The amount of times I searched for backpacks & rucksacks on the internet will probably amount to 90% of the previous months searches – well, not last month because we’ve got them now – but a few slender months ago in the second quarter of the year both Franca and myself were desperately looking for the best backpack/rucksack for us.
We’d read the ‘What To Buy’ Guides & ‘We Recommend’ posts from other people, we’d also read all of those little snippets of information that you catch on various forums and the tweets that fly by, so we very much felt extremely clued up & ready to make the move towards purchasing our first & only permanent backpack house & wardrobe system.
So we took the train to our closest city, Birmingham. Once there, having scoured over Google Maps & various other recommendations, we went from small shop to small shop, to moderately costly & excessively expensive larger brands and came out the darker side of the day completely fed up with shopping, crowds & almost each other, whilst remaining completely backpack-less. We’re not natural born shoppers. That and for a major city, Birminghams choice was a lot smaller than we had anticipated.
So now having returned home rather disappointed & with no local shops to scavenge through that we’d not already scrounged through once before; we had to make some smart decisions.
Order online or travel even further to try some rucksacks before we buy?
So we went to London.
It wasn’t the toughest decision we’d had to make over the last 12 months, we’d already decided to leave our jobs, sell all of our belongings & get travelling. In comparison , this was – as we say in the UK – small fries.
So I took the Saturday off from working at the record store, we both made notes of the shops that mattered most & drew them all into a A-Z Atlas I’d bought from a charity shop for a £1 out of a fear that relying on my iPhone & it’s dodgy battery, was an almost certain disaster.
As it turned out, most of the big name brands & indie’s that we wanted to go & see were within a few hundred metres of each other, in the newly christened ‘Camping Corner’. One of ANGLOITALIAN’s finest moments.
So one dreamy eyed Underground journey later, we arrive at our first destination – Snow+Rock. First on the list, not just for the big name & wealth of backpacks on offer, but primarily that it was one of two not to be found in ‘Camper Corner’ but, instead, a few tube journeys away.
We checked the A-Z, got our barings (Franca – Not that we needed it, Dale’s like a walking compass & map combo) & walked less than 40 yards to Snow+Rock. Walk in & it’s as you’d expect; wall to wall backpacks & rucksacks, shoes of all materials and sizes & enough kendel mint cake to choke a giraffe. Within, say 1min20 tops, we’re approached by a young Snow+Rock representative who’s sheepishly shy but keen to help. Without too much persuasion we’re looking through the wall of backpacks, day bags & rucksacks and trying to remember all those pieces of information, like; try to get a vented back, don’t go super-duper large but don’t go super small either & especially don’t pay attention to those wheelie-backpacks. You’ll be carrying the weight of the wheels before than the weight of your socks & everything else.
So I’ve picked up a medium sized bag dressed in my favourite colour – fascinating blue.
SHEEPISH REP: ‘xcuse me, that’s a Ladies backpack.
ME: Oh, yep, of course. I was just looking for…
Arse of myself, I had made.
So we tried on a number of backpacks, tried them empty & then tried them with weights in – highly recommended. We walked around the shop, forward to back. Got a feel for the bounce of the bag (if any). Got some good instruction on how to put the backpack on each time, how to adjust the straps on the backpack, etc. All useful advice that you only really get from someone directly face-to-face, the kind of tips you get from someone who knows because they’ve been there themselves & the kind of all around service that, having worked in retail for 10+ years, you’d like to receive yourself. The service that we received felt like the level of service that people have come to associate with the Apple Store. Kind, caring, putting you first.
So we left.
We made some notes of names & prices, said some goodbyes & set off towards rucksack heaven/’Camper Corner’. We didn’t leave because we were dissatisfied by the rucksacks or the shop, just wanted to see that we didn’t miss out of anything else worthwhile, plus, we needed to price check too. When you’re travelling, you never know when you might see a paycheck again.
So, ‘Camper Corner’ it is & they’re all closer to each other than we’d imagines. There were 7,8 maybe 9 shops there. Some were cheap outlets of the same brands on the same street. There were two from one company, two of another, two semi-independents, one or two others…
…and Ellis Bringham.
Now all of the other shops turned out as a bit of a disappointment. Almost each & every one of them had the same small list of backpacks & day packs that we’d seen in Birmingham, some even had half of the amount that the shops back at home in Leamington stocked. Each one ticked off, only one left to go.
I’m sure you can tell already that with Ellis Bringham, there’s a tale to tell.
In Ellis Bringham there were two floors full of the outdoors lovers treasures, hiking shoes, tents, kendel mint cake, etc. On the lower basement floor there was an incredible spread of backpacks, rucksacks, day packs, baby-carrying backpacks (which we saw being modeled by a really cute kid), dry bags & sleeping bags. Amongst the rows of bags we’re three employees, two receiving department rotation training which I recognized, and one ‘head’ who was giving them hypothetical situations to handle. So we stept over.
Franca asked him few questions & requested some recommendations. One or two were picked up & tried, very much the same process we’d experienced at Snow+Rock. So far so good.
And then he walked off. No “I’ll be back in just a sec”. Nope. He walked off. As I was sitting I’d seen the whole event unfold.
Just prior to our store colleague disappearing a young gentleman walked up to him and offered out a hand to shake. They clearly knew each other & must not have seen each over for the many-many months as our ‘helper’ continued to speak in length with this ‘chum’. Gradually, he started to stroll over to another part of the store whilst still talking with this long-since-seen friend, completely unaware of Franca struggling to understand just what was going on & why the guys instructions and words of wisdom had stopped.
Finally, I let her know what was going on. It must have been at least five minutes before we thought “hey, he’s really not coming back is he?”. Apparently not. He failed to notice that Franca was looking for his help, he also failed to notice when she took it off, put it down, grabbed her stuff & started to walk out of the door.
Not for the longest time have I been on the receiving end of such bad service. If I was buying a new pair of shoes, maybe, I would have just dealt with it, found someone else & got the size I wanted, made the sale & headed home. Not this time. We were on the verge of spending between £3-400 on two bags. If I’d seen someone I was employing misrepresenting me, my company & the team that all worked together for each other – instant dismissal.
Don’t serve people how you wouldn’t like to be served yourself – or cough up the £400 you just lost me.
So to cut along story short, this happened:
That’s right. We went right back to the beginning. We went back to Snow+Rock and bought the two backpacks/daypacks that suited us the most:
The feeling we got from the service at Snow+Rock was that they cared. They cared because they wanted to, they cared because maybe they’d had the same kind of experiences at other retailers. However they decided to serve people, it certainly worked for us on that occasion & we’re incredibly grateful.
NOTE – This post is NOT a ‘Sponsored Post’. This post was written because of the outstanding service we received from Snow+Rock when we went to buy our backpacks. We feel that all of our friends should get the service they deserve from a company that cames.