No one said it would be easy to be a conscious consumer. It's difficult to weed out scams. Identity theft is commonplace. Shipping costs are high and there's no guarantee items will arrive in a timely fashion. I once had to wait almost five months for a blanket. There wasn't anything special about it. I didn't purchase a custom design. The company, Pardon My Fro, didn't explain the reason behind the holdup, just that there would be a delay.
Insert: Boombastic Side Eye
Whenever I travel, I seek out local destinations that are women-owned or minority-owned. I like to put money back into the communities I visit. However, this does not necessarily translate to good experiences. Oftentimes, selections and (clothing) sizes are limited. Store hours may not be as advertised, and a company website usually takes the form of a social media page rather than a professional domain. This past weekend I drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in search of post-holiday sales. After several hours of outlet shopping, I journeyed to a small Black-owned bookbar. I found the concept intriguing and their menu appetizing. I fasted all day. I couldn't wait to feast on short-rib sliders, washing them down with an endless supply of wine on tap. Imagine my disappointment to learn that although the bookbar opened at four o'clock, no food would be served until seven. In addition, there was only one wine available. Needless to say, A Concrete Rose was not as advertised. What's more, there wasn't much to occupy my time; the "curated" book selection mainly featured children's books and celebrity new releases. There were no local authors' works available. The owner's poems and paintings were the only local items on display.
When the attendee informed me the menu had spontaneously changed to include only vegan/vegetarian options, I was fit to be tied. I politely purchased a bottle of wine and exited before a seething green Incredible Hulk monster emerged from my body and smashed up the place. When I'm hangry I'm not responsible for my mouth. I'm liable to say anything. One thing I'm a stickler for is good customer service. Hence, why I still purchased wine. The attendee on duty was pleasant and the food/wine selection or lack thereof where outside his control.
My penchant for good customer service extends to big box stores as well. I refuse to give Best Buy my money when no one acknowledges my presence. During the 2023 holiday shopping season, I roamed around my local store for over an hour without so much as a nod or hello from the salespeople.
I have a bit more patience for smaller businesses but you can imagine my frustration when my emails and direct messages on Instagram and Facebook Messenger were ignored by B. Luxury Essentials after I made a purchase totaling more than fifty dollars (USD). I'd hoped the items would have shipped within three to five days as advertised. Weeks passed and I grew increasingly suspicious. I just knew I'd been scammed. The final straw broke when the company's phone voicemail consisted of an automated recording. B. Luxury Essentials was not receiving calls. Twenty-one days passed before shipping information from the company landed in my inbox.
Amongst my friends, I am known as the CIA. With little to no information, I can find the dating history along with spilled tea on any scoundrel who may cross one of my girl's paths. Once again, I had to suppress my inner Hulk who wanted to enlist a friend to go knock on Mrs. B's front door.
If Keith Lee's dining experience in Atlanta, GA, and the recent Shannon Sharpe-Kat Williams interview teach us anything, it's that we need to hold one another accountable. Too often, we whisper and gossip amongst each other. Why? Especially if everything said is true. I am not trying to gain clout for knocking another woman's hustle. My experiences are valid, however.
This helmet-wearing generation is too sensitive. Playgrounds are padded. Participation awards are distributed. Everyone makes the team. People fear honesty because it might hurt another's feelings. Someone who falls and scraps their knees gets up tougher. They've learned a lesson about looking where they're going.
Despite my negative experiences and my rant, I haven't given up on shopping small; on buying Black; on avoiding fast fashion; and supporting women-owned businesses.