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I decided to really test Clarkes, and my patience, by taking the kids to get new school shoes (and maybe mummy a little something if the funds and our tempers lasted) We took a short trip, after school, into Swadlincote to visit our closest store. We were able to park quickly, easily and for free near to the store and took the short walk.
On approaching the store I did think for a moment that it was closed as the window display was bare, except for sales notices. However, both the doors were open and the shop had a few customers inside. The exterior of the store was very clean, as were the windows . Stepping into the store, there was a busy hum of people browsing the sales racks which had been set up just inside the shop on three large racks. These were well stocked and in logical order with clear signs telling customers sizes and prices. They were also arranged according to gender and style.
We went to the rear of the shop where the children’s section is located and were quickly approached by a friendly member of staff called Sharon (assistant manager) She asked how she could be of help and went to fetch the measuring equipment to check the children's feet. Sharon explained that she had just returned after a two week holiday and in that time “everything had changed” and we were her first customers to have their feet measured using the new method. The children needed to pick a colour from a colour wheel on the iPad, write their age on the pad and then confirm their age by selecting the appropriate number. This all seems a bit unnecessary and the kids were a bit confused by it and felt under pressure and a bit uncomfortable. Their feet were then measured and Sharon checked to see what current size they were wearing. She then encouraged them to have a look at the display of school shoes to see what styles they liked and she checked on her iPad to see if they were in stock.
My daughter selected a couple of styles and my son one ( he had seen it on the Clarke TV advert and knew it came with an app to download and a toy) Sharon tried the first pair of shoes on my daughter, but realised they were too tight, which my daughter agreed with. She then tried the second pair and checked the fitting and asked her to walk in them. My daughter said they were comfortable and Sharon was happy with the fit. My son tried his pair and Sharon checked thoroughly that the fit was correct and explained about the extra protection the shoes had been designed with as boys have a tendency to play football in them. I mentioned that I might be interested in looking for a pair of shoes for a wedding, but that I hadn't bought an outfit yet so didn't know what colour would suitable. Sharon suggested looking on the Sale rack at some “nude” shoes as they would “go with anything” and another sale was made!
We didn't have to queue at the counter and Sharon made some suggestions for shoe care products which were declined and I didn't feel at all under pressure to purchase. She was chatty and didn't get fazed when she realised that the vouchers I presented were new and she had to find out how to process them through the till. We joked that she had better not go on holiday again! She presented the receipt and explained the returns policy and also the opportunity to give feedback about the service that day with the chance of winning £250. I was impressed with the warm and friendly service on offer. The staff appeared to be knowledgeable, the shop was clean, well stocked and the products purchased were very well made and seem to be good quality. I have bought shoes from Clarkes in the past and they have always lasted well
. I would rate my experience at Clarkes in Swadlincote a 5 out of 5 It was just a coincidence that on the day we went to carry out the Mystery Shop, the children's school had launched an appeal for used shoes in aid of Salsshoes a charity who collects shoes on behalf of those in need (Part of Children in Need). The children mentioned this in the shop and Sharon told us that Clarkes runs a similar scheme for UNICEF. We had never heard of this and feel that perhaps it could be better advertised?
I visited the Boots store in the Metro Centre Gateshead. I chose this store as it is larger than my local one and felt I would have a greater choice of products. The store is easily found within the metro centre and very noticeable with an open front as entrance to the store on both upper and lower levels.
The store was tidy and clean on first appearance, no litter could be seen. I started my shop downstairs and I looked around for a trolley knowing I would be buying quite a few things but there were only baskets available. I needed some make-up and hair products so I looked around for signage to identify which area of the shop I needed to be in as it is a vast area. I found that the small signs on the end of each isle were on occasions hidden by the end of isle promotion stands and I had to walk around several isles to be able to see the signs but found myself looking at the type of products on the shelves rather than the signs to identify the hair care isle. I found the make-up section quickly as it is quite a large area.
There were lots of large promotional posters on pillars, walls and hanging from the ceiling. I browsed most of the make-up counters before making my choices, I felt that some of them were a little pricey and found myself drawn to the make I would normally use as they had the better deals. Whilst browsing there was a shop worker filling up one of the sections, she had a little stool with several boxes and baskets around her which blocked my view of the products and she made no attempt to move when I went near. Later when I walked past the shop worker was nowhere to be seen but she had left all her equipment in the isle still blocking the unit.
