One of my co-workers is expecting a baby girl. In honor of the parents, the Mother of the soon-to-be-Mama invited us all to attend a baby shower.
So, I looked at the registry and ordered a few items to be shipped directly to my co-worker’s house. Because I didn’t want to arrive to the shower empty-handed, I also decided to venture to a Baby Gap on 5th and 17th in NYC.
I opened the front door, stepped inside, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I looked and looked and finally found a sales person to direct me to the baby section.

I went downstairs and, yet again, there was no one there. Only after walking around in circles did I finally find the newborn section.

The Problem: Even when I finally got to the right section it was, quite frankly, a disaster!! First of all, why the hell is everything categorized boy/girl? It made me think that the Gap designers and marketers are still stuck in the 90’s. Have they never heard of the term “gender neutral”? Seriously, everything was either pink, blue, or decorated with rockets, stars, ballerinas, or hearts. Ugh…I would never dress my child in this!

After going through a rather frustrating curation of baby items, I found 3 outfits that I thought could work but they all had stripes. Oh dear, I hope I didn’t buy outfits that will make everyone dizzy!

I’m not even going to describe paying for my gifts, which was an entirely different and yet equally frustrating experience that I’ll address another time.

 

The Fix: Clean up your stores! For instance:
– Have a sales clerk on each floor
– Fold the clothes so they’re not randomly stacked in disorganized piles
– Attend to your customers—they might have questions!
– Minimize the checkout waiting line. This is probably where most retailers lose their customers.

Just FYI, I had to wait 20 minutes in line as there was only one checkout clerk available and the line kept getting longer and longer. During that time, 2 customers gave up and left.

The Gap’s management is clearly stuck on the 90’s and isn’t up to speed with reality. I recommend shaking everything up and hiring new blood.
Look at other stores who get it right, like Bonobos, and use them as your role model!

Since January 1st I’ve been constantly e-welcomed by “January specials” from various gyms, private trainers, and barre method studios, all of them inviting me to take advantage of a “beginners” special offer of up to a 50% reduction—if I join NOW!!
Ugh… I’m so sick of this January “health month”! Why are companies so desperate to get us in the door in January? Of course, I get that there are millions of folks out there who are either on a post-holiday guilt trip or have made a New Year’s resolution (which often only lasts for a week or 2) to sign up for a gym/body changing institution membership or a private trainer.

But what I particularly don’t understand is why I’m getting emails from places/institutions I’m already working out at! Don’t they know who their current clients are? Or are they simply not paying any attention to their email marketing lists? In my book, both are bad.

Problem: I’m getting so sick of these offers that I’ve stopped opening emails from places I frequently work out at. In the long run, this can become problematic for the company. In the past, these companies have sent me super interesting information, including new offers that would suit me as well as information about hours of operations and so forth. Now, after January, I’m inclined not to pay attention anymore.

The Fix: Categorizing mailing lists is key. For example, a good way is to send emails is through Mailchimp. Also, have at least 3 different lists such as current clients, inactive clients, and new clients. Obviously, a fourth list could be generated by buying a mailing list and blasting out a fluffy newcomer offer with a January special.

So, January is considered the Month of Health, when post-holiday, everyone tries to cut down on sugar and fat and joins the gym. This is understandable, as most of us (myself included) have just overindulged on scrumptious holiday food and cocktails for the last 4 weeks of the year.

The sad thing is that brands and the media have convinced us that cold or hot pressed vegetable and fruit juices are the key to a cleaner diet!

Oh, dear! I was a victim of this way of thinking until I met Dr. Lipman (https://www.bewell.com/about/), who informed me that I should stop counting calories and fat and pay attention to my sugar intake instead. Huh? But then I started to investigate, and sure enough, it turns out that your body converts any extra sugar (that you don’t need or burn) into fat! Plus, it’s the kind of fat that settles around your stomach and midsection!

