H&M: Hyped & Mediocre.

We were so excited! The mecca of cheap and cheerful clothing had finally come to a Mall Near Us! Women who had lived in other cities told tales of six-dollar shirts and ten-dollar handbags scored at H&M. Someone pointed to her cute pants, remarking that they had been a bargainous fifteen dollars. Reflecting that I might finally get away from my usual thrift-shop sensibilities, I made the plan, a month ago, to trek out to the H&M in Coquitlam with a carload of women.

What a disappointment! First, the fashion looked like it was designed by people from Iowa who had read about Goth culture, but never witnessed it firsthand. You know, they get the general idea, but don’t have the specifics dialed: Racks and racks of black smock-front shirts were crammed together with hot-pink and mustard-striped sweaters. Bins of vinyl wristlets vied for space against racks of gold-plate hoop earrings. Boring black blazers abounded.

Second, nothing was on sale. Prices kind of hovered between Gap and Old Navy: Twenty dollars for a William Morris smock top, thirty dollars for a sweater. Twenty four for polyester pants. No bargains there. So much for the miracle of H&M.

We trooped back into the city disappointed, but a little wiser: If a store seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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