Hello, Jennifer Williams here. Most of you already know me as the food columnist for The Dagger. But what you don’t know is that I love to shop almost as much as I love to eat! So in keeping with that, I will now be writing a third column called Cloak & Dagger. Cloak & Dagger will essentially be a Secret Shopper blog, or exposé if you will. I will be allowed to vent about substandard shopping experiences in Harford County and also give praise to those establishments who are providing excellent customer service. This will provide honest feedback to local businesses on what they are doing right as well as what could be improved. So stay tuned!
Every Memorial Day I throw a huge party to kick off the start of summer. But this year was different. This year I decided to redecorate my living room on a whim. Lucky for me my husband is a laid-back sort of guy and usually just goes along with whatever plans I concoct.
Thinking that we would take advantage of some holiday sales, we headed into Bel Air for a television. First stop, hhgregg. Now, I’m the type of shopper that has a fairly good idea of what I want and how much I want to spend, so I’m not fond of forceful sales tactics. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we encountered. The salesman followed me around like a stalker and seemed to be pushing one particular brand – Coby. I have a hard & fast rule when purchasing something that I deem to be fairly inexpensive and that is to not purchase the extended warranty. And I explained this several times to the salesman but he either wasn’t listening or he didn’t care about selling a TV that day.
Switching gears, we headed to Brass & Oak Gallery for a TV cabinet. Because most TV’s are now lightweight flatscreens, the armoire-style cabinets are apparently difficult to find. However, they were able to offer one choice from a catalog but it was handmade by our Amish friends up north and was quite expensive. The saleswoman was very pleasant and spent a lot of time trying to locate something that would fit our needs.
Next stop – Gardiners Furniture in Churchville. This salesman was even more annoying than the one at hhgregg. I understand that the economy is in the toilet right now, but pestering me with constant questions and comments while I am trying to shop will not entice me to purchase anything. In fact, it is an immediate turnoff. And although the furniture was attractive, it did not seem to be as high of a quality as I prefer.
The search continued at Simply Grande in Forest Hill. What a beautiful store! We had the pleasure of meeting L.J. who gave us his undivided attention while I peered at every single nook and cranny of his establishment. This store fit me perfectly – champagne taste and a beer pocketbook. Plus they were able to provide financing to fit my budget (and when I say “my budget” I mean 0% financing – I hate paying interest!). And what’s a TV without a nice, new, comfy chair to go along with it? So I added a chair to my list and L.J. helped me go through every swatch of fabric to find one that suited the rest of my living room décor. And here’s a tip when buying customized furniture – take along the arm covers from your existing furniture so that you can pick the fabric that coordinates with it.
Exhaustion was kicking in after shopping for these big-ticket items, but I went to BJ’s to get some groceries for the weekend. Lo and behold I stumbled upon the perfect TV! A 42 inch that was just sitting there on the clearance rack waiting for a good home. And the difference between our experience with BJ’s versus HH Gregg was like night and day. Although I am quite sure that the BJ’s employee is not paid on a commission basis, he was very friendly, loaded the TV onto a cart for us, retrieved our warranty paperwork and even gave us an extra $20 off the clearance price on his new touch screen cash register.
The only downside is that I am a very impatient person, so I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new furniture (and for my husband to finish painting!). Meanwhile I think I will check out the Fourth of July sales…