Next I went upstairs. I felt that the products were all very scattered around the store, there were several 3 for 2 promotional stands with towards the front of the store which caught my attention but I wanted to compare with the other products in the 2 for 3 section. Once I was in the 2 for 3 section I actually forgot about the products I had seen earlier. Most of the shelves were fully stocked although certain isles were very sparse in products which disappointed me and I actually didn’t go up those isles as other ones were more appealing. I bought a few gifts from the 3 for 2 offer but had to make several transactions at the tills to get the best deal available to me.
Whilst walking around the store there were several displays without prices and I had to make several trips to the checkout to ask for a price as there was no staff around. I wanted to ask a member of staff if they had any photo frames and after looking around in several isles I asked and was responded to in a friendly manner with clear directions of how to get to them. I was really happy with my purchases and feel I got more for my money with the mix and match 3 for 2 offers, I was also pleasantly surprised at the prices of the children’s clothes available even more so on the sale items available, I feel I bagged some real bargains! When I went to the checkout there was no other customers and no staff behind the tills either which made me wonder if they were open. I began to look around for alternative checkouts then saw a member of staff return to her till from stacking shelves and she smiled at me saying who is next please? She was very chatty and asked if I had a boots advantage card and if I needed any bags. She didn’t offer to help me pack as I had my own bags with me. Whilst scanning my shopping she commented when items were on the mix and match 3 for 2 offer. When I handed over my vouchers she asked if it would be ok to put the £1.17 change from my vouchers onto a gift card commenting that some customers are a bit funny about it. I would rate my shopping experience a 4 as overall I am happy with my purchases but felt that the lack of pricing on products or shelves annoyed me greatly as I had to go out of my way several times to find them out.
I visited the Royal York hotel, on Saturday the 6th of May the name of the spa that I visited was the 5 senses Spa based in the hotel. The spa is a traditional Thai SPA. When you walk into the reception this is very traditional Thai and the smell of Lemongrass in the burner creates a wonderful smell. The receptionist was very friendly and welcoming. The receptionist asked me to complete a registration form, and then she asked me to put my coat in the cupboard and hang it up, this also included a locker to place my handbag with a key to take with me to the treatment room. The therapist Vicky was very welcoming and I found her to be very knowable about the treatments she was performing. I will definitely visit again. The reception was exceptionally clean, the spa layout consisted of several treatment rooms and was very welcoming. The reception area had a large bookcase that sold several different items which consisted of Facial Products, Massage Oils, Scrubs, Nail Polishes, it was s just a small selection of goods I purchased a bottle of Lemongrass oil as I loved the smell I am now using this in my burner at home, the smell is wonderful I love it. I was the only person there another gentleman came into the reception and booked a treatment.
I asked my therapist if the spa gets busy and she said exceptionally busy with guests, the spa also has a sauna, steam room and outside pool area, which guests can use when purchasing a treatment, they can use the spa facilities pool etc. for an extra £12 The treatment starts with a traditional Thai back and leg firm massage which is very relaxing. • The treatments I opted to have were the Lime & Lemongrass body scrub, this is a 45-minute treatment where my therapist Vicky scrubbed the whole of my body with a Lime and lemongrass essential oils scrub, the scrub is mixed with sea salt and applied firstly to the back of the body starting with the lower legs. Then its removed with hot towels, once it’s all removed, Vicky applied a moisturising cream to my body and massaged in, this made the skin feel replenished, and not dry at all. • The 2nd treatment that I undertook was the Hopi Ear Candling which is also a 45 Minute Treatment. This Treatment was traditionally used by shaman healers and is used to cleanse and harmonise the energy fields this is to remove negative energies, Vicky then applied a sinus massage to my head to drain the sinuses, this is exceptionally good for people with problems with sinuses and their eyes.
A candle is then inserted gently into the ear this is to enhance and clear the sinuses, the therapist said that the ear canal may get hot and you could hear a crackling noise this is the wax in the eardrum softening. I felt my ear get hot but there was no crackling noise that I experienced. The rising air is said to give the eardrum a massage and aids ear pressure in the ear. I did not get any benefit from this procedure it just made my sinuses feel very congested as if I had a bad cold, I had to blow my nose several times to try and ease it it’s been 3 days now and I still feel congested, so unsure when it will clear. I rate my experience as a 5 as it was excellent the treatments were so relaxing a wonderful experience which I thoroughly enjoyed Thank You.