After a Fashion

THE RAVE After experiencing the sickening feeling of having my car die in the middle of Friday evening traffic on Lamar, I learned two things. The first, which I should have already known, is that even when you think you're just going to run out for a minute, you should plan your outfit with the forethought that anything could happen. The second thing I learned, was that if you need a mobile mechanic, call Adam Dollinger at Dollinger Automotive (748-2587). After having left my ailing vehicle parked by the roadside overnight, I looked for a mobile mechanic in the Yellow Pages. After perusing the large display ads from other companies (I always avoid those with huge ads, since I know I'll end up paying for them), I found a much smaller ad, and called. It was 8am, Saturday, and I woke the guy up. I apologized for disturbing him and explained the situation. He asked me a few key questions about my car -- most of which I was unable to answer ("Four cylinders? I have no idea." "Fuel-injected? Uh, maybe"). He says, "Sounds like the alternator." He says he'll pick one up on the way, and be there shortly. After awhile, I met him at my car. He went to work on it, replaced the part, and in less than two hours from the time I woke him up, my car was up and running. I was delirious with surprise and amazement. What great service he provided -- fast, friendly, and efficient. The cost? $50 to come to me, $70 for the part, and $30 for the labor. A very small price to pay for such expert attention. Thank you, Mr. Dollinger -- you're my hero.

THE RANT Here's a lovely little story: A couple of days ago, a woman came into our store and asked for assistance with high-end cosmetics. She was going to a wedding the next day, and wanted to look her best, but didn't like wearing make-up, didn't own any, and wanted someone to help her make the right selections and show her how to apply it. The consultant spent an hour and a half with her, applying it and showing the woman how to do it herself. The woman seemed very pleased and purchased $140 worth of make-up. The day after the wedding, the woman returned to the store and wanted to return every bit of it. As per our usual policy, we asked only if the make-up had been used. "No," replied the woman, "it's just that I got home and all the colors were awful on me. It must have been the light in your store." Okay, no problem. But upon opening some of the packages, it was evident that every single item had been used. The salesperson said, "I thought you said this make-up had not been used." "Well, only what the consultant tried on me." "But, ma'am," said the salesperson, "our consultants use testers -- not the actual product." The woman said, "Well, I tried all the colors on my arm when I got home, and that's when I realized they weren't right for me." BS! The woman obviously wore the make-up to the wedding, and then wanted to return it all, since, as she had previously stated, she didn't like to wear make-up. And, of course, the store had to absorb the entire cost of the woman's dishonesty. It was galling. This was only one incident, one day, in one store. (She probably also returned the dress she wore!) Not only does the store have to pay the salesperson for the time it takes to assist the customer, but is left with product that it has already paid for that cannot be resold or returned to the manufacturer. This is exactly why most small businesses have a strict "no refunds" policy. They'd drown in returns if they had a policy like ours.

ALL WET Tonight, March 7, 7-10pm, Wet Salon (1109 S. Congress) hosts the opening reception for it's new exhibition, 5-4-6. Featuring work from five photographers, the show will be up for six weeks (through April 11). Running the gamut from the exotic to fine art to avant fashion, the show promises to raise eyebrows and body temperatures. Wet just celebrated their second anniversary two weeks ago (congratulations, guys!) with a wild party that I'm very sorry I missed. The party was also in honor of charming stylist Will O'Connell's 30th birthday.

SOUTH BY SOUTH CONGRESS The first annual SoCo Fringe Film Festival happens Monday, March 11, at sundown -- consult your almanac or be there at 6:30pm. A series of previously unreleased films will be shown on the outdoor screen at Jo's Hot Coffee at 1300 S. Congress in beautiful downtown South Austin. Featured will be five films from five categories: animation, documentary, short narrative, trailer, and feature. Local friends, fans, and luminaries, as well as out-of-town and film industry guests are all invited to attend this truly anti-festival festival of independently made film. Hosted by Joel Mozersky (of Club DeVille Fashion Show fame) with musical entertainment provided by Karen Poston, don't miss the panel of snooty film critics, actors and the filmmakers themselves. For more information, call Rebecca Fulton: 441-6127.

FA PRESTO! QUESTO SERA! Tonight, Thursday, March 7, Capra & Cavelli (3500 Jefferson), retailers of impeccable Italian menswear, present Men of Italian Style, 6-10pm. As a benefit for SafePlace, it will be a celebration of Italian food and fashion, featuring many of Austin's renowned Italian chefs as models. Cocktails and signature dishes from premier Italian restaurants such as Asti, the Café at Four Seasons, Carmelo's, Cipollina, La Traviata, and Siena will be served. Tickets are $100 and include a $25 gift certificate to Capra & Cavelli.

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