The Problem (and it’s a BIG one)
Brands such as Odwalla claim that their juices help us feel our inner vitality! What? With 45 grams of sugar per bottle?! Yeah, I’ll definitely feel my fatty vitality after drinking this sugary drink for a month… In all honesty, continual ingestion of sugar will turn your body into grease (mostly around your belly). Worse, not only will your body turn into a marshmallow, but sugar tricks your brain into thinking that you need even more of it!
Jamba Juice offers a product labeled 100% fruit juice (whatever that means), including a Banana Blueberry smoothie with 45 grams (or 11 1/4 teaspoons) of sugar per serving! Yikes— a whole bottle could fuel a whole army for a week!!!

The Fix
Read nutrition labels and stay away from anything with more than 8 grams of sugar per serving. In fact, ideally, we shouldn’t ingest more than 25 grams of sugar per day.
Just FYI for those of us who like our morning coffee (I love my medium latte): a medium latte with regular milk contains about 1.5 teaspoons/about 8 grams of sugar. There you go—that’s about one-third of the “normal” sugar intake for the day! I’ll stop here, as you’ll have to calculate the rest of your sugar intake (morning muffins, scones cookies, etc.) for yourself!

Two weeks ago, one of the Fiskur Bistro partners in Manhattan announced that they had closed their 7th Avenue South location in New York City. I was so bummed out to hear it, as I really enjoyed the atmosphere, food, and cocktails (especially their signature cocktail Viday).

On the bright side, rumor has it that they might reopen in a different location under new management. Once it’s confirmed, I’ll be counting the days until they open 🙂 and I’ll be one of their first guests!

Good luck Team Fiskur,

At the beginning of 2017, my partner and I decided to try one of the prepared home meal box services. We picked Blue Apron as our choice, as they offered the best sign-up discount. The system works really well in terms of choosing your meals 1-2 weeks in advance, and they claimed that their ingredients were truly seasonal, provided by local farmers.
Over a course of 3 months, however, we had a few not so pleasant meals, mostly with regards to the fish as well as other proteins that tasted either like over-boiled eggs (dry and stinky) or sour shark (a cured, rubbery, Icelandic shark that is positively un-chewable). So, we decided to try another service.

A friend who is a foodie referred us to Sun Basket, based out of California, and after doing some research, we decided to give it a try. It’s the same concept as Blue Apron, but all the ingredients are organic (if possible) and seasonal. So far, it has been good, and I much more prefer Sun Basket over the others we have tried. No more gagging over bad poultry or Tilapia as Sun Basket won’t provide ingredients that aren’t in season 🙂

The disappointments (but not too bad):
The people at Sun Basket promote that their packaging is recyclable and it is, but trash is trash. I wish they’d find a way to combine some of the ingredients in fewer bags to eliminate some of the tubs and plastic. It’s terrible tossing out all that paper and plastic, including an outer paper bag and several tiny Ziploc bags that cannot be easily reused. That said, my partner and I love the little plastic tubs, which we reuse constantly 😉
Also, on a few occasions, the recipes have been drastically off in terms of cooking time, resulting in either undercooked rice or rock-hard, inedible sweet potatoes 🙁 Basically a waste of meal!

My favorite service experiences this year—shown in order of my devoted love for each brand:

Curio Concept: This unique boutique caters to those who aren’t afraid to take an individual style stand as well as those who aren’t typical brand whores.
Curio is all about individuality, culture, and fashion democracy.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/curio-concepts/

Calphalon: No BS service promises here. If you buy their pots, pans, or other kitchenware, their lifetime warranty is a promise you can count on—and they mean it! They rock!!! Read my post and you’ll understand why I love this brand so much: http://tertiaryreport.com/calphalon/

Leather Spa: There is no other company in NYC that can repair shoes, handbags, belts, and other leather goods as well as Leather Spa. The service in their stores is lacking somewhat in the amount of attention they give to customers, but their repairs are beyond belief! The shoes I got repaired this fall (some are over 10 years old) look exactly the same as when I first wore them.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/leather-spa/

