Shopping While Black

Shopping While Black

 Phillip Anderson

 Nonfiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility, August 2019

 When walking into the room, the smell was uplifting the warm air made me feel comfortable. Just the smell of fresh fabric was enlightening to the environment. The salesman and woman were very nice and welcoming with smiles on their faces.

The layout and display of clothing was eye opening, the mannequins were very well styled which tells me the visual is creative. As I walk through the department store the music was relaxing. With nothing less than luxury brands surrounding me me me just want to shop.

As I get to the sportswear section to the far right back of the store, I noticed an army green silk Dries Van Nuton suit. My first thought was “I’m here for a client not myself.” Nuton happens to be my favorite sportswear designer.

As I’m admiring the silk luxury green fabric on the inexpensive suit (it was on sale) an young black sales man approaches with an very expensive Gucci suit in hand. He smiles and says, I have a better option in blue. Of course I checked it out, the only difference was the color and of course the price tag (Because it wasn’t an sale item)

Like most salesman who work off commission he’s trying to make me believe the suit he’s holding is better option because hes the person working in the high end store so hes right and of course to make more money for himself and the store today.

I went into a deep thought while still listening and being very polite…

“I’m a visionary, I see things others don’t in themselves. I’m very creative but quite, a really heavy thinker. I can listen to 12 conversations at once and still think through everything. I’m very well dressed also know what works for others, as far as clothing. Outrageously talented in seeing through people in their true colors a great observer. Most people think Im an easy target but I’m like a bullseye hard to hit home.”

This guy is trying his hardest. Very interesting piece I say to the well dressed salesman. The scent of his cologne was Satel 33 a very intruding and expensive smell. I simply thanked him for his opinion and moved on with my purchase.

While walking back to the front of the dimly lit store towards the register I noticed another mannequin with 3 amazing David Yurman bracelets, none of which on display for sale. I thought “Damn just the pieces I need to complete the look. Once I reached the register I noticed an older white guy standing about 6’3 dark hair blue eyes, wearing a navy colored suit white button up shirt with a red tie. His first words were…”How are you paying” with no emotion but a very stern look in his eyes. I thought hmmm, “No how are you”. “Did you find everything ok” or “Who helped you with your purchase” being that they do again work off of sales. I then realized he looked me up and down, I’m wearing a comfortable gray Nike tech sweat suit with blue and white Nike running shoes. I’m a little flamboyant with my mannerisms but not too much, just kind of in my shopping element but I’m almost sure he noticed I was Gay, and of course Black.

I went on to say I’m interested in your stores studio services.” Studio Services is a service most stores offer to creditable wardrobe stylist. He says this location doesn’t offer that service. Once I got that response I asked for the manager Chris which whom I work with all of the time who by all means know me very well and offered me these services on several locations and yes I’ve used.

My warm uplifting feeling all turned around now I’m feeling angry and very unhappy. After realizing I knew more than he thought, he started to try to explain he misunderstood what I was asking and he’ll be happy to help me. However at that point I figured I’ll deal with him later being I was pushing for time, I pulled out my card and ID, made my purchase and headed for the door.

What was supposed to be a very productive working day turned out to be very disappointing and stereotypical.

The following day I contacted Chris made him aware of my experience and he comped me my entire purchase. Moreover just because I didn’t lost my cool and act as expected I received a very expensive suit on the sake on me just keeping my cool. After being judged on who I am and what he thought I stood for, which I’m sure he thought was “NOTHING.”