Friday, February 5, 2010

Not what I expected...

First I have to say it's good to be back on line. My computer curled in to fetal position and gave out on me a couple weeks ago. Thanks to Sara for keeping us up and running. I finally bit the bullet and switched to a Mac, which presents its own set of challenges but so far, so good. Anyway, I hope it will be a long time before I have to resuscitate this guy. Now where was I before my old computer died? Oh yeah! Loving life in The Heights!

Unfortunately, this post is going to be something of a non-post (to start, the pictures for it are on my old computer). I had, for the 1st time, a disappointing experience visiting a local Heights business. Bummer.

Part of what I really enjoy about writing this blog is how it forces me to explore- to actually make those stops at places I have walked or driven by 1000 times and never gone in. Ja-Vi Boutique on Yale is one of those places I drive by all the time and always wondered about. It made it to my list of "Places to explore for the blog" and 2 weeks ago I actually made it my destination. I always thought they probably had Mexican imports. This was loosely based on the sign and the rustic furniture shop in the back. I thought rustic Mexican pottery and maybe some silver, plus furniture and gift items. Clothes would probably be guayaberas and pretty embroidered dresses. I expected knock offs, too. I also expected to be greeted with that typical Heights friendliness and the kind of customer service I always claim you can only really get at a local shop.

Well, it was not at all what I expected. Let's start with service: as I walked in, camera and mini-cards in hand, the woman manning the store was sitting at the front desk on the phone. I wish I knew if she was the owner, manager or just an employee but I never got a chance to find out. You see, she was on the phone. When I opened the door, she looked at me and then got right back to her conversation. Didn't even bother to cover the mouth piece of the phone and give me a "let me know if you have questions" type whisper. I meandered around the front room for a while as she told the person on the other end "well, I don't think he would say that if he knew...." and "you should tell him you want [this and that]..." I looked in her direction a couple times but she didn't seem to care what I was there for- shopping or otherwise.

I walked in to the adjoining rooms, perusing the goods. I must have been in the store for a good 15-20 minutes and she never paused her phone conversation. Is it wrong that I sort of expected a "Hey, I have a customer. I'll call you back"? No such luck. I broke out the camera and snapped some merchandise photos. I'm a #shoplocal optimist, after all.

Finally, there was nothing more to see or do. I walked, intentionally slowly, to the front door and exited. Not even a "Thanks for stopping in" or "have a good day."

So, that was a big, fat fail. The store itself was not at all what I expected either. As far as merchandise, not Mexico. More like the standard imports from India and China. Knocks offs. There was some baby stuff, lots of jeans around the $65 range, tons of costume jewelry and big, pleather handbags with stuff dangling off of them. A couple of random bathing suits, 'spa' stuff, soap and candles, and some shoes. A couple pairs of shoes were nice looking- real leather, stylish. I don't know how much they were. By the time I found them, I was over it and on my way out. 15 minutes had gone by. The phone conversation continued "When did they find out? Did they take the car? Blah blah blah"

Then, weirdness. As I was backing out of my parking spot to turn south on Yale, I see a bright orange head coming my way. It was the owner, manager, worker bee, whoever. No, she wasn't talking on the phone anymore (I only had to leave for that to stop) but sho'nuff she had that cordless phone in her hand. She walked across the parking lot and it was obvious she was coming for me. I had already backed out so she was on the passenger side of the car. I rolled down the window, ever optimistic that she was going to apologize and see what she could help me with.

Again, what I expected to happen couldn't have been farther from the reality. I rolled down the window and she asked me, no greeting of any kind, "Did you have to take pictures for The Leader?" Huh? "No," I said and fished for one of my cards. "So, you weren't taking pictures for The Leader?" I handed a card, she looked nonplussed. I introduced myself and said "I write a blog about The Heights, actually, and one of the things I focus on is small businesses in the neighborhood." "Oh, well," she waived her hand with the phone in it "we're in The Leader and that other 002 magazine." "Oh, ok..." and before I could say anything else, she was shuffling back toward the store.

So, yeah. Nothing about my trip to Ja Vi was what I wanted or expected it to be. Oh well. Luckily the Heights has no shortage of great places to explore and great people to meet.


  1. I had a similar (negative) experience there, as well as at the salon, Cosa Bella, next door, owned by the same family. The salon (hairdressers, facialist) is ALWAYS running late, and I felt totally unwelcomed there, so I stopped going. And going into Ja Vi wasn't the fun, interesting place I thought it was going to be. Agree there are much better shops to frequent in the Heights!

  2. Welcome back, Viula! We missed you around these parts...

  3. A 1,000 word tear-down of a local business? When did this become the Catty Blog? You're so much better than that.

  4. Wow, I didn't feel this was a tear down in any way. Rather a fair review of the experience. She describe the items in the store making me sit on the fence about whether I still wanted to go in. In supporting our local businesses we must be honest and expect them to step up to the plate or what is the point? Good job

  5. Suzy,

    I'm sorry you felt this post was catty. I'm even more sorry that there is a local business who doesn't seem to care about its customers. I don't think my responsibility is to sugar coat everything and say good things when the experience was less than satisfying. I think my job is to be honest.

    The story about was my experience at the business; an experience which will prevent me from going back. I have had such great visits in so many Heights businesses, many I haven't even had an opportunity to write about yet. Why should I promote a store with no customer service, no caring or attention at all and then a complete dismissal, when there are so many places in the Heights that appreciate and value every.single.person who walks through the door?

    Please, take the story for what it is. It's not catty. It's honest. If you have had a different experience, a more positive one, then please share it with everyone. I would be very happy to hear that my visit was an anomaly but based on other comments, I fear that is not the case.

    As always, we do very much appreciate your readership and comments.


  6. I had an almost identical experience in this store! I had always wanted to pop in because they had those great looking pieces of art hanging from the patio. When I opened the door there was a woman at the counter sitting down talkiing to another woman. She did not even bother to say hello to me the enitre 15 minutes I was in the store.

    I also dont think that your blog was a tear down at all, it was an honest opinion of your trip to the store. I won't be back either.

  7. Lori in North NorhillFebruary 9, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    While I can't comment on Ja-Vi, never having visited, I do highly recommend Myra at Cosa Bella. Myra has been doing my monthly facials and eyebrow waxing for over a year now. She's never been late, always been pleasant and wonderful to talk with. The facials and waxing are relaxing and soothing and I've never looked or felt better. Additionally, unbeknownst to me, when once I had to reschedule, Myra came in on a Monday and opened the salon solely for my appointment. You can't beat that kind of customer service.

    As I said, I don't know who works next door and whether that's SOP or just someone having a bad day but I hope y'all will give Myra and the salon a chance. I'm positive that your experience will be as wonderful as mine always is.

  8. Pleased (and surprised) to know someone has had a positive experience with Myra. I stopped going to her when she was never on time for any of my appointments! Anyway, I know I'm a little off subject here...

  9. I'm surprised by these comments about Ja Vie, as I've always had very positive experiences there! I buy my cowgirl hats there, gifts, shoes. I love the red head, she is delightful and we've chatted about everything under the sun when I have been in there, and she always helps me find what I need. It's too bad she was on the phone while a customer was in there, she should be told about this blog and how local shoppers perceive her. We need to support local businesses and let them know how they can better serve us.