Sunday, August 14, 2011

A lot can change in 3 years...apparently.

I have been working in my chosen field (graphic design/web design) for the past 3 years, but my first job in San Francisco was at the Westfield Mall in Union Square. I very briefly worked at Zara, but after 2 months I was hired at the tea store across the mall: Lupicia Fresh Tea, a high-class tea boutique from Japan.

I loved working there, and after about 6 months they asked me to start working at the head office to be their in-house graphic designer, and thus began my career in design. In fact, I have my current job due to the connections I made at Lupicia as well.

Anyway, because I spent so much time at the mall while I was working there, I became fairly well acquainted with both the Sanrio store and the M.A.C counter at Bloomingdales, and even though my current job is walking distance to the mall, I haven't been back there pretty much since I left Lupicia. I had racked up a large amount of Sanrio bonus cards, so I wanted to exchange those, buy some new M.A.C goodies, and of course, visit Lupicia to pick up some tea and see if any of my old coworkers were still there.

Each card represents $50 spent on My Melody stickers. :/

My first stop was the basement where the Sanrio shop is. I also stopped by Calbee, which was recently added to the mall. My coworker Zuzu got me hooked on their snacks, so I bought a box of them.

I got suckered into buying the tea because they wouldn't take my debit card for under $5. (Hey, did you know it's illegal to have a minimum charge or fee before you take a credit or debit card?? Jerks.)

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with the Sanrio bonus card program, it works like this: for ever $1 you spend, you get a stamp. After 50 stamps, you can exchange the card for a prize. They have prizes for 1 full card, 2 full cards, and sometimes up to 15 cards (those are really good prizes, obviously.) The great thing about the bonus card prizes was that most of the time they were exclusive to the bonus card program. That means you couldn't just buy those items; if you wanted them, you had to save up your cards. And the items were really, really good. Some of my favorite Sanrio goods that I own are from the bonus card program.

At least, that's how it worked up until recently. Now you get 1 stamp for every $5 spent, and when you get a full card you get...$5 off your purchase. So, instead of an awesome, exclusive prize I get...$5 worth of ordinary Sanrio junk that I could get anywhere. Um...yay?

At least they let me exchange my old cards for new ones. My 8 full old cards translated to 2.66 new cards. So that's *almost* $15 for damn near $500 spent. To put this crappiness into further perspective, a few years ago I traded 5 bonus cards ($250 spent) for a huge vinyl bag, the kind of bag that normally runs $30-40. Do I feel ripped off and disappointed? Yes. Is it the end of my Sanrio shop sluttery? Nah. A discount is still a discount, and they have lots of great goodies at that store (they tend to carry a lot of the "high class" Hello Kitty goods like Tokidoki and Tarina Tarantino collabs, and stock a lot of Kuromi and Little Twin Stars.)

The Sanrio expedition was kind of a bust (although I did find a cute birthday gift for my friend), so I approached the M.A.C counter with trepidation. Would it even still be there? Did they discontinue Strobe Cream?

Nah, it was still there, and pretty much the same as ever. I wasn't feeling excited anymore by the time I got there, so I just picked up two refills: concealer in NW20 and Strobe Cream. (I've written about the glory that is Strobe Cream on my health and beauty blog.) I did stop myself from buying their loose pigment in Magenta Madness, even though I could use that color for a lot of great things. (I am sure I will go back and get it eventually...that is, if it doesn't get discontinued. -_-)

So I headed over to Lupicia, which is just outside Bloomingdales on the 2nd floor. As I got closer, I noticed the store was dark. I thought it was getting late and the mall might be closing, but was curtained off and boarded up. It was gone. Shocked, I looked closer. There was a sign on the door that said they were "renovating" and would reopen in a different location on the 3rd floor. (Okay, so are they renovating, or are they moving??) Either way, the place where I started my career, made lots of wonderful friends, and drank lots of amazing tea is gone, or at least very different.

I don't know why I'm so surprised/upset. I haven't worked there for a year and a half, and I haven't shopped there in even longer. But still; it was somewhat comforting to at least know it was there. And now I have to order my tea online.

I stopped at LUSH on the way home to console myself. I still wasn't feeling it, though. They didn't have any new stock except the Dirty line, which I'm not too fond of (it smells like toothpaste?) I picked up 2 old faves (Big Blue and Dorothy), a refill of Veganese (the best conditioner on the planet) and Eau Roma Water Toner, which is new to me. I love it; it smells like roses and is really refreshing and gentle.

I guess did feel a bit better after shopping at LUSH. The staff there are always so nice, and the good smells perked me up. Still pissed, but I guess things have to change. At least I have a full bottle of Strobe Cream now.

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