Happy Thanksgiving, Or Why I Never Shop at Sears

Sears

Not even this would make it worthwhile to shop at Sears…

Our friends are about to welcome their first child sometime this month. It’s usually customary to do something nice, like get a present for the baby or stop signing them up for crap at RedFlagDeals.

As parents, we learned first-hand that baby clothes aren’t the best gift. Babies don’t grow at a set pace, they vary. That snow suit fits perfectly, in July…

So we (my wife) decided to forgo sending the half-dozen nappies, or Thomas the Tank Engine jumpers. Instead, we (my wife) wanted to give the gift of baby photography. It’s a rite of passage that every parent must go through: dragging your screaming infant to Sears for a portrait as the saleswoman tries to up-sell you on matte frames. We went through it, and despite the experience, the photos on the wall remind us of a quieter time (mostly because they haven’t released talking photos yet) and we have proof that on at least one yearly occasion, our kid can look presentable. Even if it is a total rouse.

Yesterday I biked down to Sears, and found my way to the photo studio, tucked neatly behind the snow blowers.  The sales girls were shocked I’d found my way to their abode and slightly disappointed their Hunger Games conversation was temporarily suspended. The encounter went something like this:

Me: I’d like to purchase a photo package for friends who are having their first baby.

Salesgirl: (sighs) We have one that’s $289 and includes the CD giving you full copyright of the photos.

Me: (resisting the urge to get into a copyright debate) That’s a little more than I’m looking to spend, what else do you have, preferably without the CD?

Salesgirl: They go from $90 to $289.

Me: What does the $90 package include?

Salesgirl: It’s got the CD, but only one photo on it.

Me: Then let’s make a $50 package, without the CD.

Salesgirl: You’ll have to go online for that.

Me: I can’t make my own package and buy it in the store?

Salesgirl: No. There’s a promo on the web site for $42. (she flashes a printed sheet of paper in front of me. I see “Groupon” on it)

Me: And I can buy it online and they can get the photos at any Sears, right?

Salesgirl: (she’d already left to serve another customer who stumbled in)

When I checked online, there was no special package. There isn’t even the option to make any purchase for the Photo Studio online. All you can do is book a session or sign-up for their email list.

And people wonder why Sears does badly.

I fully appreciate that you’re not getting the cream of the crop when you pay minimum wage. To expect extraordinary service is out of the question. I’ve done my fair share of retail servitude and feel like I know what to expect. But when those reduced expectations aren’t met, it’s time to move on.

I only shop there when my mother sends me a points card that expires in six months (that’s how I got my PlayBook!). I won’t even spend real money there. They’re a gateway to the mall, to be walked through because parking is abundant in their lot.

So, it looks like we won’t send the gift of photos to the new baby. At least they can be thankful for not being forced to go to Sears…

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About Ryan

I'm a writer-performer originally from Montreal, Canada where I performed stand-up and sketch comedy. These days I'm an Instructor in the New Media Department at the University of Lethbridge where I indulge in my fascination with creative media and technology. I've written and directed two web series and always seem to have a new project lined up. Busy is good.

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