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Shopping Expeditions: Plus Size Wasteland

As everyone knows, Southern California is the home to the original Cult of the Body.   It’s not the most comfortable place in the world to carry a few extra pounds, but this is nowhere more obvious than when you hit the mall.

Just because SoCal is a fit area of the country doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of plus-size ladies here – a good third of my clientele has needed plus-size resources.  And the pity of it all is… there’s just not that much choice.  And this is ridiculous.   I know the difficulties inherent in expanding your size range past 14 (the bits that get bigger differ from woman to woman, more fabric cost, etc) but the potential profit to be made is huge.

I’ll join my voice to the chorus – RETAILERS!  GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!

When I want to take a 16+ size person shopping, I have the following options:

  • Target (has a decent size plus department, with some good style options)
  • Wal-Mart (let’s get real, I’m not going to take someone shopping at Wal-Mart – but they do have plus-size basics)
  • Department stores, various (options vary, as do prices.  Style likewise variable).
  • Plus-size specialty stores (Lane Bryant, Torrid, Curve Couture, Avenue, Catherines)

You’re lucky to have as many as three of these in one location – the stand-alone stores really “stand-alone” and are miles away from one another.   (There are fewer than 25 stand-alone stores total, including different branches of the same chain, in a county of 3 million). I treat all my clients to the best experience possible, regardless of size – I’ve scouted the stores before our trip so I know what should be there, and I have a good idea of the vibe of the store so that I can match it to the vibe of the customer – and her pocketbook.    But this isn’t making my life any easier.

I’d like to say the department stores have gotten a clue and given some serious space for plus-size ladies, but I’d be lying.  The plus-size departments are seldom as large as the coat department.    This isn’t 1980, folks – in 2018 67% of women in the United States are in a size 12 or larger.  Maybe more choice might be in order?

I’m a PROFESSIONAL.  If I find it frustrating, how do my clients feel when they’re shopping by themselves?  Ugh.  Do my plus-size clients, who have more fitting issues than a standard-size client, want to do the bulk of their shopping online?  Not usually!  (Although the online retailers are eager to get the business the brick-and-mortar shops are missing out on).

And we wonder why women won’t dress themselves for the size they’re at, letting things get worn and accepting less-than-the-best.  We’re certainly treating them like that’s all they deserve, why are we surprised?

Well, fussing won’t fix the problem – if retailers want to let good income potential wash through their fingers, it’s their folly and not mine.  What can I do?  I can tell my plus-size customers the honest truth – that we’re going to have to plan a bit more time and effort to get their pretties, but that it can be done.   The same steps (research, scout, make a shopping list, organize) will get us to our destination, sanity relatively intact.

We can do this!

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