 

My least favorite service experiences this year—shown in order of my devoted dislike for the brand:

American Airlines: Hands down, the worst service and safety experience I’ve ever experienced in my life! Which places them below airlines I’ve been on in Cambodia, Iran, Vietnam, Burma, and Fiji, to name a few. I’ve never felt so unsafe and uncomfortable on a flight: therefore, I’ll never step foot on an AA airline ever again!
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/american-airlines/

The Whitney: One of my favorite architects, Renzo Piano, the master behind the Pompidou in Paris, made me really sad when I visited his latest building in NYC: the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking district. What an utter flow crash, with no concept of lighting, color, or the spirit of the art. The modern art on display is badly curated, placed in such a way that you just want to throw up and take a shit at the same time— meaning I almost felt hungover rather than being refreshed and inspired by the art.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/the-whitney-museum/

Aire Spa NYC: Love the concept and the interiors of the bathing area, but unfortunately, the chlorine smell overwhelms the experience. Nor is the staff helpful, and by staff, I mean everyone from the front desk check to the masseuse.

Also, the temperature in the massage rooms is totally off and the music can be so loud that there is no way to relax and enjoy an aromatherapy massage. In fact, I was so tense during my massage that I came out of it feeling in worse physical and mental shape than when I walked in. It’s not worth the $300 unless you just want to experience a beautiful space full of the smell of chlorine.

However, I do believe with a few tweaks this place could be amazing. The first thing to do is to change upper management and train the staff to shut the f(*$ up while attending to their clients.
See post here: http://tertiaryreport.com/aire-spa-nyc/

New Yorkers are so lucky to have a great shoe shine and repair service that is local and in places that are easy to get to. Leather Spa can literally fix any damages/problems you have with your shoes, handbags, or leather belts, restoring them to their original gorgeous look. The other day, I found out that they even can lower the excessively high stilettos that I purchased after having too many mimosas on a Sunday afternoon. My girlfriends had convinced me that I looked fabulous in them and that the stilettos would go well with my jeans or leather pants. So, I went ahead and spent some $$$, only to end up wearing them once in 5 years. Bummer, I thought, because they’re super nice but the heel is a tad too high. Then I found Leather Spa: they came to the rescue, and guess what, I love my new, 1/4” lower stilettos 🙂

The problem
I took my fabulous stiletto boots to the closest Leather Spa. On my recent visits to the Leather Spa FiDi location, the line was insane. I discovered that the clerk taking orders also performs inspections, which must be done in order to get a price quote. Only after the inspection and a price quote can the order be placed. Despite the long line, the clerk didn’t even think of calling for help. Finally, another staff member showed up, but he didn’t open another cash register done with the average price of carpet cleaning in dublin to help the next guest; instead, he helped a shoe shine customer who had come in way after me and the three other waiting customers.

The Fix
The management should train their staff to keep an eye on the traffic. If there are more than 3 customers waiting in line, someone should call for assistance. It would also be a good idea to monitor what times of day are busiest and hire part-time help during those hours. At the very least, have the decency to serve the customers in the order in which they arrived—no matter what service they need.

My new favorite restaurant in town, Fiskur (which means “fish” in Icelandic) Bistro, is the go-to place for the freshest fish ’n chips, langoustine, arctic char, cod, shrimp salad, and gluten-free dipping crackers that are freshly made in their kitchen daily. The best part: the fish is caught in Iceland in the middle of the night, then airfreighted directly to NY that same day! Can it get any fresher? Not to my knowledge. Oh, and let me tell you: their cocktails are out of this world! My favorite, Dúfa (which means dove or pigeon), is made with Icelandic schnapps and other scrumptious ingredients that I won’t list here—you just have to try it.

