I’m starting a new series of differences between Australians & Americans prompted by today’s shopping experience. I’m not talking spelling or speaking but reactions and situations. Join in if you’ve got a story to tell.
Returns Bloomingdale’s style
I bought some candles for a friend whose birthday is coming up. I ordered them online (of course) and opted to pick them up in store because I wouldn’t receive them in time for her birthday dinner.
Cut to the chase I got the candles home and my daughter was snooping in the bag (she is obsessed with candles AND snooping!).
“Ew,” she screamed. “This candle has been lit.”
And sure enough it had. No sign of real lighting action but that wick was not white (or clear) it was black.
So I headed straight back to Bloomingdale’s the next morning so they didn’t suspect me of being the mysterious candle-lighter.
“Oh my god,” said the checkout chick (who is actually a bloke but then I couldn’t use the term ”checkout chick”), “that’s terrible. Ew. Let’s get you another one shall we?”
So off we went looking for the same product—but one that hadn’t been lit. Each time he passed someone who worked at the store he’d call out, “Hey Larry—or whatever their name was—look this poor lady got sent a candle that had been … (gasp) lit.”
“No way,” they’d reply in shock. “That’s terrible.”
It took us a while to find the same product but he looked up the stock and knew there were some somewhere. So off he went digging out the back to try to find more. And he did. And he sent me away a happy—albeit still shell-shocked—customer.
Returns Australia style
Let’s imagine how this might play out in Australia…
Me: “Hi, I bought these candles online and picked them up here yesterday but one of the candles seems to have been lit.”
Checkout chick (CC): “Oh,” glaring at me sizing me up to see if I hadn’t in fact lit the candle myself. “Do you have the receipt.”
Me: “Yes,” showing her the receipt.
CC: “And when did you say you bought them? Where from?
Me: Politely answer the question.
CC: “I’ll have to speak to someone about this, wait one minute please,” while walking up and whispering to her colleague both looking at me making me feel guilty like I deliberately lit that candle and took it back wanting a new one.
“OK, mam, this is an unusual situation. We won’t give you your money back we can only exchange and since the candle has already been lit then we can only exchange it for exactly the same product.”
Me: “Well that’s good because I want the candle, I got it home and found that it had been lit and it’s a gift and I really want to give them a brand new one, not one that’s been lit by someone else.
“Do you have anymore in stock? I couldn’t find them anywhere.”
CC: “I’m not sure you’ll have to look around and see if you can find another one.”
Me: “I’ve had a look around but can’t seem to see any. I only bought them online yesterday there should be more here somewhere shouldn’t there?”
CC: “You’ll have to wait while I serve this customer and maybe I can check stock for you. Or you might go back online and see if you can find some more.”
You get the picture? I love shopping here and not being treated guilty before being proved innocent. Plus the prices are better and it’s so convenient online!
Did you say Shopping in LA? Let’s face it, if you’re in LA you’re going to want to shop. The shopping here is pretty amazing and you can pretty much spend your whole time shopping if you’re that way inclined.
Strip shopping is great along Melrose Avenue (West Hollywood), Third Street (WeHo), Robertson (Beverly Hills) and of course there’s always Rodeo Drive. Westfield has come to America and revolutionised Mall shopping and with most of the malls outdoor you don’t have to sacrifice sun time–and don’t worry it “never rains in LA”.
So here it is a run-down of your shopping options. Whether you want to get it done quickly or randomly browse and enjoy all LA shopping has to offer, this post is for you.
Seen as a must-visit shopping destination in LA the Grove certainly gets busy. It’s easy to get to by Uber, taxi or car. If you drive be sure to check out for validations around the various stores. And if you want to get into the LA thing there’s Valet parking at The Grove. Do watch it though as validation is different for the Grove and the Farmer’s Market so watch where you park depending on what you’re after. (I usually park at the Farmer’s Market–if I’m lucky enough–especially if I’m going to pick up some fresh produce for dinner. I also found out that Nordstrom validates for The Grove parking so that’s a bonus).
LA’s idea of sightseeing: a shopping mall
Not only is it pretty but there are great places to eat and (of course) shop. There’s a massive H&M and you have to let curiosity get the better of you by visiting American Girl. For a complete shop/store listing click here.
After a multi-million dollar facelift and expansion Century City is making itself a must-do destination while shopping in LA. A Westfield Mall, it follows the recipe of destination shopping in Australia like Chatswood and Sydney City.
So convenient to Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and the westside there are great restaurants, good shops and very popular (you never know who you might spot).
Speaking of restaurants it has Shake Shack and our ultimate favourite from our Shanghai days, Din Tai Fung [shriek].
