Reservations For In-Store Apple Watch Purchasing Start Today

ApplewatchbagConcluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.

Apple opens up US Watch retail reservations, shoppers get unique bags (AppleInsider)


Will Rojas Is Your Shop Clerk
At Little Willy's

Littlewilly120611_250New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" feature made its monthly appearance this week with a spotlight on Little Willy's, the junior division of custom tailor Lord Willy's in NoLiTa.

This, of course, brings up the universal question of whether custom tailoring for the not-yet-fully-grown is overkill. Okay, not really universal. In fact the store serves to remind us all that here in New York City, there's always somebody who will be willing to take advantage of the opportunity to overspend on your children's clothes, even if they don't much care where their polo shirts came from. Okay, we shouldn't say that. After all, when The Shophound was a wee tot, we cared deeply about the provenance of all our clothes, and it's probably just as well that if there was such a thing as Little Willy's then, we didn't know about it since it was all we could do to get our little self outfitted in Lacoste and Polo.

But back to the clerk, young Will Rojas, who is thankfully spared the indignity of modeling the store's wares himself in favor of grown-up outfits from the father ship next door. As for the potential tedium of toiling in a shop devoted solely to dressing affluent pre-gentlemen,

Q- How do you make shopping fun for boys?
A- We have books that make farting noises. So sometimes our posh British store is overrun with silly sounds.

So, fart books and $125 boy's shirts all in the same place.
Is New York marvelous or what?

Ask A Shop Clerk: Will Rojas (NYMag)
Little Willy’s, 223 Mott Street, near Prince Street, NoLiTa


Coco-Mat's Rosemary Charou
Will Sell You A Good Night's Sleep

Cocomat120419_250New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" feature seems to be increasing in frequency. Recently, SoHo's Coco-Mat is in the spotlight, which only reminded The Shophound of the last time "Ask A Shop Clerk" interrogated a mattress seller. It's been a while, so we don't know whether Hästens' Ryan Stepka is still hawking pricey mattresses, but he's old news now. SoHo's top mattress seller is now Rosemary Charou, who will send you to sleep on one of Coco-Mat's not-at-all inexpensive all natural beds. Rosemary is not nearly as personally forthcoming as her erstwhile predecessor. In fact she's all business and product knowledge, so we don't learn much about her at all. We do learn that her mattresses are all natural and metal free, meaning no springs and only natural rubber, coconut fiber, real seaweed, horsehair, and wool and other natural materials are used in the products. Sounds nice. How does $1,660 sound as an opening price point? There are some extra added selling points:

NY Mag: What makes that better than a regular mattress?
Rosemary: Rubber is one of the most hypoallergenic materials in nature—except for those allergic to latex, of course. And because these have organic cotton and wool covers, you won’t get dust mites.

NYM: What about bedbugs?
R: That’s the great thing: Natural rubber is inhospitable to bedbugs. They don’t like the smell.

If you can repel bedbugs, you can probably sell those beds for whatever you want in New York City.

Ask a Shop Clerk: Rosemary Charou (NYMagazine)
Coco-Mat 49 Mercer Street near Broome Street, SoHo
Employee Of The Week: Ryan Stepka at Hästens (10/30/2006)


Flora Shepelsky Is The Wig Queen Of The Upper East Side

Designbyflora120409_250There's no "Critical Shopper" column this week in the Thursday Styles, so The Shophound went hunting for one of our other favorite shopping related columns, and found a new installment of New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" feature. Now monthly instead of weekly, the column, which should really be called "Ask A Shop Owner" these days, is currently featuring Ms. Flora Shepelskly of Design by Flora (at right). While it sounds like it could be a store for anything, this is actually a wig store, and by that we do not mean some tacky, stack-'em-high-sell-'em-cheap outfit like you might find on 14th Street. No, Ms. Shepelsky appears to be a deluxe, high end perruquière whose wares range from $1,850 to $10,000. She carries 500 wigs in her shop with another 1,200 in her New Jersey showroom and another 1,200 in the basement. With nearly 3,000 wigs to choose from, what's the most popular color? Russet red? Honey blonde? Nope. Mousy brown, Who knew?

New York asked her about changing attitudes toward wig wearing, and she had this observation to share

NYMag: Why is fake hair still taboo?
Flora: Years of bad wigs have given it a bad rap. It’s sad that fake teeth and fake boobs are okay, but if a woman puts on fake hair, she feels ashamed. My mission is to show people that a hairpiece is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Time was when a stylish wig-wearing woman would rather die than admit she had to wear fake hair, but now, in the era of Wendy Williams, Sherri Shepherd and, hell, the enduring RuPaul, we seem to have entered a new age of Wig Pride in which, for some women, the question isn't whether or not your hair is fake, but how good of a fake is it?

