I live in Telford, which has its good points and it’s bad ones, like most places I guess.
As a plus sized woman, one of the downsides is that there are no dedicated plus sized shops here. We used to have an Evans, but that’s long gone.
We’re restricted to supermarkets and Primark – which only goes up to a size 20 if you’re lucky.
I need some tights for tomorrow. I rarely wear tights – and by rarely, I mean never. The nearest plus size shop is Yours in Shrewsbury. I like Yours, but this particular branch has very little in the way of underwear.
I thought I would travel a little further afield. Intu Merry Hill shopping centre is not too far away – as this houses an Evans, a Yours and a Simply Be, I thought I was onto a winner.
After all, I only wanted a pair of patterned tights – how difficult could it be?
First up – Evans.
A big, spacious shop. Very well laid out and friendly staff.
Unfortunately there was only the tiniest selection of tights. An assistant did venture out back, but could only muster one pair of patterned tights in side 14-16. No thanks!
She did point me in the direction of Yours, advised that I’d be looking at paying £14 per pair if I went to Simply Be for tights and suggested Asda as an alternative. (That wouldn’t work – I can fit in Asda clothes, no bother, but not their tights).
A short walk to Yours and this store couldn’t be more different to Evans. A smaller unit, absolutely rammed with stock which only served to make it seem tinier.
For me, the layout of the store was a bit overwhelming- lots of colours, which is bang on trend for Summer, of course – but there was so much stock, that it made finding anything pretty difficult. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason to the way clothes were displayed – separates and dresses mixed ; casual and smarter clothes on the same rack.
One dress did catch my eye, a lace prom style dress with net underskirt. The only colour available in my size was a sort of duck egg blue – I was seriously hankering after the fuchsia pink version – but tried the blue on me on for size.
It fitted perfectly but the colour did nothing for me. Such a shame. Even though “prom dress” wasn’t on my shopping list, I would have found that dress hard to resist if they had had a pink one in my size.
I should also say, the changing room was small – classily decorated, painted black and silver, but very much smaller than I’m used to in Evans and I found the whole process very awkward. Plus the dark decor made it difficult to see how things really looked on.
The selection of tights in Yours was also very meagre. No patterned tights whatsoever, so I had to make do with a plain black pair, costing £10.
Couldn’t fault the staff either, they were welcoming and helpful.
Finally I ventured into Simply Be. Like Evans, a big roomy shop. I’d visited The Exeter branch a couple of weeks ago and had my eye on a pair of denim short shorts – Exeter didn’t have my size – let’s see if Merry Hill did.
Spoiler alert – they didn’t. There were three different pairs of denim short shorts, but they all stopped at size 26.
I asked the assistant nearest to me if they had any bigger – she explained that no, they were only sent stock up to a size 26 “to see how that goes” – before they send any bigger sizes.
For those of you that don’t know, Simply Be claim to cater for sizes 16-32. I don’t know about you, but I can’t work out how they will “see how sales go” with sizes they’re not actually selling? It’s a strange business model…
Anyway, to bring this sorry saga to a close, I tried on all three styles of shorts but none of them fitted.
As I handed them back to the lady staffing the changing rooms, I expressed disappointment that they were too small. She half- shrugged and said “well, if we haven’t got the stock, we haven’t got the stock”. She also suggested I tried “click and collect”, which actually wouldn’t help me as I don’t live anywhere near the store.
I mentioned what her colleague had said about only being sent items up to a size 26 and she actually said “no, you’ve got that wrong”.
She made me feel like it was my fault I was leaving empty handed and at this point I was so frustrated I just wanted to get the hell out.
I didn’t even look at the Simply Be hosiery, but to be honest, by then, I wasn’t really in the mood to give them any of my money even if they had had the patterned tights if been hoping to buy.
I don’t think I’ll be going back to Intu Merry Hill in a hurry. That was not a shopping experience I’d like to repeat.