Monday, January 29, 2007

Mind the Gap

I have to preface this story by saying that it's NOT about being all anti-corporate and hipster-cool and I-only-shop-at-thrift-stores-and-listen-to-indie-bands-and-forage-food-by-eating-boll-weevils-from-the-dirt. Sure, I have my moments when I am sure as hell skeered by Walmart and the fact that Proctor and Gamble owns everything, and that they both probably own me and this blog and the wax in your ears. But that's not what I am talking about right now. Ok? Or if I maybe AM talking about it a little, it's not in that totally annoying holier-than-thou Judgy Judgerson with a side of generalizations way. Because I know it's more complicated than that. So just remember, I'm not being annoying in that way with this story. Annoying in OTHER ways, I'll grant you, but not that one. Ok, preface over.

I was reading this entry by Josh about Gap clothes. How they allow you to fit in, be from everywhere, or nowhere. They are the ultimate place to shop if you want to blend in. As I am a fashion devotee, it was an interesting thing to think about. And because I am a compulsive collector of slightly amusing anecdotes, it made me think of this one that centers around my local Gap.

For a long time, I didn't shop at the Gap. I can't remember if this was a conscious decision or not. More than anything, I think it was just not a "me" store back in the day. So much of where we shop boils down to the marketing of the place, and the clientele, and whether we think our identities mesh with those two things. I could find a pair of nice black pants at Anne Taylor, or Eddie Bauer, or Club Monaco, or J. Jill, or J Crew, but I'm less likely to step foot in all but one of those choices, just based on what it looks like from the outside and whether the people shopping there look like my people. Think about your favorite store, and that logic is probably going to factor in somewhere. When I think about my friends, and what their favorite clothing stores are, it always, always fits them so well that it's almost poetic. Well, poetic if you think about clothes the way I do, which admittedly, is pathological.

Ok, so back to the Gap. I didn't shop there for a long time. Just didn't. Analyze it however you wish. Until last year, when I went in there to buy some t-shirts for Nordic Boy. I went up to the counter with my items, and the woman working there gave me the "save 10% if you sign up for a credit card" spiel.

Me: No thanks.
Her: It's really a great deal. With the credit card, you also get lots of other perks and discounts throughout the year.
Me: No thanks.

And then the urge to over-explain my "no thanks" overcame me. She looked very disappointed. I remember working retail for commission and all that shit. I felt for her and wanted her to get why I was rejecting her.

Me: It's just, I never shop here, so I don't really need a card.

The girl stopped folding the t-shirts and stared at me like I'd blown snot on her cupcake.

I got the urge to over-explain AGAIN. I don't know what came over me. I do not usually jibber-jabber like this to total strangers, ya'll. (Wait, I guess that's pretty much ALL I do on this blog, isn't it. Jibber-jabber to strangers. You got me there).

Me: Yeah, I mean, heh heh, I actually have never shopped at the Gap before in my life.

I may as well have punched this girl in the sternum, friends. Verbally, I kind of did.

Me: Well, no, I mean, not that I wouldn't, or don't shop here on purpose, or I mean--
Her: Hey you guys! This girl has never been in a Gap before!

And she called her co-workers over. Yes she did. They all gathered around her and stared at me.

Me: No, I didn't say that. I've been in a Gap before, I just hadn't bought anything here until today--

Her: So, like, where do you live?

Like I had to be from Siberia, or the top of Mt. Everest, or Mars to have made such a statement.

Me: I live down the street.

Her: And you've lived there for like, a while? You're not from...somewhere else?

Me: No. I'm from here. Can I have my t-shirts please?

She and her Gap-mates stared at me some more, but they gave me my shirts and I scurried out the door. I immediately went home and had a snack of boll weevils. They sell those at Starbucks now, you know.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl


Anonymous said...

Yeah retail can be rough. On both ends buying and selling. You can always shop online for your t-shirts!

Anonymous said...

Bastards! I just love that word now for some reason. Someone told me that someone they knew called a female a bastard. Ever since then I've been trying to find any excuse I can to use the word. Something about calling a girl a bastard just sounds wrong though.. doesn't it?

MAP said...

The Gap still bugs me because I used to shop there until they changed their clothes to only fit really teeny girls with no boobs. XL my ass.

Recently I won a Gap gift card and bought a pair of pants there - it had literally been at least 10 years since I had bought anything there.

velocibadgergirl said...

See, that's WHY I don't shop at the Gap. It annoys me that it's supposed to be this place where "everybody" shops. No thanks. I think the only thing I ever bought at the Gap was a horrendously ugly pair of pleated khakis back in 1995. Every time I walk past the Gap (or Abercrombie) I just get sort of grossed out by the white-bread-ness of it.

Sauntering Soul said...

Okay so don't hate me but I actually worked at Gap Kids as a second job back in the day (but I only pushed the credit cards on people when a manager was watching over me). And can I just tell you that my fat arse will not fit in Gap's stuff very well yet we had to wear their clothes. This was what I called my "I look a lot like a stuffed sausage" period.

WDL said...


I shop there for my box cut boxer briefs. In my esteemed opinion they are the best in town.

Gap knows underwear.
Thats about it though. I briefly worked there when I first moved to Chicago. Like 3 weeks. When I quit, I gave no notice. My "manager" said "Do you know how bad this is going to look on your resume?" and I said "Do you really think I'm going to PUT THIS on my resume?"

I was in Chicago a few weeks ago, and stopped in for some undies, and low and behold, she still works there, almost 10 years later!

ahh, carreer success is so relative.


Katie Kiekhaefer said...

*sigh* I shop at the gap. Jeez, first I'm admitting I don't like wine and now I'm admitting I like shopping at the gap?! Someone shut me up.

Anonymous said...

I shop at the Gap, too, Katie! I just am not very imaginative or creative when it comes to fashion. My goal is generally to look reasonably cute while spending as little time shopping as possible. Having said that, skinny black pant = hurl.

Sphincter said...

I'm with Map on the Gap. In the past they had been the King of Comfy Sweats for me, too.

Desperate Housewife said...

I don't like the Gap. It annoys when the smug 17 year old employees with their headsets tell me how to wash a pair of jeans, like I haven't been doing laundry since before they were BORN.
And I find Gap stuff falls apart too fast.