I wrote this while on our little adventure to visit the in-laws over the weekend, but being without an internet connection, I couldn’t post it. And of course, I completely forgot it when we returned. It must have been the exhaustion from wondering the aisles of my favourite department/discount store….
I grew up in Kitchener, and I remember my first experiences with true department store shopping because I remember Eaton’s and especially I remember Goudies’ in downtown Kitchener.
That’s where I bought my first bra – after my mother called the “foundations” department and told them I was coming and asked them to help me find the right one, not the one I might think I needed or wanted. Goudies’ is also where my mother and I would go after my dentist’s appointments, when I would have a tin roof sundae (vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and salty red skin peanuts, with a serious dollop of whipped cream) as a reward for not biting Dr Pequenaut. It’s where my grandmother would take me when we go shopping for ‘notions’. It’s my childhood and young womanhood… and it’s not there any more.
Nor is Eaton’s which was where I had my first charge card, and bought my going away outfit, and where untold family Christmas gifts were found. Eaton’s was a Canada-wide chain and Goudies’ was a one-of local store, but they were very much the same – the kind of store which tries to be all things to all people, but with excellent customer service and middle-class prices.
Tar-zhay workers are pleasant, but they wear red smocks and carry walkie-talkies. The women who worked at Goudies’ wore suits and high heels, and they never hollered “give me a price on….”. The Tar-zhay staff can answer most of your questions but they do it with a sort of dismissiveness that’s not rude but neither is it the studied kindness I remember as a child in Goudies’ or Eaton’s. I do not really expect a store that sells me $10 boy friend t-shirts that fit my zaftig frame, or where Jeffrey can find Lee jeans for less than $25, or where there are items as diverse as shampoo and dog food and Weber grills and Emerson microwaves and a rather wide variety of groceries including local produce, to be anything but a little dismissive towards its customers. I just… must be incredibly old!
Or incredibly smart because I can see and appreciate what Tar-zhay does right. I see the wide aisles and bright lights and clever signage and easy flow from one area to another. I notice the cleanliness and the lack of odour (trust me, this is HUGE in my world), and I notice that there is some sense of quality and style in their goods, although let’s not confuse anything this company sells with anything that, say, Hermes sells. And let’s me honest – even if I forwent every $25 purse that I buy every spring at Tar-zhay for the rest of my life, I still wouldn’t have saved enough money to buy an Hermes bag, and would in the meantime be reduced to schlepping my stuff around in plastic grocery bags! I’ll spend my $25 and enjoy the annual new purse.
So now comes word that Tar-zhay is coming to Canada and I’m…. certain I will still keeping shopping the one near my in-laws. I feel like I know that store, that if I need a Weber Grill or a boyfriend t-shirt I can walk to the right aisle and back to the cashier in a matter of a couple of minutes. And if no one – customer or clerk – is wearing a suit and high heels, well… I suppose that’s not such a big price to pay to have a small price to pay at the check-out.