the cold shoulder.

10 05 2010

roughly 7 months ago (when this blog was just a wee baby), i wrote a little post about my deep love for consignment shops in the portland area. well, during that short time, yet another one has cropped up in the cavity where high-end old port used to live.  the shopaholics boutique is located on the corner of exchange and fore,  and i actually noticed the coming soon sign on their door a few months ago. i even took a photo of it (which i can’t post, but we’ll get to that in a minute)! buy you’re not missing much. they use A LOT of fuschia, and have somehow involved the eiffel tower in their logo in a way that confuses me very much (paris= classy?). but my disdain for their logo aside, i thought i would finally roll in and give it a try.  shopping is shopping, not matter how stupid the name of the store. i wandered down there after work on friday, and can’t say that i wasn’t a little hesitant to go in. their website and windows seductively dangle a stock of gently used coach bags and discount seven jeans, which are two fashion priorities that i just don’t have. i got the impression that i wasn’t their chosen demographic, but i had to do it- you know, for journalism (or possibly because i wanted a less dumpy outfit for my evening plans but didn’t have time to go home and change *shame*).

once inside, it’s easy to forget that shopaholics is a consignment store. the bright and clean space is well laid out and tailored in a way that assure’s that A) you’re only seeing their best stuff (no random filler crap), and B) you’re not completely overwhelmed with choices. it’s a high end approach that i think is smart, but that also feels cold and makes me extremely uncomfortable. i’m definitely more in my element amongst the cluttered mishmashes of material objects. but for research purposes, i press on. as it turns out, it’s not entirely consignment, but a mix of very aggressively filtered consignment stuff (they even have a disclaimer on their website about how you shouldn’t be offended when they turn your shit down), and reasonably priced new goods from brands like kensie, arden b, and true religion. it definitely wasn’t what you would call dirt cheap- with prices appearing to range from $30-$70+.  but that said, their selection (though not entirely my taste), was pretty solid. if you’re looking for an interview outfit, killer jeans, or a cocktail dress and can’t afford full retail (but aren’t quite digging in your couch cushions for goodwill money), this place is definitely your best bet. i spotted at least a few items that definitely would have come home with me if they were slightly less expensive, and if the awkwardness hadn’t rolled in to bust up my shopping haze.

admittedly, i should have asked first if it was ok for me to take pictures. i initially snapped a couple shots of a super hot high-waisted faux ombre skirt without incident, but when i turned to start taking photos of the store, the gentleman behind the counter coolly informed me that i needed to stop. apparently it was a privacy issue (even if i didn’t photograph any of the patrons). oops. i haltingly tried to explain that i only wanted to take pictures for my blog… but he  shot back “i know what you’re doing”- as if i was caught taking a poop in the dressing room or something. flushed with shame, i attempted recovery by telling him that i just wanted to write an article about the store, but it was not working out. i passed him my card- NO LOVE. a few more awkward questions smugly dismissed with one word answers, i thanked him and excused myself to finish browsing… and then swiftly but discretely  crab walked my way out the door as fast as humanly possible (to another much more welcoming store that i’ll talk about tomorrow in part two of this sordid saga).

sure, there are a few things that i wouldn’t have liked about the shopaholics boutique regardless of my experience, but it’s rare that i ever write off a venue so quickly, especially one that has quality shopping potential. and sure, i probably could have approached the situation with a little more savvy (ok, a lot more savvy), but my faux pas aside, i shouldn’t have left there feeling angry and ashamed. the bottom line is that it’s a nice store, and i’m sure they’ll thrive just fine without my approval. which is good, because i definitely won’t be returning.


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48 responses

11 05 2010
liz

wait…what? i wouldn’t think twice about taking pictures inside an independently owned shop (i always think i’m going to get yelled at when i’m doing it in big ass corporate-owned places like target or whatever, though i do it anyway). “privacy issues”?? also, what an asshole. it so much makes me not want to shop there, and i won’t, not just because i’m probably too broke to buy anything there anyway.

