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Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Dave!More than once I've been asked by people what my most bizarre, craziest experience has been in all my years of traveling. My answer is always the same: shopping at an Ambercrombie & Fitch store.

I'm not trying to be funny either... every time I go into Abercrombie I am inundated with crazy, and find it a more bizarre experience than anything else I can think of. The walls are covered with mostly naked guys and gals, but the store sells clothing. The music is so loud that it is impossible to communicate with the staff, assuming you can find any staff (they don't wear name tags or a uniform, so it's hard to know who works there). The store is impeccably maintained and beautifully merchandised, but the bulk of the clothing they sell looks like rags. I could go on, but if you've shopped there, you already know what I'm talking about. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, Improv Anywhere did a massive prank at an Ambercrombie & Fitch store that you must see.

Anyway, after deciding to go on vacation, I realized I needed to buy some vacation clothes. This isn't as easy as it sounds, because most stores have already transitioned over to Fall apparel (even though it's still August). But Salt Lake City has "The Gateway," which is a nice place to shop (even if you hate shopping like I do) so I decided to give it a try. Store after store had no shorts or short-sleaved shirts, until I got to Abercrombie, which had plenty.

So there I am looking around when I see that everything looks really small. Not knowing what the deal is, I shout at a sales clerk over the thumping music to ask where the mens shorts are. She screams back at me that I'm in the KIDS Abercrombie store, and I need the ADULTS store next door.

WTF?!? So I look around and, sure enough, it's mostly moms shopping with their kids. But the walls are still covered with half-naked adults, which I found totally bizarre for a kids store (though not nearly as odd as if the walls had been covered with half-naked children). Then I walk outside to see how I could have possibly missed the sign saying this was "kids"...

A photo of Abercrombie for Kids store.

A photo of Abercrombie and Fitch.

Uhhh... yeah... how in the hell would you know? They look identical, and are designed with identical fixtures, identical half-naked signage, and have identical clothing (it's just that one has it in smaller sizes).

So I go to the store next door to the ADULTS store and start looking around. Depending on how crappy my health is at any given moment, my waist size fluctuates from a 30 to a 34. I usually split the difference and go with a 32 which, at Abercrombie Land, means I'm fat. I always end up having to dig to the bottom of the pile, where the largest size is usually a 36.

Not finding what I'm looking for, I eventually spot two guys folding shirts while scream-chatting, and take a guess that they work here (apparently, folding shirts is a two-man job). After yelling what I am looking for, I get an eye-roll from one of the guys and am led around the store at breakneck speed while he points to things. Since I can't hear him and am struggling to keep up, I assume that he's pointing at the stuff I was looking for. After that, he bellows "LET ME KNOW IF I CAN HELP YOU FIND A SIZE" and runs back to the guy he was folding shirts with.

Eventually I manage to find two pairs of shorts I want, so I go to a cash register in menswear... and nobody is there. I go to the main cash register section... and nobody is there. I wander into womenswear, but can't tell if any of them work there. Just as I'm about to give up, a young woman sneaks up behind me and asks me a question of some kind ("What?" - "ARE YOU READY?!?") then gets a second young woman to wait on me. This one says something I can't understand as she removes the security tags ("What?" - "HAVE YOU TRIED OUR FRAGRANCES?") and then yet another young woman comes to ring me out (apparently running the cash register is a three-person job).

When I'm handed my bag (a work of art, really) I consider asking for something "less gay" but decided against it...

Gay Abercrombie and Fitch bag

I'm secure enough in my sexuality that I don't mind walking around with a naked dude on my shopping bag... but I just don't think I'm manly enough to pull it off with any kind of authority (with a bag like this, I'm guessing it would take somebody like Chuck Norris or John Wayne).

As I leave, I get a wave from the guy who "helped" me... still folding the same damn shirts with his buddy... and wonder how much of my hearing I've lost.

By the time I figure out Salt Lake City's TRAX train system and get back to my hotel, it's time to head out to the Hard Rock Cafe for Dave Lake City 2! Instead of walking, I try to navigate TRAX again, which ends up taking 45 minutes to travel just over a mile (a story for another time). But I still somehow manage to show up with one minute to spare.

Attendees consisted of myself... and Marty from Banal Leakage...

Dave and Marty at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Needless to say, Dave Lake City 2 was awesome!

Annnnnnd... I can't access my blog to post this. Apparently it's down for "planned maintenance" or something. Terrific. I was hoping that I could add one more thing to my massive list of things to do tomorrow morning.

