I was feeling under the gun. My thirteen year old son needed a suit to wear to a semi-formal event. I had less than two weeks to get him suited up, and fashion and fitting aren’t my forte. I had hoped this could be a quick and painless experience, but somehow knew that would be a long-shot. The solution? I knew I had to opt for a full service menswear store.
Full Service: Looking Good
My on-line search returned several department store options, but who would help us get sized/fitted and help us make our selection? So I called the two popular menswear stores in my area and mentioned that my son was thirteen, has been growing like a weed, and that I could not purchase an expensive suit which may only be worn once or twice. They suggested putting my son in something “he could grow into, but would not look too great now.” This was an actual response from a rep! Unfortunately, that would not have met my main goal: to purchase a suit my son would look good in.
Quick Turnaround Required
My other main goal was that this needed to done and completed ASAP—time was something I was extremely short on due to recovering from a bunch of recent snow storms, power outages, cancelled appointments, etc. Oh, and it’s not fun dragging a thirteen year old teen out for clothes. I was so pressed for time and travelling a lot, that I called my assistant and asked him to help find me a viable option. He recommended a less popular full service store called Tate’s. They said they had boys’ suits and could accommodate us with tailoring. It would be about a thirty-five minute drive, farther than the popular stores, but I figured it was worth the shot.
Right-The First Time!
When we arrived we met the sales rep who I spoke with on the phone. I explained what we were looking for, and my concern with sizing and outgrowing the suit. He smiled, escorted us over to an area of the suit rack, and carefully picked out a gray suit. He explained that my son could wear a boy’s suit, but that he could grow into a 34S. As it turned out, the suit fit my son perfectly. The only required alteration was a hem, and they could do that while we waited! We looked at a couple of other suits, but none fit as perfectly as the first one. I was impressed that someone had the expertise to size so perfectly close the first time! Since the suit was a man’s size, the pants could later be adjusted to handle his rapid growth. And the price of the nice suit was a fair $120, marked down quite a bit.
Helpful Whittled Down Options
Next up was to size my son for a dress shirt, tie, and some dress shoes. Adam asked which color we preferred, and he selected a button down shirt, opened the package, and had my son try it on. It fit fine, and at the same time provided him some room at the neck—quite important for a teenage boy! Then the rep bought out 3 ties, and held each one in place so my son could make his selection in the mirror. We all agreed on the same tie, which made it a simple decision. The store’s inventory of smaller shoe sizes was depleted in the clearance section—but the rep showed us a couple pairs of nicer shoes, and offered a discount without me having to ask.
Job Completed Quickly—With Wife’s Approval!
So a half hour later, we left the store with a decent tailored suit, shirt, tie, reversible belt, and shoes. All of this in one trip—no muss or fuss or having to second guess our purchase. While I know I paid a bit more for the full service and the help, the time it saved us was well worth it. And the most important litmus test of all? My wife agrees that our son looks fantastic in his new suit!
So why did I take a few minutes to write about this experience? Once again a sales professional saved the day. We keep hearing how on-line purchasing is replacing sales reps, and just around the corner are 3D holograms where we get to try on “virtual” clothes to see how they fit. Too bad we can't feel or truly experience them them before buying! The point here is that human sales professionals are still revered, particularly when help or assistance is required in order to make an important purchase.
So the next time you are under the gun with a mandate from a customer or boss, it may be well-worth considering your options and the trade-offs between discount and full service pricing, time saved, and simply getting yourself the best long-term solution--the first time around.