Monday, June 11, 2012

My Visit to Chico's

The Nordstrom closed.

You know if you need a new pair of Doc Marten shoes size 11, you can drive straight to Nordstrom and pick up a pair (I am not wearing Doc Martens, size 11, if that's what you're thinking.) Need a pair of tights or fishnets? Nordstrom will have some. Looking for undergarments and their pinnings? Nordstrom. It's not the kind of place where I go digging around to see what's new and interesting (I save that for TJ Maxx.) Nordstrom is the place you go when you know what you want, and you don't want to have to spend too much time and effort looking for it.

It's also the place you go when you have birthday money burning a hole in your pocket. You normally wouldn't shop Nordstrom because you think it's too expensive, although it probably isn't, but it just feels expensive when you walk in the door. Maybe you still feel guilty about your poor childhood and those times you shopped at thrift stores for real and even stepping foot inside Nordstrom is kind of like a betrayal of all the cautious frugality with which you were raised.

But then they closed the Nordstrom.

The existential questions are moot; you just no longer have a convenient, close place to shop.

All I wanted a simple rose gold-plated necklace. The nearest Nordstrom is 45 minutes away with zero traffic. No, thanks. I didn't want to go to Forever21 because I have this baby who will suck on my necklaces and I don't want her to get lead poisoning from the "jewelry."

Everyone knows that cheap jewelry is mostly lead that will first turn your baby stupid, and then eventually to a life of crime, culminating in lifelong incarceration in a maximum security federal prison that you'll be too tragic, poor and destitute to visit, even by bus, because your child sucked on your necklace, broke your heart, and all your retirement is going to pay for the legal fees. It was on 20/20, I think.

I was literally in the Nordstrom parking lot, staring at the shuttered doors from the safety of my car, hoping that all the rumors about the place closing were a great big joke from people who just wanted the place to themselves. This is not the case: the store was closed, closed, closed. Scared of all the poisonous, baby-ruining jewelry in the other mall stores, I needed somewhere else to search for a rose gold necklace.
(The irony is that I would never go to Nordstrom for their kids' clothes, because the Nordstrom kids buyer is on some sort of illegal street drug that results in the most awful kid clothes selection since ShopKo's 1987 Fall Collection.)

My eyes drifted away from the sad, shuttered Nordstrom doors, and landed on the freestanding Chico's. I could recall my Mother-in-Law exclaiming, "You've never been to Chico's? You'd love it!" as she held the door open for me to enter the Chico's in Florida, my first trip to this woman-of-a-certain-age shopping paradise. I'd been too preoccupied corralling the children at that first visit to do any real shopping, the women at Chico's having been so far past that stage that the idea that I would bring loud rug rats into their broomstick skirted-hallows was a personal and unending affront.

But I couldn't think of another store that might have unleaded jewelry at the ready, so with a sense of the inevitable and in defeated resignation, I went to Chico's.

Guys. Chico's. It's...not my scene? I was the youngest person in the store by 30 years. Impeccably dressed women with the kind of sun-etched skin behooving their matriarchal status. I tried to give it a chance. I pawed through the jewelry, looking for anything that was un-chunky. Something with a long, thin chain, it didn't even have to be rose gold, gold anything would do at this point. Nothing.

I turned to the clothes: I'm not a clothes snob, I'll buy anything from anywhere if it's cute and fits properly. Who knows, what if my new favorite thing in the world came from Chico's? I combed the racks and texted Noelle that I was in Chico's. "Did you see my mom in there?" she replied.
"I don't even know what I'm doing in here, I just wanted to go to Nordstrom."

They've invented their own sizing, so you have to do math (UGH) to figure out if you could wear something. I wandered around, trying to give the store a fair shake. Everything seemed awfully expensive and I was feeling more lost by the minute. I was quickly becoming the source of some excited chatter, "Are you aware of our sizing?" trilled one saleswoman, and then another. (I have not been more out of place in a store since that stumble into a Hot Topic some ten years ago, a trip that ended in coughs from the vinyl fume inhalation and the vague idea that nothing was nostalgic anymore as much as waiting to be commercialized for profit.) I wanly looked through the clearance section, wondering if the tiger stripe blouse could be a kicky addition, or just the last gasp of the Reagan White House. All I wanted was a gold necklace. All I wanted was to be able to go to Nordstrom and buy something with minimal fuss, maximal efficiency, and without dangerous metals.

Instead I left Chico's: dazed, confused, staring at my impending future, and without a single item.


Noelle, "Just walked by Chico's and thought of you."

Me, "Anything cute? I know, like, the whole store."


Fairchild said...

This is funny because I had this exact same experience a few weeks ago. I had never been in a Chico's before and only went because my VT companion got a job there so I was curious.

I was the youngest person by decades too and was totally confused by the sizes. I left with a pair of Spanx!

moosh in indy said...

My mom just bought a new jacket from Chico's. She was very excited, whereas in my mind it solidified her "old lady" status is in full effect.
J. Jill, it's the gateway between the Gap and Chico's

Lindsey Johnson said...

My mom's favorite store. And her best buddy works at the same store you went to. Ahem.


Meg in Progress said...

This was exactly the pick me up my it's-only-4:30pm-on-a-Monday self needed.

Erica said...

The worst is when someone older recommends Chico's because they think your funky style means chunky funk. I wonder why Nordstrom left, while my local Kroger grocery store now has a jewelry store inside. Yes dear, on your way home please pick up a head of lettuce and a quality sapphire.

Anonymous said...

You can buy real gold jewelry at the jewelry counter of just about any department store: Macy's, Sears, JCPenney, etc. And isn't there a Jared in the same parking lot as the old Nordstrom and the Chico's? Goofy commercials aside, I'll bet you could get a reasonably priced gold necklace there.

TheOneTrueSue said...

Ha! Erica I think the same thing. I don't understand how grocery store jewelers stay in business.

I have this fear of entering stores when I'm not one hundred percent sure who the target demographic is. I still can't make myself go into Buckle, because - is it for grown women? Is it for teenagers? I can't figure out, so I steer clear.