Retail Woes

By Annie Lane

May 20, 2017 4 min read

Dear Annie: Today my sister and I were looking at dresses at our local J.C. Penney. I can't remember a more frustrating visit to what I had considered a go-to store for my needs. We had to go through three departments to find a clerk. She was from the shoe department but was more than willing to help us. We weren't able to find an appropriate dress for my sister, who was disappointed. I did find a pair of shoes I liked, but of course, the store had only two sizes in stock, and neither of them was my size. I ended up ordering them and will make another trip to pick them up. The clerk was frustrated and suggested we complain online. But you can't do that online. I'm close to tearing my hair out. J.C. Penney isn't the only department store where I've had a bad experience in recent years. The higher-ups need to look at the basics of the stores to make improvements. — Can't Find a Good Place to Spend My Money

Dear Can't: Spare your hair and channel that frustration into writing. File complaints with the executives of all the stores where you've had bad experiences. Handwritten letters work, but using social media can be even more effective. Companies are quick to respond to negative comments on their pages.

Sadly, a great deal of shopping has been moved online, and stores are investing more of their resources in improving their online presence and less in improving the in-person shopping experience. This is a sign of the times. Perhaps you could try shopping online a little and see whether you like it.

Dear Annie: Because of some problems with my legs and feet, I now have to use a scooter when I go grocery shopping. I realize that from the beginning, grocers have always stocked shelves horizontally (e.g., all cans of corn, left to right, on one shelf). This is a huge problem for someone in a wheelchair or scooter who has problems getting up and down. Every time I shop, there are at least two items that I need on the top shelves, totally out of reach. This results in my having to either wait for someone to come down that aisle so I can ask for help or simply do without that item. It's frustrating!

My suggestion: It might be just as easy for the grocers to place the items on the shelves vertically. For example, regular corn in a vertical row, from top shelf to bottom shelf, and then creamed corn right next to the regular corn, again top shelf to bottom shelf, and then green beans, etc.

The population is growing older, and more people have problems with hips, knees and backs, so more people have no choice but to use a wheelchair or a scooter if they want to shop in stores. Incidentally, I have also witnessed, on numerous occasions, shorter people struggling to reach items on upper shelves and taller people bending down to get something off the bottom shelf. Vertical stocking would also benefit them.

Just because it's always been done one way doesn't mean it can't be changed. — L.W.

Dear L.W.: I'm printing your letter, because you raise a good point, and I don't see why things couldn't be done that way. Perhaps a grocer reading this will decide to give it a try. Thank you for sharing.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected] To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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