Well, I visit RB about once a week as it is conveniently placed between my work place and the Hospice Shop. The George Street location was a modest sized store and reasonably well laid out. The vintage and retro items were inside the front door on the left and the retro skirts and tops were on a round stand at waist height so I found it easy to look at everything. Now, in the not so new location, things are not to my liking.
The shop is on three levels - the main entrance is up a few steps and is more like a lobby rather than a room. This is wear the $4.50 rack is placed, so I can at least see it from the street. Also in this space is the rack of retro inspired new stuff which does not appeal to me as it is basically made in china knockoffs. Access to the 2 other areas is from here. There is a very rickety set of stairs with worn shallow treads which I personally feel like I am going to fall down everytime I use them. Oh and everything has been painted a light blue colour which makes me feel cold.
The second level is upstairs and is jam-packed full of clothes. The vintage and retro area is now a rectangular stand - still at waist height. Most of the other items are on double racks along the walls. I find it tiring to reach up and look for clothes, and because items are jammed in together closely its often quite tricky to pull an item out enough to look at it without pulling out other items by mistake. Hence, I don't really look at anything else. I walk along the racks looking at the fabrics for any hint of something interesting. The retro items are mainly more than $10 and occasionally there is a dress or two which are priced at $23.50 Nothing has screamed BUY ME, BUY ME for months. But I like to look.
Yesterday I made my foray into the freshly opened "Bargain Basement". The first thing I noticed was the smell. RB is not a thrift shop, its a sell on behalf shop. In a thrift shop is it expected that items will smell old or fusty. However, I could not work out if the smell came from the clothes or from the room in general. A mid sized de-humidifier was placed in the far corner but it was not turned on. Again, the room had two rows of racks meaning that I was looking slightly upwards at the second higher rack of clothes and I did not realise that the floor is very uneven and I mis-placed my foot and stumbled. Now its an old building, and it has character, but after all the earthquakes in Christchurch I can't help thinking that this particular building is probably not the safest. I have spoken to the previous tenant - a cool comic shop which is no relocated into Princes Street - and was told that the building was in bad condition.
Aside from my concerns about the physical space of the store, I consider the service to be borderline. Rarely am I acknowledged when I am in the store, sometimes I am glanced over, once or twice I have initiated a conversation with the sales assistant and with less than adequate replies. In no way was I assisted to make a sale.
Here are a couple of quotes from the aptly named "Clothing Guidelines" section of the website.
Bring us appealing, fashionable items.From my observations "fashionable" is interpreted as current season clothing. What the RB statement really means is: Timeless classic pieces tend to be keepers and therefore this season's Glasson's dress or Supre top is what RB want to buy from you.
Would you buy it? If the answer's no, chances are our customers won't either.Using this logic I conclude RB would probably buy nothing from me, ergo chances are I won't be shopping there!
All in all, I am not much of a fan of RB. I bought a few things from the $4.50 rack a year ago or more. RB is merely a stopover on my pilgrimage to the Hospice Butterflies shop in the same street.