11 05 2010
bessmarvin

thank you for making me feel not crazy!! i do think going forward (to prevent such awkwardness), i will introduce myself up front and ask for permission. however, that doesn’t give that guy a license to be such a jerk. they did have some nice things, but i can get something better suited to my taste at material objects or second time around for less money and less attitude.

11 05 2010
The Coupon Goddess

Wow! Well let me tell you that I will never set foot in that store due to the way they treated you. I think that man just shot that store in the foot. (if not the heart) I love all things designer, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to shop someplace where they are so rude to people who want to give them free publicity.

11 05 2010
bessmarvin

sometimes i feel like people think that high class means poor customer service. when i was in college, there was this ridiculous coffee shop in town that had a sign that said “the coffee is free, you pay for the attitude”. if being classy means being elitist and cruel, color me white trash. in my book, kindness is the classiest thing you can do.

11 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

Excuse my french that guy was a douchebag. Is it me but it seems that since the economy went bust, there are more consignment shops over in the Old Port. There is that one on Exchange St, Second Time Around and yalso had an annex store that closed. Maybe its just me, but I am a huge fan of Material Objects, even my 18yo son likes going in there. I find them to be warm and inviting, one day I was in there with my 4yo and she was a tad fiesty and the owner hung out with her so I could try stuff on. Totally cool.

The newer places that have sprouted up seems to forget that at the end of the day they are selling used stuff. I am mixed on Find though I did find the coolest 70′s style dress there which I only need a girdle to look good in.

I am always scouting out new places to shop but based off your experience I doubt I will step foot in this joint. The thing is idiots like that have no idea how many folks read blogs and get ideas, its one of the reasons I like your blog. I never would have probably gone to try the PB&J place had you not written about it, despite I get my bread and cheese downstairs. Just would not have crossed my mind.

11 05 2010
bessmarvin

awesome! i’m glad that i could open your world to the wonder that is PB&J time. i definitely agree that material objects is the way to go for consignment. second time around is good too, but you’re right, MO just has something friendly and fun about it that the other don’t have. also, it’s cheaper (which always helps) find seems cool, but their selection isn’t as good. i’ve been in several times, but i haven’t actually bought anything yet. but yeah, shopaholics boutique (and its stupid-ass name) are DEAD to me. DEAD!!

11 05 2010
Kelly

I totally agree with the above comment–douchebag was the first word that came to my mind when I read how that guy was treating you(although at my house we sometimes use the word “vagina cleaner” instead). You’d think he’d be a little nicer after you told him about your blog.

11 05 2010
bessmarvin

i believe the technical term is “douche canoe” (although “vagina cleaner” is also acceptable- and AMAZING). i don’t ever want people to be nice to me just because i have a blog and could write something mean… but i do feel like every customer deserves to be treated with kindness and courtesy. ESPECIALLY if you own the store. i’m just baffled at why he was so mean. it just doesn’t make any sense!

11 05 2010
megan

seems as though the pink eiffel tower is lodged up a certain counterperson’s ass. “i know what you’re doing”? … did he, really? or is he just a fuckseed with a job he finds displeasing?

11 05 2010
bessmarvin

ha! i like the way you think. and yes, “i know what you’re doing” is a direct quote. according to some minor news articles i found, the fuckseed in question is part owner of the shops (they have 3 locations- 2 in new hampshire). maybe they’re not doing so well? or maybe he just has a chronic case of tight-ass permagrump (TAPG).

12 05 2010
blackgirlinmaine

So wait, it was one of the owners who acted this way? Goodness, what was he thinking? Does he not realize that Portland is small and info travels quickly? I think that makes his actions even worse, had it come from an overzealous clerk, it might be understandable but as the owner its bad business. He must not realize that businesses come and go in the Old Port.

12 05 2010
bessmarvin

it’s hard to tell. i saw an article online that had a picture that looked like the same guy. yeah, if it were some disaffected salesperson, it would have been easier to let go. in the old port consignment wars, i think second time around is a much better shop. i guess now we just wait and see if there’s room for 2.

12 05 2010
Winnie P.