There's at least one thing The Shophound and Flora Shepelsky agree on with no reservations. Toupeés are always bad. She will happily outfit a cross-dresser (as she refers to the transgendered, or any other gentlemen who choose to dress like ladies), but has no time for men who want to hide their natural hair loss. "My husband is balding, and I make him shave his head," she says. As she should.

Ask a Shop Clerk: Flora Shepelsky (NYMag)
Design by Flora 243 East 78th Street between Second & Third Avenues, Upper East Side


The Shop Clerk Lives
With A Love Match Between
Joinery & Hickoree's Hard Goods


A while back, when The Shophound arrived on the interwebs, New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" was a weekly feature that we always looked forward to covering, and occasionally skewering, but then one day it sort of faded away, occasionally popping up for a teasing reappearance. In the past few months, however, it seems to have become something of a monthly feature, and this week, in anticipation of Valentine's Day, it features a love match made in hipster heaven —that's Williamsburg ..duh.

Emil Corsillo of Hickoree's Hard Goods and Angela Silva of Joinery, two of the neighborhood's more prominent recent retail additions, are apparently a couple, which is obviously adorable. As their interview covered tha typical "tow shopkeepers in love" ground, up came the inevitable question: Do you think of your stores as “hipster”?

Both retailers demurred to committing to the term, which has become almost as annoying as "yuppie", especially to those who are likely to fall into the category. The next question, however settled the matter pretty well.

NYMag: What’s your favorite item in stock right now?
Angela: Shoulder bags made out of Brazilian feed sacks. But I get the most compliments on useful stuff, like a toilet brush with a wooden handle.
Emil: Splatter-painted mugs and bowls.

Yep. You two are hipsters. No question about it. Own it!

Ask a Shop Clerk, Couples Edition: Angela Silva and Emil Corsillo (NYMag)
Joinery, 263 South 1st Street near Havemeyer St
Hickoree’s Hard Goods Floor Two, 109 South 6th Street near Bedford Avenue, second floor, both in Williamsburg

Employee Of The Week:

The Shop Clerk Returns!
Meet Veronica Leslie,
Macy's Longest Standing Employee...Literally

Shopclerk081117_250New York Magazine has quietly resurrected one of our favorite features: Ask A Shop Clerk.
Once a weekly treat, the shop clerk slowed down to a monthly, and then disappeared altogether for a while, but has been popping up here and there over the past few months.
This week, our heart goes out to Ms. Veronica Leslie who has been working at Macy's since 1960 when she was paid forty-six dollars a week at the Flatbush branch for what was supposed to be a temporary position. That's since before The Shophound was born (and by that we mean the person, not the blog).
God bless her, she's still standing, and we hope they treat her like a queen because she surely deserves it for all those decades on her feet.
Now in the Coat Department at Herald Square, Ms. Leslie has absorbed the expertise of a pro:

Any plans to retire?
I’m thinking about it. I’ll reach my 50th anniversary in two more years. By that time, the younger generation will be able to take over for me, keeping in mind what I’ve taught them.
Like what?
You have to know how to ask the customer to try on another size. Sometimes someone thinks she’s a size 10 but really she’s a 12. Younger people like to wear their coats so tight now, but if you get on a bus and have to reach for the rail, you’re in trouble—your sleeves will burst.

Truly, there's nobody we would rather buy a coat from in Macy's than Ms. Leslie. Frankly, there's probably nobody else we would rather buy anything from in Macy's.
We do think it's rather optimistic of her to think that in only a couple of years, the younger generation of Macy's staff will finally be ready to take over for her. If they haven't learned her lessons by now (and we're pretty sure they haven't) they probably never will.
We strongly suggest that Macy's try to hang on to her at all costs, but we doubt they will. Ms. Leslie informs us that the store is celebrating its big 150th anniversary by treating the staff to cupcakes.
150th anniversary.
Ask A Shop Clerk: Veronica Leslie of Macy's (NYMag)

Mike Albo Goes Shopping: '90s Nostalgia Editon

In Today's Thursday Styles, this week's Critical Shopper, Mike Albo visits Den, currently featuring Tim Hamilton's collection, and offers an opportunity to reflect on just how much the East Village has changed.

SOMETIMES when I walk through the East Village, I feel a gust of nostalgia for 1993, when I first moved to New York and lived with my artsy friend Jill in a two-bedroom on 12th Street. It was a carefree, de-gorgeous era, when I often wore girl’s-size thermals printed with snowflakes or flowers and $3 thrift store bell-bottoms. I even knotted my hair in Björk buns.

