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Friday, September 5, 2014

Venturing Outside Your Demographic: In CDG Airport

I have to confess that I sometimes feel ill at ease when I am out of my demographic. 

As my readers no doubt know, I have been pining for an Hermes scarf for a few years. Since I intend to buy only one, and the choices--both new and used- are immense, I have had a hard time choosing. When I was in Paris and Brussels last summer, I did not venture into any stores. I was mostly content with window shopping. I did wander into a perfume store and when the salesperson, in a totally normal French way, asked me if she could help, my French, which I had upgraded via Duolingo practice, instantly evaporated and I fled to Mr FS, waiting on the sidewalk (he hates stores).

Mr FS and I had a 5 hour wait in CDG Airport in Paris. The international section has a spate of luxe stores which are so crowded with shoppers that one really doesn't feel uncomfortable as a browser. I wandered into the Hermes shop to look at the scarves. There was another browser peering into the case with me. The single employee was busy with a chic couple who were--I think--speaking Japanese. The woman was wearing a black and white tweed Chanel jacket, a gorgeous coordinating scarf; she carried an alligator Hermes bag. The effect was totally elegant. Still, she was wearing stuff that cost more than I make in a year. She and her husband, who also wore understated and very elegant clothing, though none identifiable by me, left with several giant bags of new purchases.

This time I didn't flee, but all I could think was: this is not my demographic. Why am I here? Having had a glimpse of beauty, I wandered out and sprayed on some perfume at another shop. I returned to the waiting area and let Mr FS have his turn at a walk. 

Just wondering: do you enjoy venturing outside your demographic? Are you attracted by such shops or uncomfortable? (Image from Retail Design Blog)

Charles de Gaulle airport shopping center WCIE 04 Charles de Gaulle airport shopping center by W&CIE, Paris


Janice Riggs said...

I can become uncomfortable with it, but I just remind myself that "even a cat can look at a king", and that I am as much entitled to a scarf as another woman is entitled to an alligator handbag. It is challenging, though, I will admit!
warmest regards,

SewingLibrarian said...

I used to feel like that, but I've found the sales people in Hermes to be uniformly helpful. And that's true in other high-end stores, too. I'm speaking of American stores, as I haven't been abroad in many years.

Shelley said...

I wonder if this is the same feeling as 'knowing your place'? I can't say I've gone in any really exclusive stores lately. Instead I went to a grocery store - the closest one to our airport hotel - in an Hispanic area yesterday and marveled at the odd foods I saw on display. As an international traveler (we are in OKC just now) I assumed I was wealthier than most of the other people in the store but that doesn't make me more important and I hope I would always be courteous. If anyone in the high-end stores was rude to you it would mean they have no class, just money. Since you like travel maybe you should think of it as going to 'the land of the rich' instead of thinking of it as intruded on people who are somehow 'better' than you. Hermes will be just as happy to take your money as that of anyone I'm sure!

Gam Kau said...

I think as a result of an unusual upbringing, I am comfortable in a broad demographic.
Of course, my favourite shopping arena is a good charity shop. Veblen goods aren't really my thing. :)

Frugal Scholar said...

@All--I'm not really uncomfortable with the salespeople. I was just wondering what I was doing there--I felt some cognitive dissonance.

Gam Kau said...

Ha! My entire life is cognitive dissonance!

Duchesse said...

That extraordinarily dressed woman was the exception. But the selection is small at the CDG Hèrmes; why not visit one of the stores in Paris? (You can still claim your VAT refund.)

I would not class an Hèrmes scarf as a "Veblen item"; they last practically forever with decent care. (I'm wearing one 27 yrs old.) Designating them as such discounts the workmanship in the design and production.

Anonymous said...

I have never bought a luxury item of any kind. I'm not opposed, but I haven't identified anything I "must have." Some day I would like a Movado watch because I like the design. So far I have got more pleasure from buying unique items at thrift/antique stores. I suppose my real idea of luxury is being able to buy original art, and that can be found at all price points.