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It depends on my mood! If I’m just impulsively checking out what’s new, then I’d rather go to a counter so I can see lots of different brands and products. If I’m looking to shop from a specific brand, I like stores better – only because I feel like you’re for sure going to get dedicated service by someone who’s trained in the brand.

— Christine

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I tend to prefer counters because they’re more accessible, and it’s easier to browse, and if I need to escape from a pushy SA or something, I can just walk away, whereas you can’t really do that in a store. Plus, most of the brands I love are high end, and I’m classic jeans and t-shirt girl, so I’d feel *really* uncomfortable walking into, say, a Chanel boutique or a Burberry store. (however, apparently there is a Burberry store in my local mall, so I may check that out at some point. Wish me luck and a good hair day.)

 @blueraccoon at the risk of sounding like a snob (and I don’t mean to), when sales staff seem to react as if I’m somehow not “worthy” to be in their store, I remind myself that these are people working in RETAIL….they’re not surgeons or lawyers but sales people! I don’t generally think in these terms about people but sometimes, in stores where the staff might make you feel uncomfortable, it can be helpful to remind yourself that THEY probably couldn’t afford to shop where they work if it weren’t for the discount.

 @Mariella You don’t sound like a snob 🙂 And you do have a point! It’s not even the salespeople so much as it’s other customers sometimes, or just the whole atmosphere of the store. But hey, my money’s as good as the next person’s, right? 🙂 I should remember that more often.

 @blueraccoon I feel this way too. I wear casual, inexpensive clothes and I always feel sorta out of place with all the older, sharper dressed ladies around me. Especially if I’m going someplace like Barneys or Saks. Half of the time the SA’s at those types of stores just give me a look and then ignore me and I’m not sure if that’s better than SA’s who follow you around and push product on you. 

 @yellowlantern Yes, exactly! I mean, I’m there in my Eddie Bauer t-shirt and my Macy’s jeans, and they’re all smartly put together, and I feel grungy and fat and so out of place. The SAs at the Nordy’s counters don’t ignore me but I’m intimidated by the stores.

I like stores most of the time because I like a one-stop-shop. Sure, you can get everything from a bunch of counters in one department store, but I prefer to go into one place, grab up everything, checkout once, and go. Plus, I feel awkward going to counters unless I know exactly what I’m looking for, because for some unknown reason, being surrounded by one brand overwhelms me more than being surrounded by a lot of different brands.

Always free standing stores. I like that I can just browse around for a long time and that they are usually connected to other stores like Target or by a Walgreens. I think Ulta being freestanding is one of the main reasons I love it. Sephora is only in malls near me and it seems like a chore to find a parking space. Also if the makeup store is in the middle of the mall it is even worse. Counters are too small and depending on where I go it seems like way to many employees are there lurking for a customer.

I perfer department store because it’s more bands and choices
Before I make dcistion on buying any beauty products I like to compari it different bands to find which is the best one.

It doesn’t matter to me much one way or the other.  I think for me, the important factor is the sales staff. There are counters AND free-standing one brand stores where the staff is pushy and aggressive and I don’t like that sort of pressure. And there are also counters, one brand stores (MAC, for example) and places like Sephora where the staff is lovely, friendly and attentive but not pushy.  So really, for me, that’s what makes the difference. The MAC counter at one Bay store here has lovely staff but at Bay store, every time I’ve been there, the sales associates seem to radiate this air of snooty indifference, as if me purchasing one paint pot or lipstick is unworthy of their time and energy. Needless to say, I will go out of my way to avoid that counter if I can.

Well here we have Sephora, M.A.C and Lush, Hermès, Durance, L’Occitane, the Body Shop and Kiko, Paris is so far away, in Paris I would find all I want but here I go to Sephora and M.A.C for makeup, clearly we have no choice at all.

I find I browse more freely in a store rather than at counters.  Sephora, unfortunately, does not carry many of the brands I use which bites because I like the non-pressured laid back vibe to the shop.  Whenever I go to the Sephora closest to me, I only need to say I do not need help once and then I am left to my own devices.  Counters, on the other hand, provide me with the goods I’m looking for, but I find the doyennes manning the counters full of attitude and just plain freaking annoying.  They seem to lounge around and sigh a lot and look really huffy and supercilious and evil Wendy thinks, you are giving me attitude and you are working at a makeup counter!  I also see a lot of these Venemous Villans spending most of their time looking in the mirror adjusting their own makeup.  Occasionally, you will find a really helpful and enthused SA who really knows their stuff–my best experiences were one particular fellow at a Nars counter in T.O.–but who purchases everything from one counter these days and so it becomes an exercise in buying/paying/going to the next counter and dealing with yet another SA.
When all is said and done, I would rather do my research and browsing on-line at my own leisure and then go ready and armed with a shopping list and tune out everybody and everything else to get the job done as quickly as possible. 
p.s.  Stores are more dangerous on the impulse buy side though so sticking to a shopping list is a must!!

