Friday, February 26, 2010

The Case of the Missing Store

Has an experience ever made you seriously question your sanity?

I had been trying to buy earrings to match this one particular dress for ages. I had gone on a few targeted shopping excursions and browsed around on a number of nights after work, but all to no avail. Thus, when my friend A___, who was visiting during New Year's, requested that we go shopping, I made that weekend my self-mandated deadline. I was going to find earrings for that dress. Period. And so I did.

Honestly, when I bought the earrings, I wasn't wild about them; I was just so sick of shopping that I let the sales girl talk me into buying the last silver pair she brought out, even though the shoes I had already purchased were champagne-colred, and even though I had hoped the earrings would look a little more . . . delicate. The pair wasn't horribly expensive, and I was beginning to doubt I'd ever find anything I actually liked; moreover, it was embarrassing to look so picky in front of my friend, so I just decided to settle. After all, I couldn't keep shopping forever. Maybe my "ideal earrings" simply didn't exist.

However--as seems to happen with every spontaneous or rash purchase I ever make-I was browsing at Macy's the very next weekend for a completely unrelated item (a bracelet to match a different outfit) when I stumbled upon what appeared to be The Perfect Earrings. They were just "un-gold" enough to match the champagne-colored shoes, and they had little purple gems dangling from their ends that were the exact shade of my dress. They weren't too big or gaudy or sparkly, and, what's more, they were 30% off. All told, they were perfect.

Of course, I purchased the earrings, intending to go to the Queens Center Mall the very next day. This way, I could shop for the bracelet (which I had failed to find at Macy's), and I could also return the now-superfluous pair of silver earrings. I had bought them at a jewelry store called Ladies and Gents, and if things worked out perfectly, hopefully I would find a bracelet at that store, make an even exchange, and be home before lunchtime!

True to my plan, I arrived at the mall on Sunday morning, armed with the earrings and receipt. Like any good girl scout (okay, true confessions: I only graduated from Brownies--I was never actually a proper Girl Scout. But I've been on enough camping trips to have learned navigation and preparedness), I immediately sought out the mall directory. I was fairly certain that Ladies and Gents--the name of this store--had been on the second floor, but as the mall had four floors and two separate buildings, I could easily be mistaken.

The obvious listing for this store would be under "Fashion/Accessories." However, as I didn't see the name there, I logically moved on to "Women's Apparel." It wasn't there, either, nor was it below the category "Other." "Well," I thought to myself, "I was just here last week. Maybe the store is so new that they haven't had a chance to add it to the directory. I'll just walk around until I see some familiar stores and can orient myself. It shouldn't be too hard to find."

Off I went. I found the Victoria's Secret store where A___ and I made not one, but two individual purchases. I found the H&M store where I got lost, and even the phone kiosk where A___ bought a screen cover, but although every time I rounded a corner, I was convinced I'd found it, Ladies and Gents was nowhere to be found. After covering the second floor, I went up to the third floor. Then, I went down to circle the first floor (even though I was 99% certain A___ and I had not even gone down there during our visit). The store, of course, was not down there, so I walked to the mall's adjacent, smaller building where there was mainly a food court, a bunch of kiosks, and a few small stores, and followed the same protocol. To no avail. Aggravated, I returned to the main building, circled the second floor a second time, and then rode the escalator up to the fourth floor, convinced that even if I could not find the store up there (since I knew for sure that A___ and I had not been to that floor), maybe I would glimpse it below.

Finally, in complete frustration and embarrassment, I entered another accessories store and asked at the counter. Part of my embarrassment stemmed from the fact that, at this point, I wasn't even sure I was correctly remembering the name of the store. It wasn't listed on the receipt, so maybe I was making it up? It had to be something at least remotely similar though!

"I'm sorry," I said to the salesgirl, "but I'm looking for this other accessories store. I think it's called Ladies and Gents...or something like that? It's this big square store with a completely white walls. It just sells accessories; no shoes or any sort of apparel."

The girl conferred with her coworker, and they agreed that the store was on the second floor--like I had originally thought!--"back toward Macy's." I thanked them and headed down the escalator, back the way I had come.

As I approached the entrance to Macy's, I still did not see Ladies and Gents, so I stopped at a jewelry kiosk and asked the attendant if she knew where the store was located. She looked a bit puzzled and claimed she had never heard of it. I was now starting to panic, just a little bit. Stores did not just disappear. Why could I not find this place? A___ and I had definitely been here last week--I had these stupid earrings to prove it! Was I completely blind? And why did no one seem to know exactly where it was?

Since the store was allegedly "by Macy's," I walked into the department store, right up to a woman at the perfume counter, and asked her if she had heard of this store and if she knew where it was. She shook her head but said that her colleagues were more likely to shop at that sort of store, so they might. She found a blond, overly lipsticked girl, who came over smiling brightly and seemed to have news.

"Oh Ladies and Gents! Yeah, that store used to be right next door."

Used to be?

"It's so weird because it was there one day, and I came in the next day and it was just gone! Like, it had closed, and that wall had been built right over it."

We all turned and looked out through the glass doors of the perfume department. She was right--there was long, a freshly painted white wall to the right of the store. That was where I had bought these earrings?

"But I was here just last weekend," I told her.

"I know! It was so weird for a store to suddenly close like that. If I hadn't known it was there before, I never would have known it even existed!"

I look at the earrings in my hand, thinking that the Twilight theme song should probably start playing. Well, at least I wasn't going completely insane.

But never let anyone tell you that "____ doesn't just disappear." It might!


Meghana said...

That sucks! Glad you found the perfect earrings though. How much were the others, and what do they look like? I'm sure you've realized by now that I'm always in the market ;)

agoldste said...

You found my blog! I am so pleased.

They're rather thick silver-gray earrings with a little loop where they go in your ear and then a big front-facing loop that dangles down. I can bring them to work to show you if you want! I think they were, like, $10 or something. Sadly, I would not wear them on a regular basis. As you have seen, I do not change my earrings very much....