The Prada Purse

By Karine Green

The Prada Purse

Growing up, I believed there was no difference between discount store items and high-end fashion items. Once I was on my own, it didn’t take long to discover this was not true – in the least. High-end eyeshadow stays on longer than discount eye-shadow. High-end gas burns cleaner and better in your car than discount grades. A Donna Karen turtle neck last five years longer than a Walmart brand one (based on personal experience), which makes the DK one cheaper than buying a new Walmart one every year. I checked on some of the high-end purses, but they were way outside my price range, so Walmart purses to the rescue.

One day new neighbors moved in. They gutted the house next door and replaced it with all the trappings of a mansion. I thought this was strange. Why buy a dump in a lower-middle income neighborhood then refurbish it to look like it should be in an upper-middle income subdivision.

A few weeks after the mass gutting and cleaning they moved in, and promptly held a garage sale, parking their brand new Lexus and BMW SUV in the street. Curious why they would move things they would not keep I wandered over to the sale and introduced myself. First I want to point out that they were kind and receptive to meeting everyone on the street, but they were bitter and determined about owing nothing- especially to a bank.

During the housing crisis, they say the bank stole their house, and then rigged a loan modification, forcing them to sue, which they won. They sold the house and paid cash for the renovation of the dump into a showplace, then bought two new cars that would last a long time. He called it living off the financial grid. This family was so bitter against the banking institutions that I’m sure they may have harbored hatred for it.

After listening to their reasoning, and having the other Have-Nots that live close by agree that banks are evil, I wandered around looking at the fine silver, designer clothing, antiques (not refurbished junk, actual fine antiques). I stumble upon a Prada purse. My mouth is agape as I pick it up star-struck that I really and truly have one in my hands. The tag reads $5. I buy it without a second thought and take it home.

I stared at it for about an hour; a thought crossed my mind. This purse is much better than the Walmart purses. It’s sturdier, prettier, and is smartly designed inside to hold my things perfectly. I wonder if it makes a difference to everyone else. I head out to do some shopping with my new purse and my discount one.

First stop is a discount store, then a middle-grade one, and finally a high-end shopping establishment with my discount-shop purse. I get the service I usually get, and begin to think I am being stupid. I head back out to the car, change purses and head back in feeling sillier and sillier. I am about to consider going back to the car and giving up when the high-end clerk who ignored me only a few minutes ago approaches me.
“Good afternoon ma’am, how can I help you,” she says smiling.

I smile and ask for the same items she had watched me look at before. For crying out loud, it couldn’t have been ten minutes. I didn’t change my hair or my face. She had made an assumption I couldn’t afford to shop with them. I bought nothing and leave after a few minutes. I head to the medium grade store with the Prada purse jacket and much to my disappointment find that my treatment is also better with Prada on my arm. The only exception was at the discount store I was ignored almost until I left – despite asking for help often. A restock person pushed his cart directly in front of my cart.

“Excuse me. Can I get by?” I make sure my smile and light tone of voice are the same as when I was there with their house brand.

He looks at the snack cakes and motions for me to go around him. No, he wasn’t working on that shelf. He stopped in front of me like he would put car oil on the Hostess shelf. I leave the full cart directly next to his re-shop cart. “Here, since you’re re-stocking you can add this to it,” I say smiling as I leave the store. {You never win when you go against a customer.}

I can hear him as I walk away. “Stuck-up rich-bitch,” he says under his breath. I consider saying something to him but stop myself. He had enough respect to call it like it was. Class-discrimination. He, like the high-end clerk, made an assumption based on my attire.

Not one of the clerks who treated me differently had the wherewithal to recognize me as the same person. The only thing they saw was that purse or lack of that purse. They equated my Prada purse with the ability to afford things. In the past I have loved to change purses – hence using the discount ones because I can have five or six. This personal policy is now changed.

Since carrying the Prada bag, I have noticed that my dinner doesn’t get forgotten, (yes, that happened often.) I have also noticed things like the music shop we have done business with for years will let me order things without a deposit when they never have in the past. When I asked why, the response was, “You have a $1000 handbag. You’re not going to run out on a $80 bill.” I don’t point out that —my actual purchase history would be a better indicator – I am short this week and was worried about making ends meet, and I don’t want him to revoke his offer. I can afford it better next week. I get the best of both worlds. Instant music, and a delay in paying.

I know this isn’t a walk in the park. Some of you may remember a post about my injury last April. I had to have spinal surgery to correct it, so walking in the park is off the table for quite some time. Meanwhile, I hope I can entertain with some minuscule walks and my observations of the people I meet. I also have some notes from a few of my old Walk in the Park’s and hope to be able to post them soon.

Enjoy the Prada. Carry on.

{As a side note, I received the most ‘even’ customer service at the middle-grade store.}

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