Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm officially old: The Hollister Experience

Being the sensitive mother I am to the plight of her tween, I finally succumbed to her incessant begging and ventured into Hollister to see if there might be something I could nab off of the clearance shelf. I remember what it was like in the sixth grade to be one of the only girls in school who did not own a pair of the coveted Sticky Fingers or San Fransisco jeans.

For all of you oldies (specifically, anyone who is over thirty or acts over thirty) - and for those who do not have a teen or tween in the house, Hollister is a brand of clothing. While Hollister caters to the preppies ("Dudes" and "Bettys"), it's the rich surfer look that defines the Hollister style. But instead of branding their products with a cute little alligator, a majestic eagle, or a pony riding polo player, their clothing is emblazoned with a seagull. I hate seagulls - more like sea rats. As any land lubber knows, seagulls - beyond being annoying - are also the poster animal of the garbage dump.

I digress...

As you've probably guessed, I'm not all that "into" branding or brand names, although I do appreciate that some brands signify "quality" and "attention to detail" over other brands. Still, is it necessary to charge $39.00 for a skimpy thin cotton tee that probably cost $1.95 to make? Not to mention the fact that somewhere in Peru or Vietnam is a sweatshop where the calloused yet nimble fingers of eight year olds work tirelessly to create said product?

I digress again...

Still, to know Hollister is to visit the store, which an oldie like you or me might have trouble finding at first considering that the store entrance is made to look like an old surf shack, and the store name is hidden somewhere beneath the fake palm branch jutting out of the fake weathered pier stump.

Once you enter the store, you'll notice that the music is really loud. No. REALLY loud. REALLY, REALLY loud. "I can't hear my own thoughts" loud. And this is coming from someone who is a rocker at heart and likes to listen to loud music...

Next you'll notice that the store is really smelly. Overpoweringly smelly. The kind of smell you would expect to be overwhelmed with at a martini bar frequented by single 40 something men drenched in Polo cologne. In fact, if you have chemical sensitivity, then stay away from this store (and the martini bar at happy hour on Thursday nights).

And, you'll notice that it is very dark in there. Only a few display tables and shelves are lucky enough to be illuminated by the canned lighting.

My Hollister visit was nothing less than memorable. I found the store, covered my ears, ignored the smell, and was able to feel my way to the back room where clearance items always are in any store. Quickly, I grabbed two shirts, pushed past the dense fake palm branches, and made my way to the checkout counter. At the counter, the sales boy mumbled something - well, his lips were moving, and I keenly deduced that he was actually speaking. Nevertheless, I could not hear over the din, so I smiled and nodded. He said something else (at least I think he did as his lips were again moving), left for a few seconds, and returned with another shirt just like the one I chose. I guessed that there was some problem with the tag of shirt number one, and nodded as I thought I heard him say "same size."

After I made my purchase, I returned home only to discover that he gave me the same size in the WRONG shirt. Both were yellow tank tops, but the patterns and styles were totally different. Which meant I would have to return to the store AGAIN. Mistake or marketing ploy? Hmmmm...

My second visit to Hollister was pretty much identical to the first, but this time I brought three of the four daughters. I let the two younger kids run amok. The sales girls seemed unaffected by our disruptive presence as they were too busy spraying the shirts with cologne.

To be fair, the sales girls and boys were very sweet. Mostly, they tried to hide their surprise at our aberration from normal shopping trends. Not one shouted,"Go back to Old Navy where you belong!" I made my exchange, we felt our way to the exit, and smiled and nodded at the sales girls at the entrance/exit as their silent moving lips indicated a "good-bye, shop here again" farewell.


Anonymous said...

My mom loves Hollister, and is skinny enough to fit into their clothes. I need to buy three or four of their $40 t-shirts, rip 'em up, and sew them together to make something that will fit me.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. But you forgot not only rich surfers, but bulimic rich surfers.

Oh, and the "live-feed" from the California beaches they play, that makes you headachey to try to watch.

(We used to live in So. Cal, so seeing the beaches on the screens in stores in Colorado amuses me.)

bluesugarpoet said...

So funny you mentioned size - I noticed that! In fact, I didn't see anything larger than a size 9. Size nine there is probably equivalent to an XXXL?

Apparently, chunky people do not surf. Or normal sized tall people.

(Yeah, locationally, they are so far from a place to surf here that visiting this store in Central Texas is hilarious too.)

Ch@ndy said...

bol...i have been in this store.

it made me angry.

my children have not heard of it.

i am a lucky woman.

that said, i do happen to live in a town where real shopping requires a three hour drive over oft snow slicked mountain passes.

the passes do not scare me or make me angry, in fact, i love them for the wonderful purpose they have been serving for the last two winters.

when the weather warms up and the passes are easy to cross...well it is far to nice in our lovely town to bother crossing for shopping in the overcast, overpopulated, over-humidified Willamette Valley.

i have lived here nearly two years and it only took one winter to cure me of my former shopping hobby. the sad and yet, happy thing is that two years clothes are still in style.

bluesugarpoet said...

Oh, how I envy you to have those problems...

boo hollister! boo ever changing styles!

(Now excuse me while I go buy a trendy sweatshirt from Hollister...)

Anthony said...

...single 40 something men drenched in Polo cologne

hey - this could be someone you know soon. please try to be sensitive!

bluesugarpoet said...

Don't worry - Poetroad doesn't wear any cologne...

bluesugarpoet said...

(you know he turns 40 this year. but I won't let him go to the martini bar alone...)

Anthony said...

keep thinking, dear.

supergirl said...

poster animal of the garbage dump


pjd said...

...single 40 something men drenched in Polo cologne
hey - this could be someone you know soon. please try to be sensitive!

I am 40. Maria likes Polo so that's what I use (aftershave). But I wouldn't say "drenched" (Lord I hope not anyway).

I already knew I belong to a number of butt-of-jokes demographics. I didn't realize I now fell into the sleazy lounge-lizard joke-butt demographic, too.

I think I need a martinit.

pjd said...

martini. martini. Not martinit.

Damn old fingers typing whatever the hell they want.

Soon I will transition into the crotchety old grumpy man joke-butt demographic.

Do they make Geritol martinis?

bluesugarpoet said...

Y'all are making me laugh hysterically!!!

(Tell Maria that if she wants to update the cologne, she should go to Hollister to pick out that new cologne. I SWEAR they have stuff there that smells exactly like Polo or Halston Z14 - only it will be wrapped in a hip-rich-surfer-dude label. She won't be able to see in there, so tell her to feel her way to the check out counter. A display will be there.)