scoped out the wares. I found two very good possibilities (damn the expense) and was about to try on when the Muzak was shut off. The gaggle of assistants informed me the shop was about to close. I asked, can I just try these on? I said, I will be quick. They shrugged; I went to the changing room. Two minutes later when I'm half in and out of a skirt, someone comes to tell me I've got to leave.
"You can come back at 10 tomorrow morning," the young woman says, unsweetly.
She does not ask whether I want to buy anything, or offer to give me a minute, or anything. She is clearly not on commission.
Grade: D. Dire. Shame, because the clothes are nice (albeit pricey).
3. (Unrelated to the suit shopping) Delhaize Shop N Go Vleurgat.
A small but busy branch of the supermarket chain, I was there quite late in the afternoon, looking for prunes. They were not in the dried fruit section. As I was paying for my other purchases, I asked the young man at the check out whether they'd be getting more prunes soon. He said, "But we do have prunes." I said, "Oh, I didn't see them." He said, "They're not with the other dried fruit, they're next to the flour. Do you want me to go get some for you?"
I repeat: the cashier said, Do you want me to get some for you?
And then he went and got some.
And I bought them.
Grade: A++ ASH. TON. ISH. ING.