Friday, 29 December 2017

A Nightmare Crystal Maze...

Change is a good thing; we all have to move on and this time of year is as good as any to ring out the old and usher in the new. So, it was with optimism that I ventured – following many years of absence – into the “new” Brown Thomas store on Dublin’s Grafton Street. The “new” store occupies a site across the street from the former site, which is alright. Like I said, we all have to move on. But once inside, my optimistic anticipation turned from surprise to disappointment to disgruntlement to despair. Yes, I know that upmarket stores are slowly abandoning art nouveau and art deco references in favour of LED-outlined mirror panels. And I know that formal hierarchies of management are as obsolete as the harsh, right-angled counters that have now dissolved into touchy-feely, user-friendly product display “pods”. What floored me was the disappearance of the panopticon-like atrium, the glorious see-all-at-a-view configuration, whether from ground level or mezzanine balcony. In the old days, only bargains belonged to the basement, my dear, but now, the entire store is a nightmare crystal maze of tunnels and caverns. I wandered lost and lonely through a labyrinth lined with designer handbags, sunglasses and sports’ shoes. Feeling as out of place as Will Ferrell in every movie he has ever been in – especially THAT one – I watched children purchasing said goods from other children that were dressed up as sales’ personnel. Finally, I crumbled and asked for directions to the ladies’ bathroom. To be fair, the resident elves were sweet, friendly and very helpful – but it took no fewer than three separate briefings to direct me to the site of my focus, and I exited the store as soon as possible afterwards – sorry, BT, no profit from me. I get that Brown Thomas is now an emporium for well-to-do youth, but my question is: are there no shopping havens left for stuffy old traditionalists like me? The classical, grid-based store layout had its downside, but at least it enabled the customer a degree of independence in moving about – and gave the personnel a few square feet of private space during work hours. I wish the “new” Brown Thomas every success – and a Happy New Year to all..

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