The Power of Place

We were at DSW the other evening, killing some time between dinner out and a movie. I like DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse?). They have lot’s of shoes I like and they play some cool downtempo music. It’s fun to hang out there. It brought to mind something I have noticed. In the retail/service sector, there are places that I enjoy and can hang out for awhile and other places that I can’t wait to get out of. Why is this? I just don’t know. But off the top of my head here are some of my faves and not-so-faves:

Places I like. These are places where I can go up and down the aisles and generally put me in a good mood:

  • Small bookstores
  • Trader Joe’s
  • PCC (a natural grocery chain)
  • Metropolitan Market and Thriftway (local high-end chains with lots of specialty foods)
  • DSW – I am not sure exactly why I bought that last pair of shoes, but it’s almost like I need to buy something before I leave the store. And I’m not that into shoes!
  • Hardware stores (even Home Depot when it’s not busy and I’m not tired) – I especially like McLendons and Dunn Lumber (small Seattle-area chains)
Places I don’t like. Get in, get out, avoid if at all possible:
  • The Post Office. On those rare occasions when people working the counter actually have a pulse and there is only one or two in line, then it’s not so bad.
  • PetSmart – I love dogs and cats, so how can I not love PetSmart? I don’t know, but I don’t even want to be friendly back to the friendly cashiers.
  • Big box office supply stores – Staples, Office Depot, Office Max
  • WalMart – This place is generally oppressive to me and puts me in a bad mood.
  • Large shopping malls, especially the upscale ones – Recently I was in Nordstrom browsing the “sale” rack and saw a shirt on “sale” for $385.
What about you? What are your most-loved and -hated places?
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86 Comments

Filed under Life

86 responses to “The Power of Place

  1. Looking through your list, I see a theme: They’re tactile. You’re engaged in these places, and encouraged to touch/try on/experience.

    Except for me, Trader Joe’s is just plain dangerous. I can’t walk out of that place spending less than $100.

    ;)

  2. I love that small bookstores were the first on your list.

  3. Isn’t Walmart on the top of almost everyone’s ‘hated’ list? I know its on mine!
    My ‘liked’ would have to be any store with artistic merchandise or displays. I love the visual stuff.

  4. Great post. Places I like would be big, big shopping centres with lots of clothes shops!
    Places I don’t like – definitely with you on the post office! and electronic places like PC World – absolutely hate them haha

    http://pjmgfashionn11.wordpress.com/

  5. Walmart is the devil, no questions about it.

    Although i was recently visiting the states and it is kind of fun to run up and down the freezer aisles in SuperWalmart and make all the motion-sensor lights turn on.

  6. I think this is very pleasant light writing. I too want to share my place after reading
    your lists. We do not have many bookstores left to browse.

  7. I also love bookstores. I can stay there all day :)

  8. most-hated: anywhere there are crowds

    most-loved: anywhere without crowds

    thanks for such a great blog, kelly!

  9. I like, rather, love the lake and the mountains. My love seems to be growing. I went to the mountains during the month and I felt peaceful and rested as soon as I stepped out of my car. The air was therapy.

    Places I am not in love with would be DMV or any Governmental place it is always a long wait. Pondering it over, I realize I am so grateful I don’t live in a country where long lines are a way of life.

  10. I have no excuses – I am a guy, just retired.

    I like old hardware stores with worn, wood floors and smells of paint and fertilizer. The men who work there have been there for decades, except for the young guys hired for the summer to haul bags of mulch out to women’s cars. The old guys take the time to tell you how to fix anything and they are never condescending.

    I like real country stores that are in tiny towns or at the confluence of a creek and a river. The proprietor lives above or next to the store. Some stores even sell used guns on consignment. Some smoke their own hams and pump gas. Most sell live bait. These stores are the gathering place for locals, and they always say “hello”, or “leave some of the fish in the creek for the rest of us.”

    I like the woods, creeks, and fields where an old guy can let his dog run loose.

  11. Ah, yes, small book stores always put me in a great mood too. I understand the reasons why you like the other places as well, but…I have to ask…hardware stores? Really?? ;)

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  12. Way to spell it out so clearly. I’ve always known that I like the beach and I hate Walmart. I just haven’t ever considered the influence that these places have on my overall mood. This makes me want to begin categorizing all of the places that I visit into either positive or negative influences. Thanks for some good thoughts!

    • Thanks for your comment. It made me consider the idea of going to a specific place for mood adjustment. Like, if I’m feeling down and isolated (like the rest of the population of Woodinville, WA) a trip down to the local Barnes & Noble will do the trick.

  13. Fun post.

    My most loved: my local deli/cafe, my tailor’s, my home, a few favourite restaurants
    My most hated (well, “hated” is a bit strong, to be honest, let’s just say boring): post office, bank, basically anywhere where there are potentially long & dull queues.

  14. i LOVE DSW (clearance section to be specific). And trader joes. don’t get me started.

  15. I think I feel the same way in places, but I’ve never really thought about it. I really agree with the disliking of Walmart, but in a place like Target, a slightly smaller but much nicer everything-store, I could browse through aisles for a long while before losing interest.

