Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2 Diamonds in the Rough

You know I love discount department stores, so please put the information I am about to share into context. I consider these stores diamonds in the rough, but knowing our opinions on discount stores could differ greatly, I supply this forewarning – you might see more of the “rough” aspect in these two stores than the "diamond" aspect I favor.

The first place is Anbar Shoes on Reade Street, west of Broadway. I walked in on Saturday afternoon and the manager who is most likely the owner (a family business?) was working the register at top volume. In other words, he’s loud. This discount shoe gem features labels you rarely find post-season at places like Century 21 and Loehmann’s – this place has names like Audley, Sasha Too, Blay and Coclico. The shoes are arranged by color; on the first floor you’re presented mainly with black shoes, downstairs you can review yellow, metallic, flower-print, green, etc.

So back to Saturday afternoon: I had thoroughly reviewed the ground floor and moved downstairs when I heard the manager/owner speaking specifically to a shopper. "You're making a mess and I want you out of the store,” to which she replied, “I’ll call the police and report you. You can’t kick me out of here.” He retorted, “This is my store and I’ll kick out whomever I want. Please leave, you’re making a mess.” At this point, and with this owner’s voice booming through the store, I am freaking out. Every pair of shoes I review I am carefully putting them back in the box and stacking the box gently back on the shelf. I figure if he’s kicking someone out for being a messy customer, he could easily do the same to me. Well, it turns out that he actually caught this person attempting to shoplift, and was therefore using his gift of gab volume to humiliate her into coughing up the shoes she was stuffing down her pants and to ultimately leave the store. (All of this back story learned how? The sheer volume of his conversation!).

The second place is De Janeiro with locations throughout Manhattan, specifically, Nassau Street downtown in the Financial District and uptown on Lexington Avenue around the corner from Grand Central Station. This is a place that I used to frequent with my friends at my last job. Whenever we needed a little retail therapy, this place was guaranteed to give it to us. It is a 2nd-tier American brand discount outlet, so you’ll find Kenneth Cole, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Express and various Massimo (the Target brand) at seriously discounted prices. I’m talking $6.00 shirts and $8.00 skirts. It is absolutely 100% lacking in any atmosphere though. I mean seriously lacking. Go there if you know you need business basics and you want a couple of outfits for a total of $80.00.

Note that both of these stores are for women only (sorry, guys). I guess they figure we have a higher tolerance for shopping pain? I clearly do.

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