The other night after a long day at work, I walked into my longtime favorite store, Gap, and decided to remedy my solemn mood with some retail therapy. I found some polos in some colors I liked and began rummaging to find my size, XXL. Sadly, I couldn't find it in the blue. So then I looked at the pale blue. Not there either. Charcoal? Not there. Green? Not there.
Not thinking much of it, I walked over to ask an associate to look in the back for me. Some stores, like American Apparel for example, keep their XXL sizes in the back, I guess to save room on the sales floor. All you have to do is ask for an XXL. In a way, it's kinda fun, like a secret no one else knows. So when I asked a Gap Associate for my size, I was told that Gap was no longer carrying XXL in the stores and I would have to order everything online from now on.
I'm not sure what I felt at that moment, but part of it was embarrassment. Regardless of the words the associate used, all I heard was, "we're not serving your kind anymore". I felt discounted and almost ashamed for some reason. Basically, Gap hurt my feelings. But as I turned to leave the store, my feelings of inadequacy quickly turned to anger. On my way out, a different associate approached me with, "find everything ok?" to which I could only muster a boisterous "NO!" and walked out.
How dare they do this to ME? Me, who's been a faithful shopper to that company for the past 20+ years. Me, who worked for the company in both full and part-time positions for a period spanning 8 years. Me, who stuck by Gap even back in the late 90's when they had their identity crisis and then subsequently apologized to an abandoning public. Me, who has mentioned that I love Gap on this blog about a dozen or more times.
Being my size, my choices are already limited. I can't buy stuff at the mens' boutique shops because nothing is above a large. Another favorite store, Club Monaco, usually only stocks one XXL in everything and there seems to be someone beating me to it all the time (and CM doesn't have online shopping). My choices have been pretty much reduced to Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. And since all of those stores are the same company, it's a pretty good bet that Banana and Old Navy will follow Gap's lead if they haven't already. Which basically reduces me to zero options.
I sent a letter of complaint to Gap and asked for the reasoning behind this situation, but all I got back was a canned apology, thanking me for my correspondence and telling me how important my feedback is.
Eventually, I guess, I'll get used to this. I just won't be able to run in and pick up a new shirt for a party or trip or even just to make myself feel better. I would think that in today's economy, no retail company would want to disclude any type of shopper, let alone make the process more difficult.