+ What was the last purchase you were excited about, and why?
I am an absolute sucker for a great pair of sneakers and I recently bought myself a second pair of Nike shoes (in the same style that I already have, but a different colour). They’re like walking on a cloud and I can’t stop raving about them! I think it’s so important to have shoes that give you great support all day. Getting them on sale was a bonus as well.
+ Can you tell me about a retail experience you’ve had that was exciting or interesting?
I walked past an Autograph store in Sylvia Park and spied my dream winter coat, so had to pop in and try it on. They didn’t have my size in the colour I wanted, but the staff were extremely helpful and proceeded to call all of their other stores until they managed to track on down for me, and had it shipped to the store for me to collect a few days later. I realise that this sounds like basic customer service, but you wouldn’t believe how little retail staff seem to want to help you when you’re plus size! This was hands down the best customer service I’ve ever received in retail and has secured me as a loyal Autograph customer. I’ll drive all the way out to Sylvia Park for that great service, even though there are other stores that are closer.
+ What was your worst retail experience?
Almost every time I’ve walked into a sportswear store I’ve either been ignored or treated very rudely. I’m not taken seriously because I’m fat (actual comment overheard, “Who is she kidding? Must be lost”) or because I’m female. Just the other day I walked into an outdoors store to buy a new backpack. The two salespeople avoided eye contact and ignored me, instead going straight to assist my partner… who was not there to buy anything. Needless to say they didn’t get my money!
+ Tell me about a purchase that's solved a problem for you.
Finding a store that stocks bras in my size and offers a great fit service is hands down the most valuable thing for me. Like many women, I was wearing the wrong size (and shape) bra, but once I visited the team at Avokado I found out what a big difference having a great fitting foundation can make to your confidence and your outfits.
+ Can you think of any item or service that would be useful to you but doesn't exist yet?
I would love to have online stores showing what garments look like in a variety of sizes and shapes so I can make a more educated guess at what it might look like on me. If your size range is from 12-26, but you only ever show clothes on a smooth size 12 model, then as a short-ish size 24/26 woman with a large bust and hips but a smaller waist, I have no idea what that garment is going to look like on me.
+ What’s an item that you’re planning on buying soon?
Summer is on the way, so I’m on the lookout for a new bikini and some sandals. Plus maybe some new sneakers, because I can never have enough of them.
+ What's your favourite store?
I’m obsessed with Australian fashion brand 17 Sundays. They have an online store and some pieces are stocked in various retail stores in New Zealand and Australia. I love their clothes because they really fit my style and are designed specifically with plus-size women in mind. When I have shopped online with them they are super helpful and their range makes it difficult for me to browse their site and not find something that I want! I’d love for them to open a fully stocked store here in New Zealand.
This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 741, December 2015 / January 2016.