“Talk about your trunk space!”
No secret here, but I am a fan of most things Disney. Maybe not the current incarnation of the Disney Channel (being outside the desired demographic), but pretty much everything else that the company does. So I was rather surprised when my commute seatmate informed me that The Disney Store had landed in Livermore. While we once had a nice Disney themed store in “Where The Magic Begins”, pickings have been pretty slim as of late out in the Tri-Valley for fans of the Mouse.
Facing the traffic escaping the valley in advance of the oncoming holiday weekend, I chose instead to travel some back roads home. And one of those? Yup, it passed right by the new location of The Disney Store. Livermore is home to the San Francisco Premium Outlets. So I did the inevitable and turned into to the parking lot. This center opened several years ago and I had only visited once since; that being earlier this year, in search of a bowtie to match a seersucker jacket I planned to wear to a niece’s wedding.
Now being that this store is located in an outlet mall, I did not know exactly what to expect. Previously, there had been a series of outlet stores in various locations around the Bay Area. Those were not part of the Disney company, but resellers closing out true surplus materials. Think specifically dated t-shirts for theme parks or under performing film merchandise. Would you believe a Tarzan loin cloth key chain? (No, I will spare you the photo…) There were a few bargains but most items were “priced to sell” in the hopes that a visit to the store would entice you to open your wallet or bend that plastic card of choice.
This retail location is not one of those. It is not truly an outlet store. What it is, despite appearances to the contrary, is just another location for The Disney Store. At least, that is the impression I got when I walked inside. It is laid out much like other Disney store locations in shopping malls. Merchandise for boys on the right, girls on the left. A video wall behind the registers at the rear of the store. To be fair, there was a small rack of clearance merchandise in the rear of the store on the right. But despite signs in the windows, most of what I saw was at regular prices. Adult merchandise consisted of a select group of t-shirts and some sleep shirts/pants.
And no signs anywhere of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens event this morning. I also had no interactions with the Cast Members on duty. No greeting, no “Can I help you?” Just a few comments back and forth using headsets between each other. This may have been a quiet Thursday afternoon, but there were less than 10 customers (including myself) in the store.
Of all I saw in the store, the plush elephant from Aladdin was about all that caught me eye. I even picked it up and looked at it in more detail. But nothing enticed me to purchase it. Certainly not the price, with no reduction or discount noted. And for the record, I have visited a Disney Store recently (in the Sun Valley Mall in Concord) and purchased several items including a plush Bing Bong character from the Pixar film, “Inside Out”. Oddly enough, there was little merchandise on sale from that film at the Livermore location. More Star Wars and Marvel items for the boys, along with Frozen and other girl skewed items to match. The plush Abu as an elephant was surrounded Jasmine and other Aladdin items.
Again, I know I fall outside of the demographic for the audience for The Disney Store. In a small way, that makes me sad. I know The Disney Store is not what it once was. The whole idea of a greeter on duty at the entrance to the store once seemed revolutionary. It likely had an effect on loss prevention, once upon a time in some locations. But that kind of magic that one felt about entering a part of Disney? Sadly missing. Missing for some time, back to when Children’s Place took over the operations of many stores. Missing back to the time when Cast Members were encouraged to speak with guests and share the love for all things Disney. Not just interaction when it comes time to gather the disposable income, remind customers of other spending opportunities and here is a discount coupon for that next time…
Just another time with the terminally nostalgic here.