It has Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s AND Nordstrom’s, a HUGE Apple Store, Tesla (in case you want to buy a car) and high-end brands. It also has the usuals like Victoria’s Secret and Zara. More exciting for us Aussies is the Cotton On sighting as well as Typo. For a complete store listing click here.
And if that’s not enough Century City is very dog friendly.
If you’re staying in Santa Monica you really don’t want to drive up to LA to shop. And you don’t need to because there’s great shopping right where you are.
Check out Third Street Promenade–the famous pedestrian-only shopping strip with great brands and a great vibe. (I have to say I never shop down here because when you’re in Beverly Hills you don’t need to but it’s great shopping none-the-less).
Montana Avenue has upmarket boutiques and coffee shops but still offers a laid-back beach feel. If you’re in Santa Monica it’s well worth meandering along–you never know who you might spot.
And, for something a little more hip check out Main Street.
Like all people in Santa Monica, you’ll never have to leave :-).
At 45 minutes from Beverly Hills it’s a bit of a drive to Camarillo but I can tell you you won’t be disappointed. As far as outlet malls go this one is a beauty with some great brands and a decent place to shop. There’s everything from Kate Spade, Converse and Cotton On to BCBG Max Azria and Armani and Tori Burch.
Citadel outlets are just south of Downtown on the I5 and really convenient if you’re staying in Orange County (Disneyland or the beaches–there’s an Express Shuttle from select Anaheim Hotels) or LA.
The first time we went here we had a field day (and so does everyone else we bring). First stop for the Aussies Converse, Vans and Nike then you can branch out to H&M, American Eagle, Guess, Michael Kors, Banana Republic and Billabong. There are heaps of other shops too. If you’re out for bargains and have a big shopping list be prepared to take up most of your day.
It’s not bad people watching too just quietly–you get a better cross-section of LA than you do in Beverly Hills or West Hollywood.
LA doesn’t do mega malls like we have at home in Australia but Topanga is the exception to the rule. It’s not handy if you’re staying at the Beach but if you’re staying in Beverly Hills it’s pretty easy to get to. This mall is it has it all: Forever 21, Brandy Melville (not in very many Malls), Nordstrom, Macy’s, Neimen-Marcus, Henri Bendall, Bath & Body Works, Wet Seal–the list goes on. It’s a one-stop shop. Beware though you’ll need the day–there’s a lot to get through if you’re a thorough shopper, you might need to take advantage of its late-night trading.
I haven’t been a big fan of the Beverly Centre but I’m getting used to it. Like all the other malls it has good brands to choose from including New York’s Henri Bendel. It’s convenient and close to Melrose, Third Avenue and Beverly Connection across the road has Target and Nordstrom Rack if you don’t have time to hit the outlets but are looking for a bargain or two.
I just love Melrose Avenue. The best thing about it is keeps changing. It starts from being designer boutique paradise to vintage shopping paradise to grungier hipster shopping. There’s a lot to look at, great street art and great photo opps. Here’s a great site that details what’s on offer on Melrose. And while you’re there don’t forget to cover off Melrose Place. You might like to lunch at the Fig & Olive it’s great food & wine (and great olives and olive oil).
Robertson is another great street for people watching and high-end boutique shopping. Celebs and those in the know prefer to shop here than Rodeo Drive because it’s slightly less conspicuous. Having said that it’s where The Ivy is and there are tour buses that travel along this strip hoping to spot a celeb (I wonder if they ever do?! One time my son & I were coming out of The Ivy a tour bus came past and we waved to them, probably not the celebs they expected to see!)
Another great strip with groovy boutiques and great places to eat including the uber-popular star-spotting eatery Joan’s On Third.
You might notice I didn’t mention Rodeo Drive. It’s more of a sightseeing destination than a shopping destination–unless of course you have come with your Black Amex and are ready to do some damage. By all means head on down there and check it out. But if you’re that way try Beverly, just one street over. It has great shops and a little more kind to your credit card.
Universal Studios City Walk
If you’re really short on time there are actually a few good stops at Universal Studios City Walk. Of note are Abercrombie & Fitch and a huge Billabong shop. And there are a number of different restaurants to choose from if you’re exhausted from your long day there.
Getting around LA
It’s pretty hard to get around LA in anything other than a car. If you’re going to brave driving in LA drive fast and be decisive. Other than that here’s a post on driving in LA.
Have you heard of Uber? We love it and use it here all the time. Here’s a link to sign up (with a promo code for up to $30 off your first ride). Give it a go, you won’t regret it.