Dear Hollister

Dear Hollister

I visited one of your stores for the first time just before Christmas and what an experience it was.   So much so that I felt I just had to put my thoughts “out there”.

I have looked at your website before but as the papers before Christmas were full of stories of deliveries not being made I thought I would go along to the nearest, recently opened, store as my son is a huge fan of your gear and wanted some stuff.   Well he didnt know he wanted it, I was just running out of ideas of what to get the 16 year old who has everything.

My suspicions of what I would be letting myself in for were first aroused by this picture on the website:

a clothing site being advertised by a topless man.   Not sure I can make the connection but he does seem a very good looking young man.

As a 42 year old tubby mother I am not your target audience.   The only thing that might fit me in your stores is the sofa.

However, I have three children who fit  EXACTLY into your target audience.   And since your T-shirts are £30 each it is actually me you need to target as I am paying for it.  And I knew I was really going to be paying for it with this Christmas pilgrimage.

So off we went to Guildford.   A double entrance shop,designed to look like a beach hut (which did look slightly odd in a covered shopping centre in Surrey) “Betty’s” on one side, “Dudes” on the other.   This said to me “run” but I was here now.

I walked into pitch black darkness.  It was like walking into a cave.    A cave with loud thumping music.  And skinny kids in check shirts and shorts.  And surf boards on the wall.  Hollister you do know that Guildford is over an hour from the nearest beach, don’t you?

And as for the “clothing optional beyond this point” sign outside the changing room.  Please.  No.  Just no.

I could barely see to find the T-shirts but then when I did, I couldn’t see the sizes, let alone any kind of styling.   Mr B pointed out that there was a spotlight on the other side of the store so I had to walk across to it so I could a) see what size it was and b) what the price was.      It was impossible.

It was at this point that Mr B actually walked out.  He couldn’t take anymore.  Six minutes into a day’s shopping.

Whilst walking back from the spot light I spotted a cardigan.  I have no idea what colour it was but the style looked quite good, until, again walking back to the spotlight I realised it was £150.   Suffice to say it went back on the rail.   £150 for a cardigan?!  For a 16 year old?  When I don’t even know what colour it is?

It took me 20 minutes to find four T-shirts (blowing my £100 budget) and find a till.    By which point I actually just wanted to get out.   My head was about to explode.

Reaching the till meant squeezing various bits of furniture and apologising for bumping into people that turned out to be clothes stands.

£130 later…. yes £130 for four T-shirts and I grabbed my bag to get out as quickly as I could.   Except first of all I walked into a “lounging area” that was all cordoned off so once I was in,  I couldn’t get out again easily as I was then walking back into the queue at the tills.  I was surrounded by fake fireplaces, fake bookshelves, and sofas.  Why?  It’s a clothes shop.

I don’t need the “California casino feel” that you are trying to create.  I need a light on.  Please.  It is not too much to ask.   When I am being fleeced, I want to see the white’s of the assistant’s eyes.  Not their teeth, which are so white I actually used those as a navigation device.

Another pile of apologies as I made my way out and emerged blinking into the Friary Centre like a mole appearing out of his hole on my lawn.

A thoroughly horrible experience.

Hollister, you might be targeting 14 to 19 year olds but at £30+ for a T shirt you really need to think about the experience of the people handing over the debit card.   And that is me.

And I hated it.   I shall not be returning I am afraid.

Lots of Love


PS when you open a store in the Middle East you might want to change that door signage.  Dude is the Arabic for worm.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

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  • Great blog post.
    Agree, theres is not a customer service experience I would
    promote as a stylist. I bang on about the customer service experience
    but will they listen as sales & revenue are good?!!