Wait…I thought all gay guys were nice?

12 05 2010
bessmarvin

wait, gay? was that conclusively determined? i read an article somewhere i think that says he and his wife co-own the shops.

14 05 2010
Winnie P.

No, but I’ve heard that being married to a woman doesn’t mean you are not gay! And being in the retail business doesn’t help, right?

14 05 2010
bessmarvin

so right! just ask my dad. (no seriously, it happens all the time) :)

12 05 2010
Colleen O

I went in here today at lunchtime, looking for a pair of dressy slacks to wear tonight. Instead I found a shirt I had sold to Second Time Around last year and a blazer with someone’s business card still in the pocket, with someone’s cell phone number on the back.

12 05 2010
bessmarvin

hah! it’s like you were spying on the enemy! verdict- lamer than we originally thought. i actually found a $20 bill in a pair of jeans i bought at material objects once. it’s like i got paid $8 for buying those pants. we should search all the consignment pockets we can find and see what turns up. like an anthropological study or something.

12 05 2010
hot in the city « broke 207

[...] in the city 12 05 2010 when last you saw me, i was fleeing the shopaholics boutique in shame. BIG thank you btw to everyone who called that guy a douchebag and told me that they [...]

13 05 2010
Cindy

Douchebag is right! How did he know you weren’t taking a picture of your next must-have outfit to send via text msg to your filthy rich husband (or sugar daddy) for approval and/or money, hmm?

If I lived up there, I’d boycott them, too. :)

14 05 2010
bessmarvin

i did actually take a picture of a skirt, and he didn’t seem to mind that. it’s when i turned around and tried to photograph the store that he got his panties bunched. i’m thinking city-wide boycott?

1 06 2010
WTF

UM So wait… is this a conspiracy?
I’m not quite sure how this man was being mean and from what you said its not like he was swearing at you or telling you to get the heck out of the store. One word “No” answers dont qualify him as a douchebag or vagina cleaner. Also taking pictures of a store IS kind of sketchy maybe thats why you were embarrassed. Even if you do have a “blog” most people dont read about the store first, they just see a store that appeals to them and go in. I enjoy shopping at Shopaholics and have been to many of their stores. I find amazing high class clothes for way cheeper than my friends do. I have also been to Second Time Around and honestly all I find is crap which is over priced to boot. Shopaholics – I love the name. I am a shopaholic myself and for you oblivious ones Paris is the highest fashion shopping center of the world. Its very clever. I also think that you are attacking this man on a Personal Level. Calling him “gay” when you have no idea who he is. Its ridiculous. Its like me calling @ Winnie P “gay” just because the name sounds gay. it really is ridiculous and very immature to call names.
Its alweful to be so negative, it just makes you all sound horrible. Karma people- what goes around comes around.
Just sayin….

1 06 2010
bessmarvin

no, i don’t think it’s a conspiracy! just some awesome loyal readers sticking up for me in a situation where i felt i had been mistreated. although i definitely also appreciate hearing the flip side of the coin. you’re right, the guy didn’t throw me out or swear at me, and i suppose that counts for something. he was however extremely cold and made it very clear that i was not welcome in his establishment. as a blogger, i no way expect to have the red carpet rolled out for me, but common courtesy would be nice. i was interested in providing a service for him (writing a blog post about his store so that other area people would be aware of it), and whether or not he was interested in that service, i do feel that kindness would have been the classy thing to do. even after my bad experience, i still actually had some nice things to say about their layout and the quality of their stock. that said, it’s not the consignment store for me. but i think there’s room for lots of different kinds of shops in this town, and i’m glad that you enjoy shopping there, and i hope you continue to do so. it was not my aim to run them out of business, only to register my discontent. just for the record, i am aware that paris is the high fashion capitol of the world, although last time i checked, they were not the tacky hot pink clip art capitol of the world. paris would probably be aghast at the shopaholics boutique’s ill use of their beloved landmark. i’m pretty sure the “faux housewives of orange county” seven jeans and big coach bags look isn’t why france is so renowned for their good taste. i do however agree with you about the gay comment. it was not made by me, nor did i agree with it. i do not think of “gay” as an epithet, and i would never use it as such (vagina cleaner on the other hand…). karmically speaking, you’re not actually being that nice right now either, so i suppose you can consider us even.

