Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Stink

So, after many, many, many, MANY tours of all the shopping malls in America (seriously, MANY) I have come to the conclusion that I can't stand Abercrombie and Fitch. A few years ago, I stopped shopping there. It's not my style anymore. And you know the old saying, "If it's too loud, your too old"? Well it was too loud in there.

In the following years a strange thing has happened, they started reaching out to lure customers in. It started with half nude models at the front door and now includes a scent sprayer just (barely) inside their doors. From 6 to 10 stores away, whether indoors or outdoors, you can smell that store before you can see it.

It fills my head. It closes off my breathing. My brain shuts down and the headache begins.

I'm not alone. 30% of Americans have some form of asthma, allergy, scent sensitivity or breathing issue. ONE THIRD of America is being poisoned by one store.

I already know all the arguments that are about to come up. If you don't like it, don't go there. Other stores have perfume spritzers too. Get over yourself. (I know those are the arguments because I was looking into this topic and read all the 14 year old comments to all the crabby grandpas online.)

So news flash, I DON'T GO THERE. And yes, other stores have perfumes and perfume spraying salespeople, but none of them have a perfume misting machine written into their lease agreement to be used at their front door. And as for getting over myself, I did that years ago.

So now in addition to not going into the physical store, I am avoiding wings of malls. This week, I have decided to give up an entire mall because there is just no escape. And since I am now a crabby old grandpa, I no longer just walk away. I believe retailers have the right to know why they lost my business and what they can do to get it back.

So I wrote the following letter to my local mall:
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:38 AM
Subject: Air quality concerns

I recently came to the Grove to shop the Men’s Half Yearly sale at Nordstrom. I parked my car at the East Valet and as I entered the open air courtyard I was surprised at how much of the “open air” was filled with Abercrombie perfume.

I am a member of the Grove Loyalty Rewards program. I live within walking distance of the Grove. I am unable to enjoy any part of the Grove that is to the East of the fountains. I can not access any of the stores that surround the fountain area.

Abercrombie is using scent spraying machines inside their stores. They are filling the public air space with toxic chemicals. 30% of Americans have allergies, asthma or other breathing issues. By not stopping Abercrombie from filling the public space you are telling 30% of your customers.

Abercrombie is free to do what it likes with the air inside its store. But when that scent enters the public air space as such a level that it chokes your customers then the landlord is responsible. I am sorry, but until the matter is resolved, I will be forced to shop other locations. I will be letting Nordstrom, the Gap, Crate & Barrel and the restaurants at the Grove know why I am unable to enter their establishments as well.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
And that is when I discovered that Abercrombie has it IN THEIR LEASE that they are allowed to poison the shopping experience for 30% of America:
Dear Jim,

I am very sorry to hear that the cologne at Abercrombie is of an annoyance to you. It is by no means an intention of our Center to deter any of our guests from having the best experience possible while on property. We always appreciate any feedback given to us here at The Grove as it only assists us in creating the most well tuned instrument possible for our visitors.

In regards to the scent machines at Abercrombie: In their leasing agreements the Abercrombie store is permitted to use their cologne machine inside their store. This agreement is the same for every mall and location an Abercrombie is located at. If you are looking at other Centers, you might want to check if there are any Abercrombie stores or any of their affiliated stores on those grounds as well, because they will all contain scent machines. As a result of them having open doors during business hours some of the smell is lifted by the wind, but I assure you there is no scent machine located on the outer parts of Abercrombie or any in use by The Grove itself.

Furthermore, they are regulated at what levels they are allowed to use their scent machines. At the Grove, in compliance with their leasing agreement, they have to have their machine set at the lowest possible setting. It is consistently monitored by both the Managers of Abercrombie and The Grove Management makes sure this is done.
Again, we at The Grove are deeply saddened that you are disappointed with that area of the property. We hope you are able to have the best experiences possible when visiting The Grove and as always we appreciate your patronage. I truly hope you have a better experience going forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future with any other future inquiries or feedback you may have.

Best of the best,
Drew M.

I'm no expert, but isn't this all the grounds for some sort of class action lawsuit? American with Disabilities Act? Isn't having Asthma bad enough, but to be shut out of the unique American experience of shopping in a public space... that's just downright cruel.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have an ADA claim because are allergies considered a disability? Maybe some lawyer would take it on as a nuisance lawsuit, but I cannot imagine what your damages would be. See why I practice criminal law - crimes are just easier to figure out...

Sherri said...

I soooo hear you!

I've held my breath and walked on the other side going past LUSH stores, Yankee Candle, Bath & Bodyworks, and a few others that market lines of highly synthesized fragrances because they hit me right in the head. Now, when I enter a mall, I head for the map so I know where "problem" stores are and try to plan my travels accordingly. I also am careful walking through the perfume area of large department stores because some perfumes will trigger a headache (and a few -- even ones I liked a lot -- have brought up skin reactions).

I have similar (but more severe) problems with cigarette smoke, so sometimes just walking IN to a mall (and through the crowd of smokers clustered near the doors) is problematic enough that I just don't go.

Online shopping has become so much more preferable.