Charleston now has a Forever 21 on King St. This bugs me a lot. They put it where there used to be a Saks, and I think the trade significantly influenced the overall feel of downtown shopping. I felt the same way when they put in a Rack Room Shoes where the Banana Republic used to be. It's just... tacky. King St is not cheap tacky, it's rich tacky. Like Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer.
Now, I don't shop at these places. That's not why it bugs me. I barely shop at all. The most I ever do is gaze into the windows at perfectly dressed mannequins and wish I had more money to throw around. Sometimes I walk in and check the clearance racks while trying to avoid the attention of the people working in the store. And still more frequently, I simply walk past each store and think about which character from Arrested Development the clothes would most suit. GOB. Lindsey. Lucille. George Michael.
When Forever 21 opened they had a free gift card promotion, so it was impossible to get into the first week. But when I finally let myself wander in there (cheap clothes! even if they do tend to fall apart and have a horrible return policy) I was astounded. It is at least THREE times bigger than the one at the mall near my house. There is a section for about five or six different "looks" including what appears to be "Americana," hobo-chic, "nautical," and neon spray paint. They have a men's section and a kids section. They have enough shoes to shoe an army of overlarge centipedes. It is, in a word, overwhelming.
The first time I went was simply a reconnaissance mission. I wandered around for a bit and left. The check out line was at least 50 people long. I wish I were exaggerating.
On Friday my mitten-quotes professor had too many technical difficulties trying to get the projector to work, so he let us out of class early. About 40 minutes early.
I decided to take a walk on this beautiful Friday morning, and found myself down at Forever 21. I puttered around for a bit, looking and touching and trying and pricing. I remembered hearing someone tell me that all these clothes are cheap because they are made by poor little children in cramped sweat shops, and I looked at the items in my hands and thought I can't buy these, that would be awful. Then I remembered what Kala told me after I talked to her about the sweat shop kids (awesome band name? or too evil?): "Maybe if you buy more of the clothes, they can pay the kids more money!"
So on that faulty logic, I left having purchased a new shirt and some cute slip-on shoes.
Later that day, while wearing my new cuteness, I got whistled at by some douchey-looking guys at Andolini's. I didn't know whether to be flattered, creeped out or indignant. It's just something that happens when you put a pizza place next to the school gym/weight room: the guys get hungry after a workout and surge with "I-can-conquer-the-world" endorphins/adrenaline and "Oh-look-at-that-chick" testosterone. It was really funny to hear them try to whistle as I walked past. It came out more like whewpppthhpoooppthh.
Question to the male species: Why do you do this? Do you expect me to hear the whistle, turn around, and say "Oh, that was for me? Thank you. You look cute as well. Let's date. May I sit on your lap while you hang out with your equally repugnant male friends? You sure do know how to get a lady."