Sunday, July 08, 2007

Retail Customers Don't Have Arms...

Today, while on a leisurely stroll along Bloor Street and Yonge Street, we were suddenly struck with a sickening realization: retail customers don't have arms!!! What, you say? Yes, 'tis true, they don't. This has been confirmed for us by an employee at Holt Renfrew. It all began when...

We walked past Holt Renfrew this afternoon and were greeted with a blast of cold air. This was a bit weird, given that the outside temperature was over 30C. This could only mean one thing: that Holt Renfrew was one of the many countless businesses in the GTA that keeps its doors open during heatwaves while blasting their stores with Arctic frostbite air-conditioning.

As good environmental citizens, we endeavored to get to the bottom of this mess: we went inside the store, found the concierge desk, and demanded to speak with the manager. Unfortunately, with it being Sunday, the manager was not on the premises, so we had to settle for the manager's business card instead. When we confronted the girl at the desk about the fact that the store keeps its doors open while blasting its A/C, the only explanation she was able to offer us was that this was caused by the fact that their regular doorman has been on vacation for the past two weeks. This could only mean one thing: retail customers don't have arms! After all, how could they? If they need a concierge to open the door in order for consumers to go into the store...and if in the absence of said concierge, the door must be kept open, then yes, it IS true! We saw it with our own eyes!!!

Upon leaving, we informed the lady at the desk that we would be closing the door on our way out, to which she promptly agreed. As it so happens, another individual had come up to the concierge desk to make that very same complaint. At least we were comforted to know that we weren't the only ones out there who actually seem to care about our planet. As we left, we closed the door as promised, and our fellow concerned citizen kicked the wedge used to prop the door open off to the side so that nobody else would be encouraged to prop that door open.

Fueled by our outrage, continued walking along both Bloor Street and later, along Yonge Street, in search of other similar violations. There were numerous violators, and we decided to take note of the ones we saw. We also went into a number of these places to complain. Below is a summary of our experience:

  • Holt Renfrew (on Bloor West) - Per above description, we were given the manager's info: Barbara Wolfson at 416-960-7177. Don't worry, Barbara, you'll be getting an e-mail from us soon.

  • Guess (on Bloor West) - While the person with whom we spoke was sympathetic to our cause, he admitted that sometimes the door stays open, and sometimes it stays closed. When we asked to close it, the said it would be closing in 30 min anyway, when the store would close down for the day (guess he missed the point!). When we asked to close the door, he refused to comply. The best he could do was give us the number for their head office in Toronto: 416-640-1036. Note: we were told that we were the third set of customers to complain about this today!

  • Nine West (on Bloor West) - After getting a deer-in-headlights look from both an employee and the store manager, we were told that it was store policy to keep the door open. We then asked for a number we could call to complain: 1-800-561-3690.

  • Aritzia (on Bloor West)

  • Aldo (on Bloor West)

  • Burgundy's (on Yonge south of Bloor) - They even had their front window open while blasting the A/C.

  • Yonge Sports & Footware (on Yonge south of Bloor) - After going inside to complain, the employee agreed to let us close their door. When we passed by there later the door was still closed. Thanks, anonymous employee!!!

  • The Church of Scientology of Toronto on Yonge north of Wellesley - Didn't bother going in there cuz we didn't want to be abducted by Xenu.

  • Ozz Jeanswear (on Yonge north of Wellesley)

  • Teashop 168 (on Yonge south of Bloor) - Per my post from last year, it appears that they still stick to their store policy of leaving their door open.

  • Palm (on Yonge north of Wellesley)

  • Bedo (on Yonge north of Wellesley) - This was la surprise du jour. When we went in to ask them to close their door to be responsible environmental citizens, the one employee we spoke with was EXTREMELY receptive and grateful! He promptly closed the door as we left.

  • Mudo (on Yonge south of Bloor)

  • Indiva (on Bloor West near Avenue Rd) - This one was a rather unpleasant surprise. When at first we asked the employee there why he was keeping his door open while blasting the A/C, he replied mockingly, "Because we're evil." Although he let us close the door on our way out, we knew that he was just humoring us, because it was near closing time anyway.

  • Mendocino (on Bloor West near Avenue Rd)

  • Maison de la Presse (on Cumberland) - The fellow with whom we spoke was quite compliant and apologetic. Thank-you, anonymous employee!!!

  • New Time Luggage (on Yonge north of Wellesley) - When we confronted the lady at the desk, as the A/C blasted from the ceiling onto my shoulders, she tried to convince us that it wasn't even on. When we asked her to close her doors, she said it would take some time because of the merchandise hanging on the doors outside. We offered to help, be she said that she first needed to confirm that the air-conditioning was on. You don't need a rocket-science degree to tell that the A/C is on when it is MUCH colder inside than outside. Sherlock Holmes would be proud...

What our explorations taught us is the following:

  • Most employees are helpless if they are told to keep doors open by upper-management per store policy. At the same time, employees, just like the rest of us, were born with mouths and should say something to management rather than be passive about it.

  • We're not the only concerned citizens out there. Having met an equally-concerned citizen at Holt Renfrew and hearing of other similar complaints being made at the Guess store, it's nice to know that we have support.

  • We were often told that doors are left open to keep customers coming in, and to keep the economy going. Well, guess what? There won't be an economy if there's no Earth left to live in. Take off those money glasses and see the big picture for once.

  • A few places told me that they would be closing their doors very soon anyway, because it was near closing time. Captain Obvious strikes again! Clearly they missed the point, as they failed to understand that it's about keeping the door closed ALL DAY, not just while the store is closed. I really hope that they at least turn off the A/C when they leave at night, but seeing as most places are fairly well-lit even when closed at night, I highly doubt this.

  • Retail customers don't have arms. Clearly the future of the well-being of our planet is in doormen, since, by paying someone to stand there to open a door for you, you'll know that the store is open for business. That and it keeps the A/C inside the store. A win-win situation!

And now, the grand finale, here are some reasonable solutions to cater to our money-grubbing society:

  • Install a 2nd set of "inner doors". We saw a lot of places with their inner doors closed while their outer doors were open. That way, they get to have their cake and eat it too, by attracting customers with their open set of doors.

  • Post a sign on your door to indicate that you're open even though your doors are closed. And take it one step further and say that you're doing this to be a good environmental citizen.

  • If you want to leave your door open, turn off your A/C.

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