Today on PhillyDailyNews.com: Share your craziest shopping story for a chance to win a $100 Nordstrom gift card. Solomon Jones will feature some of the best stories in a future column.
MY WIFE, LaVeta, is obsessed with online shopping. It's a problem she passed on to our daughter, Eve, who learned to say "Bloomingdale's" around the time she mastered the word "Da-da." I guess she knew those words go together. After all, Da-da's the guy who foots the Bloomy's bill.
Eve is 11 now, and her shopping habits have been permanently shaped by LaVeta's pointing and clicking. I'm afraid she'll adopt her mother's mall rituals, as well, and that's a scary thought.
I've seen my wife spend hours trying on outfits, then leave the mall without buying anything. I'm ashamed to say it, but before I wised up, I would often wait for her in that little chair in the corner of the women's department. You know the one. It's the husband chair.
In the early days of our marriage, I'd sit in that chair, fuming, while she tried on 50 outfits before purchasing a skirt. She'd get the skirt home, try it on once more and return it to the store the next day. It went on that way for years. Then online shopping came along.
My wife's discovery of department store websites was a godsend. She could shop for hours and examine every shirt, skirt, dress and shoe in the store, but there was one important difference: I didn't have to go along. That meant I could look forward to weekends that didn't involve store-hopping. Best of all, I was no longer relegated to the husband chair.
With department-store apps and an iPod Touch, LaVeta could browse all night, and if she chose to do so, she could go to the store knowing exactly what she wanted. For a while she did just that. She shopped at Macy's and Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, but when she engaged in her shopping ritual at Nordstrom, she discovered her department-store soul mate.
I'd wake up in the middle of the night and see a light shining from beneath the covers. It was LaVeta shopping on her Nordstrom app and plotting her next trip to the store. She'd go there and come back with fantastic tales of a mythical place where people shopped while a man played the piano. I guess I should've been impressed, and maybe I would' ve been if she'd told me that they had a string quartet featuring Jay-Z spitting lyrics to Beethoven's Fifth. But I'm not a department store guy, so I kept my opinions to myself. LaVeta didn't. In fact, she gave so many opinions in the online customer review section that Nordstrom started asking her for more. She told them what she thought, and, unlike me, they really seemed to listen.
This week, my wife's obsession with shopping has finally paid off. She's officially become a member of the Nordstrom advisory panel. I asked her how it happened, and she was only too glad to share.
"They wanted a diverse group of women to be a part of this panel, so I took the survey, which asked about your sense of style, your attitudes toward shopping and what's important to you when you shop. . . . I meticulously answered each question."
In truth, LaVeta had been answering questions long before she got that survey. She was also a frequent visitor to the site. Asked to put a number on her site visits, she put it this way:
"It's like the person who's a chain smoker and they need a cigarette to calm them down. I turn to Nordstrom.com and that's my equivalent to a cigarette break."
When she's working from home and gets tired of typing, she takes a Nordstrom break. Evenings and weekends, she window-shops on the site. When the kids come home from school and just won't leave her alone, the Nordstrom website is like Calgon - it takes her away.
Apparently, all that shopping has propelled her to the Nordstrom advisory panel. Asked what she will suggest as the first change to the store, she wouldn't say. But she did clue me in on the extent of her rather troubling relationship with the store.
"I love it so much that when I die, I want to be buried in the parking lot," she said. Then she laughed. I didn't. I just asked her how she liked the advisory panel job so far.
"It's a perfect marriage between opinions and fashion," she said. "Two great things that go great together, sort of like the peanut butter and chocolate in Reese's."
I don't know exactly what LaVeta will advise Nordstrom about, but they'd be wise to listen, because she's honest. I am, too. That's why I'm going to give them some free advice on behalf of men everywhere.
Get rid of the husband chair. Don't make us suffer in silence anymore.