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My Holiday Hall of Shame

It's been quite a hectic week, what with work, jury duty, an unexpected fall, a jewelry and wine party at my house and umpteen meetings, I didn't get a chance to share the embarrassing situation I encountered this past weekend. And trust me my friends, this one is a doozy.

It all started last Saturday. My daughter asked me to take her to the nail place for a manicure so she could look glam for a birthday party she was attending that night in Manhattan (my daughter is only nine). I dutifully obliged and when we drove into the parking lot near Sophia's Nails, I figured I'd give my child a treat and suggested we hit the pricey tween clothing store in the same complex. Since Grandma was sending a check for Hannukah, what harm could be done if we went in and bought a cute outfit for the party. Or so I thought.

Little did I know that the owner of the store (who I really don't care for) was out on the prowl and in rare form. You see, at this boutique, you cannot avoid the salesgirls. They stalk you at every turn, offering their advice, shoving overpriced jeans and t-shirts in your face and before you know it, your kid is in the dressing room trying on 20 outfits valued at over $2000!

On this particular day, the owner decided that we would be her pet project of the afternoon and she eagerly took us under her wing, showing my daughter about 8 pairs of pants and 10 shirts. If we were in Old Navy, I wouldn't have flinched, but every time I looked at a pricetag, I wanted to lose my lunch. $62 dollars for Tractor Jeans, $102 for another pair of designer denims, $70 for an oversized t-shirt. Ugh.

My daughter proceeded to the dressing room and tried on everything, and of course, she looked adorable. In my mind though, I was calculating all the purchases and figured if I bought 3 pairs of jeans and 3 tops, I could split it with my mom and call it a day. But something funny happened on the way to the cash register. My daughter tried on another pair of pants (sweatpants to be precise) and loved them and I figured, okay, throw in the sweats. And then, the owner told me that she had something that would go great with the pants and proceeded to show me a matching $88 jacket which she promised shed give me a "deal" on as well as a gift certificate on my entire purchase.

So here I was thinking I'd probably be saving at least $100 or more and I walked up front to pay. I think the girls at the register were so excited to see me coming that they didn't know who should ring me up first. When I informed them that the owner was going to give me a discount on my purchases, they called out to her asking if they should give me the "Thanksgiving discount" and she practically scolded them for suggesting that option and told them that she would take care of it. Stupidly, I thought that meant she'd really take care of me. But sadly, I was mistaken.

As they rang up the entire order and I stared at the number on the cash register, I almost lost consciousness. $555. Yes five hundred and fifty five dollars for a few outfits for a nine year old. I normally shop at the Target or Old Navy and come home with shopping bags full of stuff for half that price. And here I was standing there in a snooty store with a line formed behind me and I was too embarrassed to start putting things back. Plus, I thought the owner was going to "do right by me" and give me a sizeable discount. After she rang me up, she then took a gift certificate out and secretly wrote a number down on it for my eyes only. And when she handed it over, I wanted to punch her lights out. $20. Yes, twenty dollars! In this economy, this obnoxious store owner pulled the wool over my eyes, didn't give me a deal on that jacket, promised me a discount and gave me 20 bucks?

Suffice to say, I was beside myself. Probably because I knew my hubby would go ballistic if he found out how much I spent. I swore my daughter to secrecy (bad move) and we both lasted about 24 hours before we were found out. I've officially decided that if my daughter and I were ever convicted of a crime, we'd fold like a house of cards.

And so, after admitting my holiday spending blunder (I first told him we spent $250, then $350 and then finally gave the grand total), I apologized profusely and then promised to take half of the clothes back the next day. My daughter was actually great about it - no tears were shed and she opened her armoire, pulled out her new jeans and handed them over. The next night, I brought in my purchases and thankfully received some cash back - not enough cash, but at least the amount I thought I was going to get if the owner had actually given me a real discount.

Lesson learned - I am never setting foot in that store again and have advised my friends to steer clear of it too. In this day and age, I feel like a fool for being taken advantage of by a sneaky store owner, but now I've learned, if someone starts trying to shove fifty pairs of $100 jeans in your face, smile politely and say, "Thanks, but no thanks." Or, I could always send Arnold Diaz in from "Shame on You" and let him make an example out of her. Then again, maybe not.

Posted in: Blog, Role Mommy Confessions on 12/19/2008

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