Saturday, October 7, 2017


So after all the hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and threatened volcano eruptions, Las Vegas happened. Fifty-eight people dead and 500 injured. I want to cry.

Instead, I am taking a break to regain my normal equanimity by relating my latest experience with my favorite department store: Belk's.

A week or so ago, a relative found a great shirt in Belk's but couldn't buy it. Her birthday is coming up,so I went back later. As I was paying, the salesclerk asked, "Do you know you can purchase a second one at half price?" Upselling of course, but done in a friendly, no-pressure way. Just one woman imparting information to another.

As I thought about it, she went on: "Of course, if you want to come back Thursday, you can get 20% off your purchases for our Girls Night Out specials."

"Really!" But I'd got the last shirt in a small size. "I'm afraid if I wait, the shirt won't be here when I come back."

"That's true. Well, you can pre-purchase it today and pick it up Thursday."

I ended up pre-purchasing it and another for half-price, both costing a few dollars more than the original shirt. The last thing the clerk, holding up my bagged up shirts, said as I left: "I'm going to send this upstairs right away so it'll be sure to be there for you to pick up Thursday."

I went on Thursday to pick up my package. Another lady in line on the same errand made conversation as we waited. We agreed about how nice Belk's people were, always looking to save us money.

A pleasant male clerk took both our tickets, came back with the other customer's purchase. "I didn't see yours, but I'm going back to check again," he trilled.

Two other ladies came up. A female clerk took their tickets, came back out with their purchases. The male clerk conferred with her, then apologized to me for not finding mine. Both went back to look again.

Finally, they came out and the female clerk admitted they couldn't find it and apologized profusely "I don't know what happened. If you want to come downstairs with me, we'll check the register where you bought it. Maybe the associate got busy and put it aside and forgot."

I didn't think so, but we took the escalator down and looked all around the register where I'd made my purchase. The female clerk even went into the back room there but came out with nothing.

In the meantime, I'd looked at the shirt rack and sure enough. No small size in the one I'd come for, but the half-price one did have another small.

"Oh, is that the section?" The clerk brightened. "We have more upstairs. Let's just go back and see if we can find your size up there. Bring that one with you and if we can find a small in the other, you can just take them."

Nope. No small. After much agonizing, I got a medium. So I have a medium and a small shirt for my relative. But...

As I handed her the medium, the sales clerk said, "To make this up to you, I'm going to refund what you paid and charge you only..."

And it was such a ridiculously low price she mentioned, my eyes popped.

I protested but she insisted. She also took my phone number and name, saying that if my pre-purchase package turned up, she'd call and I could come swap the medium for the small.

The mix-up was annoying but the clerk more than made up for it. Now I'm going to have to give money to my relative to make up for what I didn't spend on her shirts!

There is some hope for our country when people present us with empathy and fairness and simple courtesy. I do love Belk's. That experience inspires me to go and be pleasant to everyone.

The first Belk in Monroe, North Carolina (called New York Racket). 1902.


  1. I know I sound like a commercial, but I really am fond of this store. I've only met a few salespeople in any of their branches who are not helpful. And I've been in quite a few branches!


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