Eternal Shopping Questions
Today I headed out onto the streets of Paris once more, taking a chance during a sunny break in the weather… I was lucky, only a few spots of rain, nothing requiring umbrella coverage. It seems the cold has well, and truly set in. There are men on almost every corner selling fresh, roasted chestnuts (probably the same men who during summer were on these same corners selling bottles of ice water), and girls with scarves so big only their eyes are visible. Coffee smells better, and the cafes look even more inviting.
Inside shops it’s more than warm, and it seems no matter what the day or time, they are packed. Getting up close and personal with the clothing (or anything for that matter) requires training, stamina and real determination. I’d even recommend going in a team, since if you’re on your own, you might find yourself being pushed out of the way no matter how much you think you’re standing your ground.
Uniqlo has a huge, new store near Paris Opera. In it’s opening week, you could expect to stand in a queue outside for over an hour, wait at the cashiers for a similar amount of time, and as for trying on the clothes in the cabines d’essayage one can only imagine. I’ve been inside a few times now. It’s colourful, and well laid out. The queues for the change rooms are still long, and the fight to look at clothes is just a fierce as ever. Today I was on a mission… Find some of the lush items spotted in the catalogue. And now is where the eternal shopping questions start. Why can’t I find any of the things I spotted in the catalogue? Do they really exist? Maybe they sold out? Maybe they haven’t been released yet? Maybe they are hidden? Surely that’s not the same thing? But most boggling of all is perhaps… If this is the “Flagship store” and they don’t have what I’m looking for… then who does?
I was disappointed after Uniqlo. I’d gone out in the cold and battled elbow-to-elbow with fellow shoppers, and still I left empty handed. I thought I’d gone prepared, I’d made a small list. There were four items on my list and none of them were available. Online only two of the items I went to look for are available. (I’m a big fan of online shopping, but I’ll save more on that for a future post).
Since the weather was holding I up I continued to walk, pointing myself in roughly the same direction as Friday. It was quite surprising the number of small shops and boutiques that were closed. This is still something I need to remember about Europe. Shops can designate a closing time or day on top of Sunday. In Italy we found that most chose Monday morning, and the shop owners would get their paperwork done in that time. Here it can be anytime… for example a popular boulangerie on our street chooses to close Saturday and Sunday. Why? Is the question I ask myself. Surely profits would be better on a Saturday? Anyway, this made window shopping a bit boring, as I couldn’t even go into many of the more interesting boutiques. I even managed to get lost today (something that doesn’t happen too often as I have a good sense of direction). I lost my bearings and couldn’t find the Vintage shop with that leather biker jacket. Ce n’est pas grave… I can go another day, and pray to the Shopping Gods that the jacket is still there.