Sunday, May 27, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Ridiculous? I wanted to buy a new jacket. Something roomy and warm, because it might get chilly in Copenhagen at night. I wanted pockets, and I want it to look good, but not so flashy (i.e. memorable) that I can't get away with wearing it every night on this trip. It's the only jacket I'm bringing. (I want to travel light this time, a small suitcase on wheels and a knapsack.)
I walked into The Gap on Bay Street, and started looking through the racks, and was approached by a salesperson who didn't speak English. She pulled me over to the Clearance rack and pulled out a small jacket (I wear XXL) and handed it to me and walked away. I put it back on the rack, but there wasn't enough room for it, so I really had to work. She came back, mumbled something in Chinese English (whatever language that is) and pulled the jacket off the rack again and tried to hand it to me. I wouldn't take it, and I turned to go back to the rack I was looking at. She came over and started talking to me again in jibberish. I turned around and walked out, confident that I wasn't missing anything.
All this happened after I walked into the Apple Store on the same street. It was the sublime experience. I zipped from station to station, looking at merchandise, drooling over things I don't need, seriously considering buying an iMac because I saw a man walking out with one with such joy on his face. I want some of that. I had two ideas, to buy a third battery so I could use the computer all the way to Europe even though there was no power at the seat on the KLM 747. I bought one for $69. And for $39 I bought their World Travel Adapter Kit. A sales kid, respectful and competent (and he spoke fluent English, the language of our country) got me exactly what I asked for, so quickly I didn't have time to consider another impulse purchase. But while I was waiting, another competent English speaking sales guy asked if I was being helped. All this while the store was packed with customers. I noted that there were people with dogs in the store, they seemed to fit right in. I asked, when the sales guy came back, if dogs were really allowed in the store and he said yes. Apple really gets retail, they understand their product and their customer, and the experience is just fantastic. And every time I visit they get at least $100 from me. Sometimes much more.
I continued down Bay St, still looking for the jacket. I stopped in a much bigger Banana Republic on the corner, asked where the men's dept was, they said it was in the other store. I turned around walked across the street to Old Navy, where a person at the front door tried to hand me a brochure for something. I said I didn't want it, but I did want a jacket. She pointed toward the back of the store where they had a few ugly hoodies, nothing like what I wanted, so I continued down the street to Barnes & Noble to get a book about Italy, which I found in short order. No sales people got in the way, I also picked up a copy of Al Gore's new book, went upstairs, made the purchase with my membership card, got my parking ticket validated, and got out quickly with what I came for and one optional purchase, got in the car, no jacket (which was the primary goal for the stop at Bay St).
Went grocery shopping, a predictable, quick and pleasant experience, went to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, the service there is excellent, but not quite sublime. Smart young people behind the counter, they treat everyone well, out the door quickly after paying a huge amount of money (drugs are so expensive) and went across the street to have a burger with a friend, who recommended going to REI for the jacket. After the burger we got in the car, they had exactly what I was looking for, I bought a jacket for $50, then looked around a bit and bought a much nicer one that will also work for $179. My friend bought one of the $50 jackets (an impulse buy) and a REI baseball cap (also on impulse).