Monday, March 28, 2011

Shopping with Lawrence

Today will be an exercise in selective journaling. By that, I mean that I did not do much yesterday other than play Civ IV and read, so I will leave out the more minor occurrences of the day and focus on one part of the day. The main story is Lawrence coming up to visit from Palo Alto, which follows.

I called up Lawrence (my freshman year roommate, for those who don't know) yesterday afternoon just to see how he was doing and what he had been up to since he left my house earlier this week. Since he booked his flight to Paris out of San Francisco, he is just hanging out in the Bay Area, bouncing between my house and a friend's house in PA, for spring break. He didn't sound like he was doing too much down at his friend's place, so, when I invited him to stay with me again, he started driving north almost right away.

When I talked to Lawrence on the phone, he had mentioned that he wanted to buy a nice winter coat and some new shoes for Paris. I told him that I knew some places around Petaluma where he might find a good coat or some shoes for a nice price. So, almost as soon as he came through our door, both of us went back out, headed first to Burlington Coat Factory up in Rohnert Park.

Walking in to the store, I started looking around for some coats but simply couldn't find any. I've seen plenty of different coats, different sizes and styles, and I was looking all over. I found suits and tuxedos and shoes and shirts and sport coats and vests but no plain, normal, keep-you-warm coats. Eventually I found an employee and, a bit embarrassed, asked him where the coats (at Burlington COAT Factory) were. He pointed me into the corner in the women's section and behind the racks of shoes, and I didn't feel too bad about myself. It was a totally illogical place for what seems like it should be the centerpiece of the store.

I started searching through the pretty pathetic selection of off-season coats while Lawrence started trying them on in front of a mirror. We found some decent leather jackets, but they weren't too cheap and weren't really Lawrence's (or my own) style. There were few others, and nothing very good.

The selection of warm medium and large jackets was just puny. If Lawrence could have just put on a hundred pounds or so, he would have been set for sure. The selection at this store was a pretty good testament to the sheer size of the common American. Large was one of the smallest sizes they offered! I wonder if anyone in Oxford or Paris will be wearing 4X...

Needless to say, Lawrence didn't find anything worth purchasing.

Next stop was Ross. It took about one minute to see that they had absolutely no coats. Being that it is Ross, that wasn't too surprising. We looked at some cheap shoes for a bit. The best looking shoes for Lawrence had American flags on them, which he didn't think would help him blend in among the Parisians too well. We left.

Lawrence needed a pitstop at Baja Fresh for a couple tacos before we headed back south.

I was determined not to fail Lawrence in helping him on his quest to find a winter coat at the end of March in California. I knew it would never be easy. My last hope was the Petaluma Outlet Mall.

We get there around 7 or 8 pm, and I was afraid all the stores would close before we could find anything.

It was a sign that things were looking up. At the first store we go into, Vans, we look around, and go to the back wall, the clearance wall. We see an employee put a pair of shoes back on the rack in the 10 1/2 section. Lawrence looks at it, and in the shoe box our a pair of black, high-top Converse-type shoes, just like he had said he wanted. He tried them on while I went to check on the price. Price check says that the pair is under $20, pretty good for exactly the pair of shoes he had been looking for. He tries them on, they fit nicely, they feel good, he pays, and soon we were out of there. Lawrence had some good shoes for a nice price.

Finding a jacket, the last task, was still daunting and prospects looked grim. We checked the Gap, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers, and a few others I forget, all to no avail. And then we saw, in the small window of Wilson Leather, a giant blue and white sign saying "LIQUIDATION SALE." The place was full of jackets, and not only leather ones. Once we were in, I was pretty sure we weren't going to find anything better. There were tons of really nice jackets - leather, cotton, polyester, wool - and many of them ridiculously discounted. It took a lot of taking things off racks, trying them on, and putting them back before we made the perfect find. In the back of the store, on a jam-packed rack of liquidation jackets, between a dozen leather jackets was a sleek, long, black, button-up, collared Guess winter coat for 78% off. He tried it on and it looked perfect. Stylish enough and warm enough for Paris. I gave him a few more to try on just to be sure it was the best, and it was. He bought it along with some water-resistance spray to protect it, and we were done.

In all, the excursion was 3 hours, but that's just how long it takes to find black, high-top, Converse-style shoes and a nice, black winter coat at the end of March. All at really good prices.

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