A few weeks ago, I had hands-down the GREATEST shopping experience of my life at a little place called Destination Maternity (575 Madison Avenue, 28 East 57th Street, www.motherhood.com).
I still hadn’t told folks at work that I was pregnant and I wanted to be prepared for that inevitable morning when my belly popped and my clothes just didn’t fit anymore. So after a good deal of online research (read: shopping) I picked a store that seemed to have reasonable prices, was close enough to our apartment, and was open when I was ready to go on a Sunday afternoon (read: more shopping).
It was raining, so rather than walk the ten minutes to the subway and then another couple of minutes once I arrived at my stop, I decided to try out a new bus line. A magical new bus line. A bus line that felt like it was made just for me.
I boarded half a block from our apartment and got off across the street from what was about to become my all-time favorite store in the whole wide world. Given, it was the first time I’d been to this store, so it took me a while to realize I was just across the street. But once I figured that out, it blew my mind how direct my trip had been. I learned later that route back uptown picks passengers up right in front of the store. This thing isn’t just a bus; it’s a golden chariot.
Once I’m inside, and really whenever I’m shopping alone, I like to keep to myself. I’ll always tell the first salesperson to greet me that I’m just fine, just looking, and no, I don’t need any help, thank you. I get in a zone and prefer not to be interrupted.
Now in a maternity store, even if you’re not showing yet, there are some unique questions that could make a girl feel all warm and special, or could quickly remove one from her beloved shopping trance. In the latter case, the shopper’s initial response may be akin to that of a deer in headlights.
Exhibit A: Would you like some juice or a bottle of water?
- First reaction: Won’t I have to pay for it? That’ll be like four dollars. Plus, I had juice with breakfast, like I always do. Gosh, this is like when you’re in a restaurant and they automatically refill your glass without asking, even when there’s still something left, and you didn’t read the menu closely enough to see there are no free refills. I will not be fooled!
- Realization: The clientele at this store is constantly hungry and needs to keep sugar levels up. And this free juice is Tropicana orange—perhaps my favorite juice ever. Answer next time? “Juice, please.”
Exhibit B: Can I set up a fitting room for you?
- First reaction: Hmm . . . I’m not holding very much, and I kind of prefer to wait until I’m ready to try things on. It’s not that I mind handing clothes over, or that I am too bothered by the give-us-your-first-name-so-we-can-use-it-even-though-we-don’t-really-know-you thing. But I do like my space when I go shopping by myself. This is precisely why I shop by myself.
- Realization: Again I thought about where I was, and realized that those of us with child will be able to lift less and less over the next few months, so maybe putting things down and getting some help now isn’t such a bad idea. Good move, sales folks. You seem to know me better than I know myself right now. . . .
Once I got used to these things, the seventh-month baby bump with Velcro straps in the fitting room wasn’t too much of a stretch. In fact, the first time I put it on, I teared up a little. Then I went on to try on four or five different pairs of petite maternity pants (yes, thank goodness, petite!), which all fit me just about perfectly. I may have teared up again.
At the end of the trip, I wished I hadn’t gone alone. I found some great jeans and work pants and a cute dress very quickly and easily. The salespeople were patient and thoughtful. The sizing was straightforward, and the prices on the Motherhood Maternity side of the store were indeed quite reasonable. Overall, a great shopping experience.
Oh, and did I mention the free juice?