    Great post.

  16. I agree with you on book stores (I even love the bigger ones- at one point I practically lived in Borders…) and Trader Joes… however no PetSmart?!?! I used to love (when I lived in the US) to just browse the isles and look at all the great coats/beds/collars etc that my dog definitely does not need…lol.
    What I do not like are those huge clothing discount Ross dress for less types of places… not because I would not want to dress for less.. but because I find them so oppressive and impossible to find anything you are looking for and people just toss the clothes and not put them back….etc etc.

  17. Lauren

    Trader Joes is my favorite too! Cannot wait till one opens in West Seattle!

  18. nice post–i like our local mcclendon’s hardware too even though we have a giant lowe’s. and bookstores–my favorite. too bad so many small bookstores are struggling right now.
    congrats on being freshly pressed.

  19. johnlmalone

    I love the beach. We live 5 minute drive to the beach. So almost every day I’m down there, reading, writing, walking or swimming, if it’s summer.

    I also love linear park which runs along the river to the sea. It’s a wooded area and good to walk or jog along when it’s too warm on the beach

  20. Perfect lists. We should go shopping!

  21. It creeps me out to go to the cryobank, just sayin’.

    Mr. Bricks

  22. Hey.. I left out one: IKEA! I love to hang out at Ikea. I have to drive an hour to Kent to get there, so I have to have a good reason to go to Ikea. I want to get a big art print for my new office and some more bins for my cubby thing.

  23. I tend to like office supply stores. Office Depot tends to be on the top of my list. I’m rather ambivalent towards Staples, and Office Max is probably the last resort before running to the big blue beast (a.k.a. Wal-Mart)
    I typically like computer stores, though I’m not a fan of Best Buy.
    Clothing and shoe stores are places I go only when absolutely necessary.
    I like to cook, so kitchen supply/gadget stores are kind of fun.

  24. book stores are my favourite!

  25. Interesting post. I have to say I hate DSW….walking endless aisles to find about 5% of the stuff in any way interesting. Too much energy for too little reward. I also loathe the post office: rude, dirty, slow, understaffed. Nightmare.

    My new book is a memoir of working retail and in it I included interviews with three local merchants in my small suburban New York town who own their own stores: a pharmacy (since closed, sorry to say), a hardware store (4th generation, still in the family) and a gourmet store. I realized how much I enjoy shopping there because in each case I’m buying from Greg, Hassan or Aqeel. I’ve met their kids. I know my money keeps an individual and his family thriving — not some fat-cat CEO meeting his quarterly projections demanded by Wall Street. The personal touch — and the lovely aesthetic of Mint, Hassan’s gourmet shop (he’s a former photographer, with a lovely sense of elegance and style) — mean an enormous amount to me.

    • Thanks for your comment. Sounds like a cool book. Yeah, I feel the same way about small mom&pop stores. I will happily spend more at a locally owned store instead of handing over money to the big box corporations. For me, it’s about community above getting the best deal.

  26. coleenmonroe

    Favorites = Bookstores, Libraries, Farmer’s Markets, Museums, and the wide open unobstructed wild.

    Not = Big box grocery stores (think CostSamsWalGet), Churches, Shoe Stores, and Dive bars.

    • Nice list! Yup, farmer’s markets should have been on my list. I can’t explain why I like DSW. It must be the downtempo music.

      • DSW’s store layout is unique. The aisle’s are wide, the shelves are about four feet in height, and there are few store employees roaming the store. It is an open, well-lighted place. Next time you’re in DSW, look at the ceiling. The store’s design is a model of CPTED, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. You are being watched via video cameras, but the surveillance is unobtrusive. Good for customers, bad for shoplifters.

  27. It’s really a nice list. Maybe i should go shopping :)

  28. Hmmm….. and to think, I was singing in Staples this evening.

    • If I walked into Staples and someone was singing there it would change my opinion. :-) There’s an idea: how about having a small stage in office stores. Local performers are always looking for places to play. They would have to start serving beer, however. They wouldn’t have to pay the musicians with cash–just comp them an ink jet printer cartridge or two.

  29. I love small bookstores :) on the other hand I absolutely detest Home Depot. bletch!

    • I can manage Home Depot if I have one or two things to acquire and I know where they are located. Then it becomes a surgical operation. Get in. Get out. Our local hardware chain, on the other hand… it’s fun to down the aisles.

  30. An interesting thought, hope Retail guys are listening

  31. Well I like to go out shopping!

  32. I like little bookstores, cosy breakfast cafes, charity op shops, furniture stores, stationery shops, supermarkets and quirky little clothing chain stores. I dislike government places with long queues, those little pop-up makeup stalls that kind of force you to try and buy and banks.

  33. alfigenk

    ohh i like book store ^_^

    i like place to hide a way

  34. One place I can’t stand: Abercrombie. Between the lighting, the music, and the overkill smell of perfume/cologne, it’s barely possible to walk in!

    • Never been. Never will. I resent the objectification of men in their big posters. I kind of get a glimpse of how women feel when their barely clothed photoshopped visages are plastered all over the other windows at the mall.