@wwendalynne I get the opposite at counters. I get the SAs who try to push products on me that are so obviously wrong for me, and even when I tell them I don’t do pastels or brights, they tell me I should at least *try* them; I’ve been wearing makeup for over 25 years, and have gone through the many trends, so I kind of have a good idea of whaty I like.

 @xamyx  That’s because I have my evil Wendy face on when I am shopping..  I think I am one of the few women who desperately HATES going out the shop.  I want to dive into my mission and get the hell out asap.  I’ve developed ‘the face’ which generally does not invite people to speak to me.  Oh, and The Face does not work in China or Thailand..  they be impervious and the most persistent people EVER 🙂  I actually loved that about them and found myself laughing a lot of times.

i would prefer if my Nordies had more counters rather than trying to browse through the packed Sephora. I like going to Department store counters because there is always less people and employees who genuinely want to help you.

I prefer stores. For some reason, counters tend to overwhelm me. Plus I hate the way the SA always lurk (at least at the counters near me). Everytime I even pick something up just to look at it, they’re all over me trying to get me to buy it. I hate that! We don’t have Ulta or anything here but we have Sephora and Murale in the malls and I much prefer those kinds of stores. I can browse whichever brands I like and the MUAs leave me alone if I tell them I’m just browsing. Plus, I find that I always find extra little things in stores that you would otherwise miss at a counter that holds just one brand.

I prefer freestanding stores because they usually have the full brand range. Although I still do like stores like Sephora.

I prefer a free-standing store. I like to be able to just browse, put things in my basket, and pay at the counter, with little to no contact with the SAs. I find with counters, once I make contact with the SA, they will try to sell me products I have no interest in. If I’m buying dark, smoky eye products, and I’m wearing all black, why would an SA waste their time pushing pastel eyeshadows on me? Plus, they can’t take “no” for an answer.

I really don’t have a preference as long where ever I’m going has the products I want to purchase.  

Free standing! I really like to browse, maybe swatch a little and whatnot, which I feel like I can’t do at counters. Also at counters I feel so pressured to buy things

omg at sales counters in department stores the sales person is just hovering and watching your every move, i HATE going

I prefer a store. As everyone else is saying, the sales people at counters tend to hover and pressure you into buying stuff. It gets really annoying.

This is really only an issue for me with Mac, seeing as I don’t have free-standing Chanel, Dior or other stores near me. I used to find that the staff at counters was less knowledgeable and pushier, but more recently, I find that it depends more on the individual- there’s nothing really that’s consistent in terms of good or bad points. I know that at The Bay in Canada, there is a lot of pressure for sales people to sign customers up to store programs, which can be annoying, but some counters let that get to them more than others.

I’d say I prefer stores for browsing and wandering in peace…and counters for knowledge and serious research! I hate it when people hover over me and watch me like a hawk when I’m poking around with products and swatching on my hand. If I have a question for you, I’ll ask! Yeesh!

I prefer stores because I can’t stand SA’s at the counters. I’ve been dying to try EL Invisible makeup, but I haven’t brought myself to go to the counter at Macy’s yet because it is such a pain in the neck. I wonder is SA’s realize how uncomfortable they make customers?

@eltscott Sometimes, when I’m just browsing, I walk away as soon as I hear, “May I help you?”, because I know I’ll be hovered over if I even acknowledge them. It wouldn’t be so bad if they actually showed be products I ask for, but for some reason they just want to show me what’s “new”. I wish they would realize they are not only selling the promotional items, they’re not selling *anything*.

I prefer free standing stores, probably because there are so few in Nebraska. You always want what you can’t have. We did finally get a live Sephora store, but they don’t carry the higher end brands you might find in NYC, LA or other large metropolises.
Having said that, I’ve learnt to stalk Christine’s website for things I’m interested in and snap them up online before they sell out. It is rare that I am unable to get hold of something I want, but it would be nice to have a girlfriend to go to an enormous Sephora and spend until my heart’s content. 😀

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