The Problem
On a recent visit, I sat at the bar with a friend of mine, whose favorite drink is called Videy (an island in Reykjavik bay), a cocktail mixed with Brennivín and some sort of dill infusion. We had a few drinks and appetizers, and the place was happening. When we were ready to leave, we didn’t see a single staff member and no bartender was visible. All the staff members had disappeared, while there were at least 30 people in the restaurant, not including the bar scene. We waited a good 5 minutes before we found a manager who could bring us our check. Oh, dear. I emailed the owner (whom I know through a family friend) and expressed my concern. Of course, she wasn’t happy to hear my report. No one was fired, but they really had to step up their game, and they have somewhat done so.

The Fix
The staff needs a mentor on site all the time, meaning: don’t hire a young person who doesn’t have a stake in the restaurant’s success or someone who hasn’t been properly trained in hospitality. The immediate fix is to also set a rule that no one should leave the floor without checking in with the customers. It’s as simple as asking: “Can I help you with anything before I step away for a moment?” Train the staff to look up and scan the room, not stare at the floor. The waiters shouldn’t be lingering while waiting for their orders to be filled but rather they should be walking the floor and returning to the bar with (hopefully) more orders. These are such simple fixes, and yet this kind of attention can make or break a bistro! I, for one, hope they’re here to stay!

My absolute favorite fragrance house is diptyque, which creates the most amazing scented candles and perfumes. They had been my client for many, many years, but last year, they decided to move all operations, including global creative, to Paris.
Of course, my team was a bit disappointed, but hey… if the CEO and upper management feel they need to manage their global marketing out of Paris, that’s fine.
I signed up for their email campaign many moons ago, and I was always really pleased with their messaging and online design…until recently. I’m no longer sure what they’re trying to communicate. The emails I get are watered down, slow to load, and I really don’t “feel them” as the brand I used to know 🙁

The Problem
I found out from a good friend of mine, a diptyque insider, that the new agency doesn’t have a native English-speaking writer on staff! Nor do they have any expertise in e-commerce or any know-how in terms of optimizing on-line sales.
Apparently, the copy is written in French, then Google translated, and then edited by a Parisian copywriter! WOW, I thought to myself, that’s so weird. Why are they doing that? Well, my theory is that maybe they think that we, Americans we “don’t get it” and that the right way is the French way (no pun intended)…

The Fix
diptyque should go back to its roots: the founders (who were also friends), Desmond Knox-Leet (painter), Yves Coueslant (set designer), and Christiane Gautrot (architect) embraced exploration and localization so well.
Having your headquarters in Paris is fine, but localize each market, meaning: hire creative teams who know the local culture, language/slang, as well as the customers who are already fans—they’re the ones who’ve created the LOVE for diptyque!

Or shall I say icetails?
On a recent school night, my best friends and I went to Rosa Mexicana (18th street, NYC) for virgin and non-virgin margaritas while catching up on business, life, travel, and everything in-between. But we soon discovered something that I wanted to write about here on TR before I forget! We ordered margaritas, and I ordered a club soda as well, as I like to thin out my drinks to pace myself. Here’s what happened: our alcoholic drinks arrived first, but by the time the chips arrived, we’d almost finished our drinks. I thought to myself, “WOW! Did I really drink this whole glass in 10 minutes?” Then I realized I hadn’t— it was all ice!!!

The Problem
After finishing our first round, we all paid close attention to the second round, particularly at how much ice was in the glasses (of both virgin and non-virgin margaritas). They all had one thing in common: too much ice and no liquid to speak of. AHA! Okay, I get it, they are struggling, so they’re sacrificing the quality I remember from back in 2003, when they took real pride in their mixology. Now, it’s long gone, probably never to return.

The Fix:
If your landlord is too greedy, move, and reestablish your pride in the quality of your food and drinks. The food was mushy and bland, lacking in flavor, and there was no appetizing aroma when it came out. I didn’t eat much, wanting to gag, as it looked like baby food!