Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shopping Remembered

A very long time ago, Roanoke sported stores called Lazarus, Heironimous, and Leggett. Leggett eventually became what is now called Belk.

Heironimous was located downtown and Lazarus at Towers, though it might have been downtown as well. Both stores might have been at Crossroads Mall at one time, too - I am sure Leggett's was there. I cannot recall if either store made the move to Valley View Mall when it opened in the mid-1980s.

Heironimous, apparently, opened in Roanoke around 1890 and the downtown store closed in 1996. The store was located at the corner of Jefferson and Church Street.

I enjoyed shopping for women's clothes at these stores because you actually were helped. Twenty-five years ago, the clerks appeared to me to be little ol' ladies who wore pearls and dressed elegantly, but I feel sure that is faulty memory. Most likely they were ladies about the age I am now.

However, these clerks actually helped you pick out clothes.  When I worked downtown, I could visit Lazarus or Heironimous and all I need do was tell the clerk what I needed. "Something for work," or "something to wear to a wedding" or "something to wear to a play," and poof . . . the appropriate item appeared magically in their hands, usually in the right size, too. And if not, then I could go in a dressing room and they would fetch and carry, ooh and ahh if I stepped out of the dressing room (or tell me, "no dear, that really doesn't flatter you, let's try something else,") and I generally left with a great purchase that fit well and looked good on me.

These days, I'm lucky if I can find someone at a cash register to check me out of the store. And help in picking out clothes? Better bring a friend, because the clerk's are useless. Only once in the last ten years have I been helped out by a clerk who went beyond the call of duty and helped me with my purchases. If I remember right, I ended up spending several hundred dollars that day because she was able to find the right clothes for me. That was at Belk at Valley View, and might have been while it was still Leggett.

My point? A clerk who helps me out when I need it is a huge asset to the company. I bet, though, the company does not consider this particular selling point at all anymore. People are so expendable, you know.

I'm not sure why I'm feeling nostalgic for a decent shopping experience, except perhaps it is because I really need to go buy clothes again and I dread it. I wonder if others feel the same way.


  1. I'm thinking that now at stores you can request a 'personal shopper'. Not sure which of the department stores have them but it may be worth a phone call ahead of time to the store.

    I prefer to shop with no assistance, BUT, some of the smaller stores do have clerks that actually assist you and bring you things to the dressing room. I know what you mean about the 'ladies in pearls' though... I have that memory from years ago too.

  2. I bought ten shirts and four pair of pants two weeks ago at Macey's. The man there, Michael, and ex-pstrey chef from New York, was fabulous. He helped me in so many ways. I'm going back for more clothes when I loose my final 20 lbs in a few weeks and I will not let anyone but him help me. You're right, good customer service people are a tremendous asset to a company. So sad that the old days are rapidly fading away.

  3. I miss those days. I am always willing to spend more for better customer service, whether it's in retail, medical, car repair etc.
    Smaller stores, like Eddie Bauer have people ready to assist. It's the big stores that seem deserted of help when you need it.

  4. i miss the "old days" too....not so much having someone help me, just the nostalgia of the way things were...i remember our old sears store and it had a big candy store in the middle and my mom would always buy those chocolates with the white sprinkles on them...i remember going with my mom to our old jc penney's to buy my first bra, it was a very old jc penney's and i hid in the phone booth lol...i miss those old stores!

  5. I remember in Danville the store was called Belk-Leggett. My mom shopped there a lot. It reminded me a lot of JCPennys for some reason.

    I like shopping alone as well, but I do like to find help when I need it, which is a very difficult thing to find these days!

  6. Sometimes I get this way too: nostalgic not only for good service but certain places I shopped. Some malls just stick in my memory.


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