So, I was back in the states for a week. The occasion: my brother's wedding. However, most of my time was spent chaperoning my cousins and extended family around Baltimore’s malls. Not exactly how I intended to spend my week off, but as the grooms oldest brother I had no choice. Though I will have to say that this trip provided me with firsthand account of what's going on with the global economy. My relatives came to America to do one thing: Shop!! Seeing as most of them live in Europe or the Middle East, they were quite enthused about having the opportunity to throw their global purchasing power weight around. To quote one of my cousins, “I am going to tear it up."(KJ for those who know him well)
So, where to begin. My favorite story has to do with denim, and the ongoing designer jean craze. I went to a store with one of my cousins to look at Rock and Republic jeans. After about ten minutes of shopping my cousin had narrowed his selection down to three pairs. Two very expensive pairs of jeans, and one super expensive pair. And I will have to say the clerk in this store did his part to sell these jeans. As my cousin was struggling to make his up his mind, the clerk informed him that the super expensive pair was the way to go because they had an "exclusive R". Now, I had been quietly watching my cousin shop until I heard this. At which point I couldn't resist asking the clerk a few questions. "What's an exclusive R", I asked. "Well, sir I am referring to the design of the R on the back of rock and republic jeans", he replied. He then proceeded to explain to me that the R on Rock and Republic jeans is quite unique and that certain versions of the design of the R are rare and coveted by denim lovers. You learn something new every day. I guess jeans branding has reached new levels, because at this point even I wanted an exclusive R on my butt. Btw the store we were in was called Metropark. Which the clerk described to me as a boutique lifestyle chain with a fashion forward edge. More impressive branding. Basically, these guys bring Los Angeles living to non Californians. Anyway my cousin got a good deal on the jeans, that is if you can consider $330 jeans a deal.(Guess they are more expensive in Europe)
I also spent a lot of time in Abercrombie and Fitch, which to my surprise is developing a big international following.(It knew it as a store for north eastern preps when I was in high school) The shopping experience there is insane. You'd think you were in a lounge or club. The lights are barely on and the music is bumping. I guess ANF has been applying Vegas practices to shopping. Maybe they are pumping oxygen into their stores.
Oh and how can I forget the J-Crew red phone. It turns out if you can't find something in a J-crew store they have an emergency red phone with a direct line to a Jcrew operator who will find it for you. It’s considered a premium service, and as one of my cousins used it, I can say it works.
Can't beat shopping in America. And for you US consumer stock aficionados keeping track....the stores that my family and friends did the most damage at were ANF, Apple, and Nordstrom.
As for me, my venti vanilla cappuccino and croissant from sbux cost me 5.99. In Dubai, I pay 8.40. Not exactly the Big Mac index, but definitely worth noting. While this isn’t a perfect comparison, my purchasing power in Baltimore’s towson town center mall as measured by starbux is 40% better than it is in Burj Dubai.