Matt and Bob White of Hubert White on the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The firm has sold menswear to the more discerning since 1916. Highly knowledgeable, very pleasant sales staff in my experience.
I cannot recall the last time I have encountered a genuinely helpful retail salesperson (for a litany of reasons). It is rare to stumble across someone who is actually trained to assist rather than virtually untrained, knows his or her stock, or who does not attempt a hard sell. As the saying goes, you can't find good help anymore, and that has certainly applied to retail clothing stores for many years. Once in a while, however, there are places that stand out when it comes to true customer service. In late 2003 or early '04, not long after grad school and in my first teaching job at a small area college, which has since closed, I visited Hubert White (men's clothier) on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis for a couple of new neckties and some other accessories to expand my wardrobe a bit.
In the store, after browsing the wares for a good long while, I was assisted by a much older gentleman (Late 60s or possibly in his 70s. A member of the White family perhaps?), who embodied 'ideal' sales help: not pushy, not obsequious, actually exhibited tasteful restraint, knew what he was talking about, and left me alone until I sought help. Oh, and he was genuinely interesting to talk to. I actually stuck around for about 15 minutes, talking classic menswear with him, after he rang up my purchases and placed them in a bag.
I'm sure the man in questions is long retired at this point. Anyway, based on that initial interaction, I returned to Hubert White a few more times for other items before leaving Minnesota in late 2004. The establishment stood in stark contrast to the local outlet of Men's Warehouse across and up the street a block or two. I ventured in once, looked around quickly, and never returned based on the poor quality merchandise displayed and the totally clueless sales help. About the level of expertise, for clothing or anything else besides computer games, that you might find in one of the few remaining DVD rental stores.
Likewise, compare the very favorable shopping experiences I describe at Hubert White with a more recent trip to purchase some new white undershirts at our local mall just outside East Lansing, Michigan in September 2018. When did shopping malls and even their more expensive anchor stores become so unpleasant? Jeeze Louise! I eventually found the Stafford crew neck undershirts I prefer after digging for them through a shelf piled high with mismatched brands and sizes (really). No thanks to the few sullen sales staff I approached.
If they weren't cognitively challenged, the senses of the two or three different sales "associates" I spoke to were certainly dulled by either recreational drug use, or the booming, hip-hop inflected music that bombards the senses in retail establishments just about everywhere in the U.S. No, being assertive enough to say that does not automatically mean I'm somehow a racist. The unavoidable genre simply neither speaks, nor appeals to me. Save all of that barely contained rage and righteous indignation for more important things.
Returning to my car outside, I vowed to purchase all attire and accessories online in future and forever after -- I know my measurements and have a physique that's still relatively easy to fit -- unless I ever have a suit made bespoke and must venture in for fittings. Otherwise, my tailor can make any minor alterations to jacket sleeves, bodies, and trouser inseams.
Parenthetically, the constant hovering of wait staff in many eateries in the U.S. is obnoxious in the extreme. I realize it's the way so many corporate chains train their staff now, and the practice has bled over into some independent restaurants, but I don't want to be friends, so skip the long-winded, canned introduction when you finally show up to take our order. Don't tell me, "I'll be taking care of you this evening." No, thank you. I don't want my water glass refilled again after two sips (I once had a waiter argue with me when I quietly put my hand over the glass as he approached for yet another refill). Just serve the meal when it's ready, check once that everything is to our liking, and go away. No, I don't need more bread or rolls with which to scrub my plate clean, thanks. Yes, I know what a French press is. You don't need to explain. I use one daily. Oh, and don't argue with me in a passive-aggressive way when I decline a doggie bag for the few remaining scraps of food on the side of my plate.