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Below, writer and occasional Racked contributor Karyn Polewaczyk puts on her critic hat to review the re-opened H&M on Newbury Street.
It's the classic, "If you give a mouse a cookie" scenario: a fast fashion retailer grows to become an international behemoth, and with money to burn, expands a seminal location to whet the masses' appetites for chrome jewelry and bejeweled crop tops.
The question is, has H&M chewed off too big of a bite?
I ask after a recent visit to the newly-expanded Newbury Street location, where, underneath the glow of fluorescent-lit chandeliers and thump of European EDM, a throng of grabby shoppers shoved past me in order to get their mitts on pajama-style trousers, advertised for $12.95. And that, friends, is the reality of shopping at H&M: it's every man, woman, child, and dog (I spotted a few) for him/herself.
Perhaps it's because 30,000 square feet feels a bit like a lie: most of the space is funneled upward, toward vaulted ceilings unreachable by stair or escalator. Down on the floor, it's still business as usual:
· Fighting with fellow shoppers over the last pair of value-priced pants
· The dismay that comes with unearthing a perfectly-chic sheath dress, smeared with another tryer-oner's lipstick and bronzer
· Waiting in what seems like a never-ending line for a fitting room, serviced by employees who, despite all of the fancy additions, like dedicated sections pour homme and home, still seem as exasperated, if not more so, when the Newbury Street store served as a backup to the arguably better-merchandised Downtown Crossing location. (Could it be that the store is understaffed after its exponential growth? Maybe.)
Don't get me wrong: H&M will continue to be, as it always has been, a place where you can fill in wardrobe gaps and pick up a trendy piece or two without breaking the bank—and conversely, without shedding tears when things fall apart in the wash (or worse, while on the go) a few months later. And as with any shopping experience, you get what you pay for—bumps, bruises, and subservient customer service included. But as the saying goes, it's not size of the store that matters: it's whether or not you have the gumption to wheedle your way through a stack of peplum blouses while someone elbows you in the back without losing your cool.
· H&M Newbury Street Re-Opens with Housewares and Freebies [Racked]