1 06 2010
WTF

Well it seems like a conspiracy to me and of course all of your “friends” are going to side with you! If someone was telling me to not take pictures of a store, I would just say sorry and walk out and I definitely wouldnt write different blogs bashing them on nomourous occasions. Sure maybe you said one nice thing but for the most part you have only been degoratory and applauded negative and completely unfounded remarks from the others. You have created a frenzy of attacks from his sexual orientation to the color of his sign. Also I would like to point out everytime I have entered Shopaholics the owner and his wife have always gone above and beyond for me, especially to make sure I am happy. Who knows he might have even politely said No but you might be twisting the story, I dont know, I wasnt there. You only hear your side to the story. And for the record- Paris does not have a color. Just becasue YOU think pink is tacky (I mean your self portrait is pink) doesnt mean Paris doesnt like the color. Im sure there are people in Paris that wear pink. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion. NUFF SAID .

1 06 2010
bessmarvin

don’t worry, you don’t have to like my blog to visit and comment! and i’m always glad to hear about local businesses doing well. the old port desperately needs the help right now. i actually did apologize, stop taking pictures (the pictures that i did take have never been published), and try to engage the owner in some productive conversation so that i could still write a positive post- even without images. but anyway, i’m not interested in getting into a pissing match with you. however, you are absolutely welcome to post whatever you like about me, my blog, or anything discussed therein. and actually, i love pink, it’s my favorite color- i just really don’t like their logo.

1 06 2010
WTF

BTW the only reason I am reading this blog is because you linked this to Shopaholics Boutique website and also your review didn’t stop the hundreds of people shopping there this memorial day weekend, it was probably the busiest store in Old Port, I was there.. I know… :)

1 06 2010
wtf2

Blogs are great because you get to explain YOUR experience and YOUR slant on what happened. I commend you for doing that. We, your readers, trust you, as we share your sensibilities. As much as WTF wants to condemn you for your opinion, the great thing is, you get to have it! So, WTF, shop on, shop where you want, spend your money where you’d like. Just know, you won’t see me there. Mostly because of YOU..not the store.

PS I’m not the writer of this blog’s “friend” I’m just a fan of the blog. BUT, things look a lot clearer from the top of your Eiffel tower don’t they?

2 06 2010
bessmarvin

awww. thanks for the back up! i feel very strongly about free speech, and don’t censor or edit my comments regardless of how unflattering they might be to me and/or my blog. i completely agree that this town is big enough for all kinds of people and shopping establishments. but the bottom line here is that rudeness and poor customer service could get you burned.

1 06 2010
jdenkmire

For the record, I go to Bull Moose and take multiple pictures every Sunday. They’ve been nothing but pleasant to me. And no, it’s not sketchy.

2 06 2010
bessmarvin

i think that’s why i was so weirded out! i’ve been doing this for almost a year, and this was the first time that anyone ever laid the smack down on me. it totally caught me off guard, and i definitely could have been more smooth about it, but still. i don’t expect people to kiss my feet or offer me discounts when i tell them that i’m writing a post about them (i would genuinely prefer it if they didn’t)- but i would never expect them to be so rude. so many vendors in town have been so welcoming to me, i am really having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

2 06 2010
Rebecca

Taking pictures in a store is shady? Really?? Welcome to the year 2010. There are sites like Yelp that are full of reviews & pics from consumers (yes, pics.. of stores, restaurants, their wares, etc.). This is how we roll now. I was recently in a wonderful, upscale, consignment vintage shop out here in San Francisco, & the owner had no problem with me taking oodles of pics (of pieces ranging from $120-$800) to share with my friends online. Her only concern was that a few items from her displays were off being photographed, so things weren’t set up quite as perfect as usual. So.. gently used Seven jeans should have a higher security clearance than vintage Chanel? Give me a break. Hold your head high; you’ve done nothing wrong.

