Two little Boston Terrier girls bring their Momo & Mr.Momo to Paris for a long stay. These are the tales of their very fine adventures.


Your Guide to Shopping According to Momo with A Snort from L&P

L&P suggest you skip it. Shopping with the George-Bush-Thank-You-Euro-Dollar-Exchange will make you cry eventually. The Euro price sounds pretty good until you look at your actual bank transaction and then honestly, it is a sad sad moment.

However, if you must shop, here the some useful things to know that Momo sugggests you memorize.

1. Store hours are merely guidelines. If it says it is open until 9PM, well it might be. And it might not be. The store may close at 8:45PM say for no other reason than to just close. So don't go expecting to shop until 9PM. Opening hour is usually ok, but I would never get there on the dot of opening. You just may have to stand out in the rain for a little bit.

2. Employees of the store are not there for your benefit. They are there for their own benefit. Please don't confuse the two. While it is polite to greet them with a nice bonjour, don't expect that to be a segue into them waiting on you.

Unions, the ever popular manager of all things called work in France dictates the role of an employee and you, the shopper, are there to guess what that role might be. For example, there are stockers who are not to be confused with sales clerks who are not to be confused with cashiers, who are not to be confused with merchandise movers. What, you ask is the difference between a stock person and a merchandise mover? Ah, glad you asked. A stock person merely fetches stock from wherever stock might be. A merchandise mover is the one to move the items in one display to another. All day long.

So, lesson here. Listen up. Don't think you can go back to the same store and find the stuff you thought you should have gotten yesterday and expect to find it where you last left it. Uh uh. It will either be gone, disbursed among other things, or rearranged somewhere else. If you don't buy it the first time, forget it. Remember that scary Michael Douglas movie with Brittany Murphy doing that sing songy voice - "You'll never find it" ? Or whatever that line was I hear it every time, but I suspect I just rewrote it. And sadly, there is not a union job for helping you locate moved items.

That is, unless you happen upon them moving the stuff. Then, my suggestion is to just follow them. It works. I have done it successfully. It does not hurt to look pitiful either. They may let you pick through it, but that is rare.

3. Along the lines of retail employees, here is another tidbit. They do not care that the item is not your size (for proof, see my shoe posts). They want you to buy it so they will pester you with lines like: You buy it? You take? All done? My lunch time, you buy? No more sizes, you buy? Take? And my personal favorite, wrapping it up just because you handed it to them. Often there is a you-touched-it-you-buy-it unspoken rule. Be assertive. I have had salespeople look like I took their candy bar when I said non. When I purchased some fleece fabric to pretend it was a fleece blanket for L&P I asked for 2 (thinking yards) and apparently I got 2 meters. We have a big big blanket. As the cutter (that is her sole "job") was unfolding the bolt, I realized my error and stopped her at the point where I thought there was plenty. Non, non was her reply, Duex. I asked for duex and duex is what I was getting even though it wasn't cut yet. It's an awfully nice big blankie. And conversely, some don't care if you buy anything. It is not their job to sell anything to you.

4. When you say bonjour and parlez vous anglais and the clerk says oui, perhaps they do and perhaps they do not. It isn't like English is even a second language here so don't expect much. While I am sure many French speak English, those people are probably not working in the retail world - at least that is my experience. Better for you to learn some important French phrases first.

5. And speaking of phrases. Don't bother with "how much" which is what the books want you to know. Learn stuff like, where is (fill in the blank), or sizes, numbers past ten, gift, please wrap, for a man, for me. All those little things you take for granted when shopping make for giant roadblocks if you don't know the language. How much is usually right on the tag or a sign. They are good about marking merchandise clearly with prices.

5.5 And speaking of prices - you will be surprised to know that many items are the same price as they are in the US. For example, I purchased some Origins products that were marked with the identical price I pay at home. But ha ha ha. It was Euros, not dollars. So if you have moments like I do, you may actually think the price is fine. That is, until you realized you just paid about a 30% premium for the same stuff plus the bank's 3% international transaction fee. Many products are global now and are marked with similar prices here and in the US. But don't be fooled. Because of the Euro's strength and the dollar's weakness, you are gonna pay dearly. Better to take a bigger suitcase and bring that stuff than to pay for it here. For now.

6. Stores are closed on Sunday and some are closed on Saturday. If you don't buy food for Sunday before Sunday, you might go hungry. And if you want to do some other shopping, head to the tourist spots. Everyone around them breaks the rules, pays the fines, and counts on the tourist traffic to make up the difference. But in the regular neighborhoods you might as well stay in bed because there is literally nothing open. For many French, especially in retail or the service industry, Sunday is their only day off.

7. Some stores close for lunch. Watch out for that. You could easily be cooling your heels for two hours waiting for it to reopen. And most stores close around 7PM with the exception of one night, often Thursday where they are open later.

7.5 Not all stores are open M-S. Some are only open T-S. Some are closed Sunday and Tuesday. Check the hours, the days, and call just to be sure.

8. Security in stores is very very common. You will see a nicely dressed man in a suit positioned at each entrance and exit with a little walkie-talkie and the ever essential "secret service" bug in his ear. They look imposing. Say bonjour and be kind to them. They get ignored all day long. And they will often open the door for you. Again, like the men in green, another realm of employment in France. From time to time one might follow you around a smaller store. That has happened to me a few times, but your job is to ignore them if they do that. Pretend not to notice and don't steal anything either. It would be rude.

9. Don't always expect to get a shopping bag. In some stores there is a line for saving the planet and if you don't learn a little bit of French quite fast, you will find yourself shoving your purchases into your handbag. Bring one of those tiny fold up carry bags and stick it in your pocket or purse. It will come in handy.

10. Don't count on returning anything. Sometimes you can bring stuff back, but you will only get a store credit or have to exchange it, if you can do anything at all.

Shop in France, but be selective. L&P would like you to know that if you come here with your puppy, please bring lots of good toys. It is hard to find dog toys here and they are expensive. L&P rate shopping a big old 2 because frankly, they would rather be napping. Momo rates shopping day by day, and typically it ranges from a 5 to an 8.

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