We figured that it was only a matter of time before Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson got around to Prada. The only question was, which one? Would it be the hushed, Madison Avenue multi-level location with its signature pistachio hued walls (otherwise known as the one that does all the business)? Perhaps she would take a shot at the busy Fifth Avenue location, or the flashy Soho showplace, the billboard for the brand.
Well, flashy SoHo won out, of course, in today's Thursday Styles. It hardly seems like nearly seven years have passed since Prada's "epicenter" store opened, and, apparently, it's looking a little worse for the wear:
Neither the corner nor the Koolhaas has improved since then. Outside, SoHo has devolved into a gritty stadium-crowd mall. The zebrawood paneling is beginning to get the scratchiti veneer of a grade-school desktop. Rugs are stained, corners are scuffed; the staff looks frazzled. The music is angular and nervous.
And La Cintra is in full "impress me" mode.
We have always said that no matter how wacked out a Prada show might look, once you get to the boutique there is always plenty of wearable, appealing merch. In this case, there is also an overly aggressive and underly perceptive salesperson to push it.
Knock, knock. “How’s it going?”
The door slid open. I loathe being barged in on while half dressed.
“We can alter that. Try this!” Zelda handed me a shirt I had rejected with her earlier.
She left the door open. Male sales assistants stomped by. I dug to find the items I wanted.
“Yes?” (Translation: “Come in! Bring a guest!”)
I stood in my camisole as Zelda exposed me to the seamstress: a small woman with a pin-filled tomato on her wrist.
“She’s leaving,” Zelda cried. “Can you come back tomorrow?”
“Yes. Could I get some clothes on, please?”
Zelda left the door wide open. A construction engineer in work boots walked by. I tried the lock again.
This article could be used as a case study in how to kill a sale that was practically dropped in your lap.
Knowing what we know about the three big Prada stores, it's not so terribly surprising that this happened in SoHo, however. Considering the neighborhood, this store tends to attract the tourists and some downtown regular customers, but the serious Prada-philes shop uptown, usually at the Madison Avenue store, and the downtown staff is both starved for serious customers and under pressure to make sales. This doesn't excuse the bad service that Cintra recieved, but it may give a frame of reference. Frankly, we don't particularly like browsing in the SoHo store, which is saying a lot because we will browse anywhere. For all it's open space, the lower level, where all the goods are, is cramped and tiny. It's a great display opportunity, but in terms of actual shopping pleasure, it has always left us pretty cold.
And, surely a greater offense, it left La Cintra without a purchase.
Critical Shopper: Prada - Better Angel, Out of the Dressing Room! by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Prada 575 Broadway at Prince Street, SoHo