Categories: Travel 2008Click To It: Permalink


  1. ChillyWilly says:

    Dave Lake City 2 was great. I love my lanyard and so did Reba (who couldn’t make it last night – last min babysitting for her granddaughter).

    And Dave can now verify that I really do have a scooter and ride it most places I go.

    As for the A&F shopping experience, you are right. The loud music and ragged and worn look of their fashions is a reason I don’t shop there. That and the fact that a t-shirt costs almost $40. I don’t even pay that for a concert shirt, let alone one that looks like it got washed 200 times, with the logo falling off.

  2. Gina says:

    You and one other made up Dave Lake City? Aw… What Dooce and her hubby didn’t wanna come out? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad you had a good time in spite of things.

    I enjoy the Abercrombie half-naked men and women on the walls and in the ads myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Howard says:

    My current housemates are well aware of feelings towards places like A&F; however, three years ago, they still got me a gift card to the store. I had never even been in one.

    It took me an hour to find something I would wear that didn’t have their logo or that damn animal thing (elk?) on it. I did find some very comfortable leather flip-flops which I still wear.

    I noticed, too, that if you had a waist larger than a 38, you were not wanting there: the unspoken “We don’t have fatty sizes” was all over size selection.

    No one spoke to me the entire time I was there until I got to the register. I assume it was because I was over 29 and they didn’t want senior citizens in the store either.

    Needless to say, I’ve never been back and have decided to white elephant gift all future A&F gift cards.

  4. Raychelle says:

    Ha! I loathe A&F. My first job out of college was Assistant Manager at the local Abercrombie. It was awful. I will say that the company is very good at marketing to it’s target market…you’ll find a similar experience in every store you go to. Ever since my year at A&F, when I walk by that store & smell the “Fierce” billowing out of the front door, hear the music blaring, & see the “greeters” standing around…a scowl comes across my face & I can’t bare to walk in the store.

  5. Amanda says:

    You can’t see because the tree’s in the way, but I believe the kids store is lowercase (abercrombie) and the adult store is capitalized (Abercrombie)

  6. ajooja says:

    I think it’s great when you end up having a two-person “Dave event.” I don’t know why.

  7. Glad you had a good time in SLC. TheNinja and I recently visited and “The Gateway” was about the only reliable thing to alleviate our boredom (aside from the normal honeymoon activities, if you catch my drift) since the rest of the city seems to close up shop at around 7pm.

    Speaking of my other half, while in college he “worked” for Abercrombie and Fitch, and the reason I used the air-quotes there is because from all I can gather his “work” included little more than walking around shirtless and tossing a football indoors.

    God bless America!

  8. Gรถran says:

    This is totally a “You know yoยดre middleaged when” you freak out over the volume at a clothing store ๐Ÿ™‚ Not that I disagree, Iยดm middle aged too you know! Abercrombie _is_ a weird store!

  9. so there were only two of you there and you both wore name badges? really?

  10. jewelz916 says:

    Oooh….I totally get the whole Abercrombie & Fitch deal. I used to shop there, but once I hit my mid-30s I realized that they don’t really WANT me shopping there/wearing their clothes/advertising their store. Everything is soooooo teeny-tiny that my ego takes a huge hit every time I walk in there.
    My favorite/craziest memory of my days shopping there was a day when there was absolute cluster-fuck going on with all of the sales associates. When I asked what was going on, they told me that somebody had POOPED in a dressing room. Seriously!!!! Who does that?

  11. Robin says:

    I so don’t see you as the Abercrombie type…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Naomi says:

    Did you notice the kids’ version has a lower case “a” and the adult an “A”?

    I’m not proud, but I do have a t-shirt from that retched place. (I wouldn’t go in the store for it though–I made my friend go buy it for me.)

    “Nooner brand coffee. Piping hot. Always ready. Wanna take a break?” I get a lot of dirty looks when I wear it… so I wear it often.

  13. Kyra says:

    I went into an A&F for the first time a couple weeks ago. The music was really loud, and there was almost NO LIGHT! It was close to pitch black, minus a couple spot lights on a couple stacks of clothes…. I think it might have been fun about 15 years ago to shop there. Now? Not so much.

  14. Poppy says:

    I F’ing hate that F’ing store, kids version or not. It’s like a sleezy night club where people get raped and/or tortured. Or eaten by vampires.

  15. Sarah says:

    I don’t shop at Abercombie. I can’t wear most of their clothes to work because of the logo on the shirts. I hate shopping there with friends because the music is so loud that I end up with a headache by the time I leave.