2 06 2010
bessmarvin

i feel like people are really having a hard time with the new definition of privacy in the digital era. i definitely learned my lesson about asking before snapping, but i don’t think it entirely forgives the coldness. how could he have not known that i was going to write about it? and yes, you are very right to say that vintage chanel gets security clearance over EVERYTHING. possibly even the president.

3 06 2010
WTF WTF

I shop at Shopaholics Boutique often and I’ve meet the owners who are really nice. It’s a pity to find a piece of trash story like this out there. I guess any loser with a blog can trash your business, which is incredibly sad. Your only lame gripe was that the owner acted cold to you? Who the hell do you think you are Perez Hilton? The Dog Whisperer of Portland? Sounds like he knew you were what you are a nobody with a nobody blog, good for him. From your story I guess he didn’t want what you were selling. You’re lucky if I owned a store and you came walking in snapping pictures like you were some real writer or something and then after getting shut down you still asked a bunch of probably annoying “awkward questions”, I would have kicked your ass out of the store. A store is private property, you don’t have the right to walk in and sell your crap, especially when you are just someone with a Word Press blog… wooo you’re on Word Press, really? wow, can I get a picture with you? Sounds like someone needs to get over themselves, real fast.

3 06 2010
Kate @ The Blueberry Files

woah, i don’t think you could be any more off right now! bess is so humble both in her original post and her replies to all the nasty comments you have been posting.

3 06 2010
bessmarvin

thanks kate! i was totally feeling like i’ve been slightly too snarky… after all, it is my natural mode of being. i’m glad to know that it hasn’t come off that way.

3 06 2010
bessmarvin

you’re right, i am only a wordpress blog. a wordpress blog with a small (but totally awesome and extremely supportive) following. and no, i don’t think i’m famous, or perez hilton (dear lord what a mess THAT would be!), or that i deserve special admiration/treatment of any kind at all. i write because i love to write, and because it’s a great way for me to connect with new people. and for that reason, you (and shopaholics boutique) probably shouldn’t be too worried about me and what i have to say. in fact, my original post had been long forgotten before this whole mess dug it back up. unfortunately for shopaholics boutique, because of this recent outcropping of attention stemming from your comments, more people are now aware of my unsavory experience. i would also like to make clear that when i was in the store, i was not actually selling anything (that was just a euphemism for him not being interested in what i had to say). i don’t charge for my posts, and i don’t make money from this blog at all (i wish!). i simply post about whatever seems interesting/pertinent to the topic at the time. i entered the shopaholics boutique because i was interested in possibly writing about a new business in the old port, and that’s exactly what i did. rereading my post again, i still feel as if i was pretty fair. i actually had a lot of really good things to say about the business, in spite of how i feel i was treated. anyway, you are still more than welcome to post whatever you like in this comments section, but it appears to me as if you may be doing more damage than you are good. however, if you are on good terms with the crew over at shopaholics, please encourage them to come on over and tell their side of the story. who knows, maybe they can change our minds!

3 06 2010
amy

Dear WTF….we all know who you are, and your embarrassing your self now. Stop before you lose any more potential customers.

There was a better way to handle this from the beginning – but since you didn’t take that path – its really just best to back away now….

Do it for dignity’s sake.

3 06 2010
bessmarvin

more than anything, i think she’s doing more damage to her case than i am. i’ve thrown down the gauntlet twice now trying to get someone (officially) from shopaholics to come over here and defend themselves against this perceived mistreatment… but still nothing. if nothing else, they should really be looking for a more eloquent spokesperson. maybe they should try craigslist?

3 06 2010
Justin

Wow. I had heard about your drama, but just read the whole blog now. As someone who formerly wrote about businesses and people for a certain local newspaper, I can tell you people will huff and puff all the time if they perceive something bad in your writing. I’ve been called terrible things and I can’t begin to say some of the things my writing was compared to. People can suck.

That said, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s odd the owner(s), er, I mean WTF, would continue to come back to the blog after their initial disgust over the whole affair.

