Vintage Shopping: Customer Service & Etiquette
If you want the real deal on a shop, you have to read New York Times writer Cintra Wilson’s column Critical Shopper. She pulls no punches. But there’s no Perez-Hilton-esque snark. She just tells it like it is in a hysterically educated way. So when I read Cintra’s review of infamous Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills, CA, it made me think about what kind of customer service is expected in vintage shops, real or virtual.
Lily et Cie got a well deserved lashing for their shitty attitude. But I do understand owner and curator’s Rita Watnick protection of delicate, and often valuable, treasures.
When shopping for vintage there are a few guidelines you should keep in mind.
1. Know your size
Seriously I cannot stress this enough. If you know your measurements, you’ll know you can’t fit into a smaller size. Forgo the humilation and anger of ripping a vintage garment. Go up one size. Never risk it.
2. Handle the garment by the hanger
Vintage silks and rayon are fragile and so are their seams. Handling by the hanger, rahter than the sleeve or skirt will protect the garment from tearing or shredding.
3. Put it back where you found it or give it to the clerk
This is especially true in an antque mall. Don’t assume that things can just be left laying around. If you forgot where it goes, simply give it back to the clerk.
Now I know this is coming off all preachy and elitist, but shopping for vintage is not like shopping at your local mall. Some care is needed with older garments.
But there is no way I would encourage you to shop with someone who does not value you as a customer. Stay away from virtual and brick and mortar stores with these red flags:
- Attitude – seriously there is no excuse!
- Unhelpful – if the seller can’t give you insight about the garment (history, style advice, etc.), then they are just selling “stuff” not vintage. Vintage is an experience.
- Lack of response – online sellers should respond to you in 1 business day unless otherwise stated.
- Doesn’t go the extra mile – Are clothes cleaned and in good condition? Do they offer care instructions? Do they call or email when they are having sales or found something perfect for you? These are all small things that show what an important client you are.
In today’s economy, apparel companies that incorporate these four details are faring well. Nordstrom and Zappos.com are two companies I will always shop with because they have earned my customer loyalty through customer care.
What about you? Which vintage shops have earned your loyalty? What will make you shop elsewhere?