Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Untimely Death of My Own Crate and Barrel

You know how Holly Golightly used to cruise Tiffany’s to cheer herself up? Well, I used to cruise Crate & Barrel for the same kind of therapy, and now my heart is thoroughly broken because the one I used to go to has died.

I didn’t even know it was sick. And, since no one bothered to notify me, I discovered its death only by accident while looking on line for something to buy for a friend's birthday. Not that I would have bought anything I hadn’t seen and fondled in person--I just wanted to get my shopping brain humming before heading off to the store. And then there it was:

Hillsdale Shopping Center
101 Hillsdale Shopping Center 
San Mateo, CA 94403

After more than 15 years, our lease at Hillsdale has ended and this location is now closed. We thank all our friends and neighbors for your continued loyalty over the years. We hope you to see you at our Union Square and Stanford Shopping Center stores. Or shop us 24/7 at 

Union Square? Are they kidding? That isn’t therapy, that’s death by parking. And the Stanford store is death by enormity. As for online shopping, let me just say that if Holly Golightly were with us today, I don’t think she’d be ordering tiaras from home.

No, the Hillside store was the perfect refuge for my pulverized self. It was small enough (one floor!) not to be overwhelming, close enough (ten minutes away!) to facilitate my fast, frequent fixes, plus it had easy (and not underground like a damn car coffin) parking. And, unlike Kohl’s (see previous post), it had employees. Not just employees, but women so consistently kind I never felt weird about spending six years floating around before finally buying a ten dollar vase. Or, as happened more often, spending six years drinking in the warmth of their glimmering merchandise and then, duly soothed, just going home.

Not to say I never bought anything. Looking around in my blurry-eyed grief, I see how thoroughly my dead Crate & Peril has beautified my environment: My “apartment-sized” couch in warm terra cotta. (Okay, Pretend Husband Hank Fitz and I had to go to Stanford to order it, but that’s only because Hillside did not do couches.) My sheer linen curtains that turns my windows into glowing persimmons. (Okay, I had to get those on-line but that’s only because they weren’t stocked in the stores.) The book case that made sense of my bedroom, the baskets that made sense of its shelves, my drinking glasses with their festive red feet, my perfect sautee pan, and oh my god, the great dead botanicals!  And the stupid sleek stones in which they are anchored, and the way they glisten through their vase of teal glass!

And talk about customer service! Did they look even one iota askance when I brought back my Simple Human compact dish rack and asked why the spout no longer worked (Pretend Husband Ed Head had broken it but never mind)?  No, they smiled gently and gave me a new one.

Ditto when I had to explain that I could no more locate this place they called Pick-Up than find my way through the Minotaur’s labyrinth, and thus needed—but seriously, needed—one of their Pick-Uppy he-men to find me instead and carry my unwieldy wall shelf (42 inches and 4,000 pounds) out of the store and into my car. Again, they did not report me to the Insanity Police, they just called the he-man and did it.

Yeah, I know: It’s only a store and stores sell only things, and as we all know, things aren’t important. And, lest we forget: Every day a little death. 

Who wrote that death part? Oh yeah, Cranky-Pants Sondheim. At least he hasn't died yet.  Or not that I know of.  And if you've heard otherwise, then please--really, I'm begging you, please--don't ever tell me.


  1. I had the same experience a few years ago when the downtown SF Crate & Barrel closed ... there's still a Sur la Table in the Ferry Building, but the bookstores are closing left and right. The times they are a-changin' ...

  2. Yes, I did hear of the beloved glassy corner c&b death, and was shocked; what other reason to go shopping at Hillsdale. Certainly not the evil cave that Restoration has become: a museum of recycled wood things that cost more than I make in a year....