I think that says a lot about boutique owners in the OP tho…

3 06 2010
bessmarvin

it’s actually kind of exciting- like a little soap opera happening right here in the middle of my otherwise boring life. is that screwed up? i won’t lie and say that it doesn’t suck to be told that i am lowlier than perez hilton, but i figure that i took a critical stance on a local business (and possibly approved the use of the term “vagina cleaner”), i shouldn’t be surprised/hurt when my venom gets spit back in my face. also, the fact that this person (WTF) can barely string a sentence together (and clearly cares not for the charms of proofreading) makes it all less hurtful and more hilarious. regardless of how this whole sordid affair turns out, it’s generated some really interesting conversation, i’ve gotten a lot of really amazing/unexpected support from my friends and readers (thanks to you too btw), and learned a lot about what constitutes libel/slander. i have possibly even picked up a new reader in WTF, as it appears she’s been coming to visit fairly often. (i should probably thank her for the page views)

3 06 2010
Chris Cavs (Part Time Vagabond)

Hm. WTF is a troll, plain and simple. And what has the internet taught us about those people? DON”T FEED THE TROLLS!

You were treated poorly by a store proprietor who, instead of seeing the potential for more business, chose not to work with you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in retail, it’s that your customers are your lifeline, and the better you treat them – each and every one of them, bad or good – the better your business will fare. It comes from a lack of understanding of the blogoshpere and new media. His loss.

S what if you were taking pics of the store, and he was upset about that? You were probably wrong about that and should have asked permission first (that’s still a judgment call). Yes, it’s private property, but the store owner opens his doors to the public, so there is an implied share of the pie there. In any event, his reaction to you seems inappropriate, and without a reaction from him, we don’t know his version of the events.

This WTF character was not there (or if he/she was, they are not letting us know, hiding behind a lame internet moniker), so their opinion is just that: an opinion, to which they are entitled. But the name calling with no basis is uncalled for and inappropriate.

Sorry, but WTF, you’ve lost all credibility.

3 06 2010
bessmarvin

thanks for the backup! :) i’ve had so many people tell me that the store owner should have tried to make peace rather than get angry, and it’s totally true. i’m pretty sure it was just outright rudeness, but i suppose that what happened between me and the store owner could have just as easily been a misunderstanding. if he had apologized and tried to explain his view of the situation, i likely would have posted an update/altered my original post to show that they were making an effort to mend the fence. everyone has moments where they’re grumpy or react badly to an awkward situation (i certainly do!), and an earnest apology/explanation can do wonders for a relationship that started off on the wrong foot. i definitely learned my lesson about taking pictures before i have spoken with the proprietor (never again!), but i really do feel as if he was unnecessarily mean. as for WTF… she’s doing enough damage to herself (and the store that she defends), that i don’t even feel a need to address the name calling.

4 06 2010
Patrick Banks

Kind of sad but also funny when people are their own worst enemies. Guess I’ll keep shopping at Material Objects and Find. Or Big Lots for when I need $3 dollar flip-flops.

7 06 2010
bessmarvin

dude, i fucking love big lots. i could browse their terrible $3 dvds for DAYS. but yeah, there are too many really awesome and friendly consignment stores in town for me to bother with a place that is rude to me, and then threatens to sue me when i tell people about what happened. it was really kind of amazing… they did all the damage themselves, and i barely had to lift a finger.

7 06 2010
Patrick Banks

It’s a survival of the fittest business environment, and they just gave themselves a Darwin Award.

4 06 2010
DJNoRequest

I for one have been enjoying the whole exchange.
Thanks for the Friday chuckle.

7 06 2010
bessmarvin

glad to hear you enjoyed the ride, it was pretty wild. i’m actually a little sad that they have backed off… it made my day a little more exciting wondering if i might get served at any moment.

7 06 2010
Stuff and Junk: June 7,2010 « Sweet Disorder

[...] would have totally given this place a chance based on the description of a skirt in this review, but the comments left by the owners a “friend” of the owners made me realize that my [...]

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