  35. For me it’s auditory. I enjoy stores with a quiet background, no loud, obnoxious music, something calm playing in the background. I do NOT like places with loud music or music with a very fast tempo, lots of people talking on cell phones as they shop, or places with lots of upset children (Walmart).

    I also prefer places where I’m left alone to shop (a sales associate should wait in the background and only interrupt me if it looks like I need help) but can find an associate easily if I do need one.

    Stores are really limited here… I’m not familiar with most of the ones listed. I enjoy:
    Hastings (bookstore)
    small private bookstores that have a cat or two roaming around
    oddities shops that are well organized (miscellaneous, moderately priced conglomerations of unique odds and ends)

    • Thanks for you comment. My wife and I were in a furniture store the other day and we were not pestered by the sales people. We were (pleasantly) shocked! Where do you live? I remember there was a Hastings when we lived in the Tri-Cities in eastern Washington.

  36. I am with you 100%. I have to admit though I do love a good sale and may well go anywhere for one. I love shopping at the hardware warehouse and thew bonsai nursery. I go all ZEN at the bonsai place. There is something a things.bout being amongst the beautiful living things. I love my balcony as a reuslt. It’s spring as of yesterday so now anywhere where there are flowers and smells! Nice smells that is….

  37. Amanda

    This post made me miss Seattle. I use to love going to True Value in West Seattle and had no idea why. I also loved PCC and any small store with great music!

    Amanda
    http://bullfrogsandbulldogs.wordpress.com/

  38. I love The Home Depot…I can walk around that place for hours!

  39. Walmart IS oppressive. I dislike it very much. Small bookstores make me happy. One place in particular is this place in Paris, very crowded, very old and very welcoming. Nice post.

  40. I hate electronic stores because my husband keeps me in them WAY too long. And I love Target. I could spend days in there!

  41. malcolm

    I love wide open spaces…mountains – the Himalayas especially where I’ve gone trekking. The ocean exercises a great fascination. I live in the extreme West of Cornwall, only a few miles from Lands End. We are almost surrounded by the sea. Hill walking in Wales and Scotland is also one of my favourite occupations.

  42. WalMart freaks me out. I feel so out of place in everyone I’ve ever been in. I don’t even know what it is about the place. I just hate going in there.

    • For me it is the older Wal-Marts, primarily due to the skinny tall aisles, the dismal lighting, and the crowds. I can tolerate a little more the better lit, more spacious Super Wal-Marts. But another thing that REALLY bugs me are the hundreds of security cameras, especially the ones over the checkstands, like they don’t trust their workers.

  43. Linda

    Easy on the post office; my dad retired from there (and yes, the institution has suffered greatly since his departure). He was a letter carrier but had he been behind the counter he would have been very entertaining there as well. Sometimes the right word will bring those counter folk to life (they really are people, despite rumors to the contrary).

    • My apologies. I was making a generalization. My dislike of most post offices has do with the lines. The post office where I have my PO Box is in a small town about 6 miles from here and it’s small, no lines, and the workers are very nice.

  44. techrelate

    hahahah :)… To me, it seems like people would love a peaceful place where they can relax or do what they love to do but on the other hand, people try to avoid crowded places such as the DMV, Post Office…because such places would give them a big headache. As for me, my favorite place is my house. Nothing better than staying home on a beautiful Sunday, where i would love to lay on my comfy couch and watch a good old movie with a glass of fresh lemonade on the table… and don’t forget about the chips…^^! Hmmm…I’m going to do it now!
    Anyway, Thanks for sharing and have a great day!

  45. I HATE going to Walmart. Sadly, I’m a pretty frugal shopper so I tend to find myself there 1-2 times a week. What can I say? They’re cheap. I also hate the Post Office as well. Going into the Post Office always seems like such a chore and you never want to be there, but there’s always a line so you have to be in there longer than you’re comfortable with.

    My favorite place to hang out is Half Priced Books. You got one of those near you?

  46. If you think about it, we live in the universe, we live on earth, we live in a country, we live in a state, we live in a town or city, we live in a house, and finally we live in our bodies. Our bodies are a place in which the soul lives.
    (2 Corinthians 5)
    Thanks for your blog. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  47. mjorgey

    Trader Joes is on my like list. I also love REI. When I moved away from Seattle, I’d go to the REI in Phoenix just to relax. I’m pretty sure I have a panic attack just thinking about going into a Walmart.

    Thanks for this post, it stirred up some nostalgia and got me excited to move back to the NW from Korea–where all stores send me to the brink of sanity.

  48. wow i pretty much LOVE every single place you posted that you like, and hate each one you don’t. i DISLIKE upscale stores with a passion — who needs $375 anything? (unless it’s electronics) i mean seriously? i love the down-home style, with all-natural trader joes and eco-friendly vintage resale. :)

    -Alexandra

  49. I love historic hotels, I love small local coffee shops, I love bakeries, I love farmer’s markets, I love high-end department stores, I love train stations, I love quiet swimming pools.

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