  16. claire says:

    hey, I’m wearing that t-shirt you’re wearing in that shot today. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The Fitch is crazy like you describe. Don’t think I’ve ever ended up buying anything from then though, so I’ve been missing out on a few levels of the crazy.

  17. I love that you wrote “which, at Abercrombie Land, means I’m fat” because that is how I always feel when I try to shop there. I wear a size 0 or 2 and sometimes a kids size 18 and at abercrombie I need a large in their shirts to feel like it fits. Even then I feel like everything is a little tight (which I think is their plan). I will only shop online with them now after experiencing too many trips like you described. Their clothes are ridiculous most of the time anyway. I tried a bunch of tops and they are all see through and way too tight. I’m not actually a stripper, so those won’t really work for dropping my kids off at school or being in public or anything.

  18. Andre says:

    The London Abercrombie&Fitch Store is still one big deal over here in Europe(being the only one outside of America) and i have shared your shopping experience over there a couple of times. I still wonder who told their designers that human beings have arms like Orangutans, as all their longsleeves have extremly loooooooooong sleeves…:-)

  19. Oh, that’s hilarious. I wonder what reaction you would have gotten if you *had* asked for a less gay looking bag? Did they think those bags would be popular with blokes?

  20. Lewis says:

    I can tell….I just can….that you’re in the mood for a second job. Maybe at A&F. I can just see you in your tight t-shirt, baggy jeans with giant belt, and flip flops. Folding shirts, folding shirts, X 1,000.

  21. Dickie Maxx says:

    Ok a couple of points of intrest. There is a difference between the half naked people in the Abercrombie and The Abercrombie and Fitch store. Abercrombie (the kids store) has half nekked teens on the walls. Like in 14 year old kids. Where as A&F they are a few years older.

    But really the point I wanted to make. If you are shopping at A&F then you really need to up your 20% gay to at least 30%

  22. Bec says:

    Because I am basically stupid and very very gullible I believe a totally twatish friend of mine of told me that A&F stood for Apple Crumble and Fish… and though that was a very daft name for a store. It wasn’t until it was mentioned i some song or another (possibly by Wheatus or Barenaked Ladies) that I was correctly informed.

    Damn joke sweatshirts…

  23. Dave2 says:

    Marty… Yes, the scooter does indeed exist! And, after trying to get around on TRAX, I have to say it’s probably a more efficient way of getting around the city. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gina… Dooce was too busy encouraging her daughter to eat rat poison so she’d have something new and hilarious to blog about… so she couldn’t make it. ๐Ÿ™

    Howard… Yes, well, imagine being over 40 and trying to shop at their store! You may be a senior citizen, but I am the walking DEAD to them! Still, the shorts I bought were nothing extreme at all… just regular shorts, so it’s all good by me!

    Raychells… I honestly don’t care what the ambiance of the store is if they have something I want… but A&F are almost hostile towards their customers, which is kind of surprising. I guess the younger generation they target LIKES to be treated like shit.

    Amanda… Yep… turns out that’s the difference. I hate to admit it, but I think that’s actually kind of cool!

    Ajooja… Any time there’s more than me there, it’s a win! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Bombshell… Has Ninja seen the video I linked to above? It should make him smile. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gรถran… The thing is… I don’t mind loud music. I regularly listen to my music loud. But this is obscenely loud, which is stupid when you’re in an environment where people need to communicate!

    Hello… Of course! It’s not a Dave Event unless there are name badge lanyards… no matter how many people show up!

    Jewelz… I think you’ve got it figured out… they don’t want anybody over 25 in their store. Of course, it was probably an 18 year old that crapped in the dressing room, so you get what you deserve! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Robin… Well, I don’t wear the rags they sell… but their shorts are very nice. They just look like “shorts”… nothing really A&F about them.

    Naomi… I think a lot of their clothes are actually quite nice for a younger crowd. I just buy their button-up short-sleeve shirts and shorts though, because they’re not really age specific. How many offers do you get wanting to take you up on a nooner? ๐Ÿ˜€

    Kyra… Ah… that’s called “ambiance.”

    Poppy… Now you’ve gone and made it sound all goth and cool… I am going to be compelled to shop there now!! Vampires, really?!

    Sarah… I don’t understand the rationale for music that’s louder than loud. Is there a certain ear-drum-busting decibel level that stores are required to have?

    Claire… I’d like to vacation at A&F… it’s like visiting another planet.