This brings to mind an alarming image, unless, of course, you lived in New York in the early 1990s. Back then, the East Village was cheap, charming and a reliable freak show every day. The neighborhood's fashion icons were Deee-lite's Lady Miss Kier and RuPaul who were both just becoming stars. Patricia Field was a local cult retailer and Avenue B was more known for junkies than chi-chi restaurants. People wore wild costumes to nightclubs and to the supermarket. Mike's outfit wouldn't have gotten a second glance from your typical New Yorker. It was a far cry from the gentrified neighborhood it has become today. Opening a designer store like Den or its parent next door, Odin in the East Village would have been a laughable concept. How things have changed. Albo is alarmed by Hamilton's prices (not entirely without good reason) but he does neglect to mention that the label Den debuted with, Cheap Monday is, in fact, much more affordable, so Den is not necessarily tied to expensive luxury vendors.
Shopclerk071119_198 As for the rest of the article, we felt we had been there, and we had, a couple of weeks ago.
Since we're on the topic of our regular media items, we might as well mention that New York Magazine found another Shop Clerk this week, though they have become so few and far between that they are easy to miss. Brandy Cusamano labors at Space NK in SoHo, and if you were expecting to find some insight into what it's like to tend to customers' faces on a daily basis, you will, as we were, be disappointed to find a list of products instead. Brandy's opinions and personality remain frustratingly hidden, and we hope that one of our favorite "Strategist" features escapes from the product placement trap in which it appears to have been caught.
Critical Shopper: Come Out of Your Cave and Get Used to the Price by Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Ask A Shop Clerk: Brandy Cusamano of Space NK (New York)

Employee of the Week: Duane Harriot at Other Music

Shopclerk071022_198We had been ignoring the "Ask A Shop Clerk" feature in New York Magazine lately because for the last few months, when they did appear, the interviews felt sort of dry and P.R. driven. This week marks a return to form with Duane Harriot of Other Music, once the loyal opposition to the commercial leviathan Tower Records across the street, now an island of indie recorded music that thankfully appears to be surviving the internet threat that is ruthlessly reshaping the music industry in general. Duane manages to debunk the store's image as a bastion of evil music snobbery,

Is there truth behind the store’s conceited-music-geek reputation?
Everyone thinks we’re from the High Fidelity school of indie-clerk asshole. But no one here is a curmudgeon jerk that jeers at customers.

but still manages to emphasize that the staff does have standards,

Why don’t boyfriends make mix tapes anymore?
You’re not meeting the right guys. When you meet someone, just beg or force him to make you a mix. If he puts Toby Keith on there, you’ll immediately know that you’re going to go wrong.

Rock on Duane!
Ask A Shop Clerk: Duane Harriott (NYMag)
Other Music 15 E. 4th St. between Broadway & Lafayette Street, NoHo

Employee of the Week: Lata Chettri-Kennedy at Flower Power Herbs & Roots

Photo by Brad Paris for New York Magazine
New York Magazine finally gets inspired this week and instead of interviewing your typical shopgirl, finds an ordained green witch.
We're not sure exactly how she differs from a black or white witch, but Lata Chettri-Kennedy doesn't seem like the type to turn an unruly customer into a frog. Apparently, Flower Power Herbs & Roots has appeal beyond the Wiccan set, and let's face it, who wouldn't turn down a nice, natural herbal remedy if it were available.

Q What ailments do New Yorkers want to heal?
A Stress, insomnia, heartbreak, sexual impotence, weight gain, hangovers.

Q And what do they take?
A For stress, there’s vibrational therapy using flower essence. If it’s a mother-related issue, I’d give them mariposa lily. For heartbreak: bleeding- heart flower-essence therapy. Impotent men take oat seed, which is very effective. We also sell a love potion, an aphrodisiac blend … It’s potent.

Lata seems to be a serious herbalist as opposed to a Janie-come-lately Harry Potter fan, and while our doctor might scoff, we say, if it works, it works.

Ask a Shop Clerk: Lata Chettri-Kennedy (NYMag)
Flower Power Herbs & Roots 406 E. 9th Street near Avenue A, East Village

Employee of the Week: Elizabeth Doyle at Doyle & Doyle

Shopclerk070730_198At this point, we should really just call it "Employee of the Month", and as we have seen before, Elizabeth Doyle current star of New York Magazine's Ask A Shop Clerk column, is clearly boss, not clerk.
Having established that, this week's edition is a little on the dry and service-ey side. Wasn't the point of asking the clerk to get some inside story, or even a little dirt? Elizabeth Doyle is obviously (and perfectly understandably) interested in promoting Doyle & Doyle, her Orchard Street store, and proceeds to dispense antique jewelry shopping advice, and little else.
Useful, yes, but not particularly colorful.
Ask A Shop Clerk has become the neglected stepchild of the Strategist section at the back of the book. We even forgot to check to see of it was running at all this week. Here's hoping interviewer Denise Penny finds a way to liven things up in the future, or maybe they should just let the column die already.
Nice picture, though.
Ask A Shop Clerk: Elizabeth Doyle of Doyle & Doyle (NYMag)
Doyle & Doyle 189 Orchard Street, Lower East Side