  • Love, love, LOVE this post. I totally agree with you. And in my mid-twenties – I really should be part of their target customer base…I hate the one near where I live, loud music, shopping in near total darkness, stupid bits of furniture everywhere (god forbid someone in a wheelchair or with a buggy should try to shop there, they’d get stuck!) and on top of that ‘All American’ British smiling teens everywhere asking me if they can help. PUT A LIGHT ON AND TURN THIS MUSIC DOWN, is my only response. It didn’t help their cause that when they opened a store near me they advertised for ‘beautiful people’ – no retail experience required. They actually stopped so called ‘beautiful people’ in the shopping centre to ask them to work for Hollister. Scouted. To be a sales assistant. Requirements: Beautiful, ‘natural hair’, no scary pierings or obvious tattoos…

    I’ll shop anywhere else, any day of the week thank you. xx

  • T,

    I LOVE this post, really made me chuckle! Whatever you do, don’t go anywhere near an Abercrombie, all of these delights plus the added benefits of some intoxicating fragrance that they pump in whih makes your head explode and to top it all off the pleasure of having to queue even to get in the door. Customer service #fail!

    • Thank you Lady B! Don’t suppose I will be a brand ambassador for them any time soon!!

  • Oh how familiar! My daughter and I visited the Australian “cousin” store in Cardiff – no idea what it was called, but it had a semi naked bloke outside with lots of tellies and apparently live feed from Bondi beach. Hilarious. Similarly dark inside so, like you, I was taking things to spotlights to try to find what was going on. Eventually hysteria set in and we just resorted to untidying their displays, childish but hugely entertaining to us, and spent what felt like 20 mins trying to find our way out, having forgotten to lay a breadcrumbs trail. The till queue seemed to be full of people returning things – who presumably had got them outside and found they were the wrong colour, size, thing etc…. Like you, I will NEVER return. Bonkers.

  • hahaha y’know my mum felt JUST like this about the big Biba store in the 70s…

    But I loved it. Nearest thing I could get to rebellion..

  • Fab post! Sounds just like my experience in one of the Glasgow stores. Staff were stunning but cr*p. And what’s with the pitch black? It made me feel 102. I watched in amazement as my mum spent a small fortune on my NINE year old niece for Christmas. If my daughter wants Hollister (or whatever the equivalent is in 10 years’ time – I can barely imagine) she can get a part time job and pay for it herself. 😉

  • This made me chuckle! Hope your teen progresses through this painfully expensive phase. Mine has and now shops at Top Man. He’s suddenly become less label conscious and more creative with his cash. Wealthy relative (married to still gainfully employed investment banker) used to buy for him from Abercrombie & Fitch which is equally dark and full of beautiful young things. Jack Wills is another pricey preppy brand (full price polo shirts for teens at £49) – I’d be interested in your comments about JW (they’re British)!

  • Jings. now I realise what that place is in Braehead. I thought it was a restaurant or nightclub in a very odd location… Silly me!

  • Fantastic Blog, made me chuckle also 🙂

    It’s an awful shop I totally agree with everything you have said. Also the name Hollister just makes me think of Ostomy and Stoma Care products!!!

    Look forward to reading your next blog 🙂 xx

  • I laughed all the way through your post just brilliant. I now have styling withdrawal symptoms from my pre baby days and want to roll up my sleeves and get in there to sort it out. My first port of call would be to send a worm out to buy a few lightbulbs.
    Cat x

  • I’m 25 which I think puts me in the middle of their target audience – I’ve been to their store in MK once – I picked up a skirt but when I held it up to myself the hem line was so short I don’t think it would have left anything to the imagination and the T-shirt I picked up didn’t even go up to my size. That was it I turned round and left.

    I’ll stick to the supermarket and high street chains that make clothes for people with curves and who’s dress size is in double figures rather than single digits 🙂

  • A very witty, very heartfelt review of what sounds to be a rip off shop. They sell style and image and charge a fortune for it, you’re not paying for the clothes are you really. Ridiculous prices indeed. Loved the final comment about the the Arabic meaning of Worm. ;o) @Chaoskay

  • Love this blog, I was a fan of Hollister clothing but hate the stores, I was in the same store a few days ago as It said they had a sale on, well unlike other stores they have tiny signs on shelves saying 20% off etc, the items are not individually marked as reduced, you could pick something up thinking it was in the sale yet its not as not clearly labelled, this must be against trading standards.

    Wonder how many of the surfers in Surrey would check the price at the tills 🙂

  • Hollister is the current brand preferred by our local Irish Travelers (yes we have them in South Carolina). Enough said.