    Tori… But you make their stripper-wear sound so appealing!!

    Andre… I KNOW! I wanted to buy a rugby shirt and was swimming in extra sleeve length. AND I HAVE LONG ARMS! Heaven only knows how you’re supposed to deal with the excess if you have normal-sized arms!

    Kevin… I’m sure they are popular… with gay blokes!

    Lewis… Oh heavens yes. Working at Abercrombie would be like having a daily vacation! But one you go deaf on.

    Dickie… Actually, in the kids store I went into… the models were the exact same. They were not any younger. I don’t know what the deal is with that. And the only reason I shopped at Abercrombie was because they were the only ones who were still selling summer wear!

    Bec… Actually, it sounds a lot more entertaining as Apple Crumble and Fish!

  24. diane says:

    I had a boyfriend in college who more or less considered himself the Abercrombie and Fitch posterboy. It’s all he wore. To this day, the smell of their signature scent (which he wore, of course) makes me want to retch. :p

  25. adena says:

    The bag bit made me snort out loud. That’s freaking hysterical!

  26. Ha, i like what you said to Gina about Dooce!!!

    Funny, man!!


  27. Sue says:

    I’m never going to bother with that store.

  28. Winter says:

    I’m envious that you got to hang out with Marty! I wanna hang out with Marty! Wahhh! BTW… I don’t suppose you’d send me that shopping bag, would you? *drools*

  29. Glad you’ve enjoyed Dave Lake City and I completely agree with you about Naked Models & Fitch. I really don’t need to go deaf while shopping for over-priced clothing.

  30. kapgar says:

    There was a point in time where I tried going into an A&F. That ended right quick. Can’t take it. How old does that place make me feel?

  31. ETinNY says:

    So, which was louder -Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe or A&F?

  32. Robert says:

    I’m gay, and even *I* wouldn’t want to be seen carrying that bag around. (Partly because I can’t tell if the boy on it is legal age or not!)
    But yeah, you’ve summed up pretty well why I never shop there. (That, and, the ridiculously high prices.)

  33. Dave2 says:

    Diane… Oh, I know. The store reeks of the stuff. I had enough to last a lifetime, and they wanted me to BUY the stuff to take home?

    Adena… Unless you’re a guy having to carry it, I guess it would be funny!

    Michelle… There’s a part of me who honestly believes it too!

    Sue… But what if they’re the only store in town that has the shorts you need! IT’S A TRAP! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Winter… It’s a shame that A&F don’t put Marty on their bags!

    Granddaughter… What’s odd is that the photography (all by the amazing Bruce Webber) is the best thing about the store… putting the subject matter aside, they are fantastic works of art.

    Kapgar… If you’re anything like me, too old to want to go back!

    ETinNY… Abercrombie, hands-down.

    Robert… Hah! I never even thought about that. Wouldn’t it be great getting arrested on the street for child porn?!? ๐Ÿ™‚

    What’s funny about this is that I went to four stores looking for shorts and found nothing. If it weren’t for Abercrombie, I don’t know what I would have done. The good news is that the only shorts I found that I could wear were on sale for $29 (regular $49) which is about how much they’re worth to me.

    Weather or not such a bargain is worth going deaf for, I have no idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Dave, oh i totally believe it!!!

    Dooce, is shall we say not all that funny even though she certainly thinks she is!!

    Your funnier man!!


  35. Beth says:

    I won’t shop there nor allow my kids to wear their stuff. Young teens playing sexy, it’s just moronic. I am a boycotter, t-totaler, will not give them one cent!

  36. We don’t have A&F Down Under and it sounds like we’re not missing much. Can’t stand ANY shopping experience that has an inherently annoying soundtrack… no doubt this is a post traumatic stress disorder response from a few years of working for the Disney Store while I was at Uni… I’ve never been quite the same (twitch, twitch)

  37. whall says:

    Wanna know a little piece of whall trivia? I’m in a half-dozen of those photos, on the lower right.

  38. Stacey says:

    I have never shopped at A&F and never intend to. I had a friend in college who worked there who explained to me that A&F hires only ATTRACTIVE people because that’s who they market to. Then she sorta implied I should never look for a job there. Whore.

  39. Ok, Howards “Senior citizen” comment up there is damn funny.

    I love this entry – I’m thoroughly creeped out that the kids store has the same vibe, and all I can say is that everytime I walk by a A&F, I think of Hulas, the great gay bar in Hawaii. It’s the exact same experience. Except when I’m going to Hula’s, I’m expecting go-go boys.

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