Hollister Co. and “Hey, what’s up?”

Did you know that we have a Hollister store in Stockholm now (in the Gallerian mall)?  If you’ve never been to one, Hollister is a brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch and is a clothing retailer focused on an immersive concept.  Hollister’s style of clothing can best be described as “surfer town casual” or “SoCal style.” On a side note, I hope that means that Abercrombie will come soon; I rather like their button-up -shirts!

In any case, I went to Gallerian with a buddy of mine on Sunday. (He’s also American)  We first went to Rizzo since I needed to pick up a pair of boots.  I asked the checkout girl (who looked like their target customer) if she’d been to the Hollister store and what she thought of it.

Ja, det har jag.  Jag tycker att det är för trendig.

This was interesting – I hadn’t expected someone in Stockholm to think Hollister was TOO trendy, especially when I think Stockholmers are amongst the most trendy people I know!  I asked her why…

Därför att de måste säga “hey what’s up” när man går in, och de pratar engelska.  Det känns fel.

Okay, now I had to see this store for myself.

My friend and I walked into the store and I made a beeline to the right side of the store, where the men’s clothing are.  A blonde girl – young, probably no more than 22 – smiled and said, “Hey, what’s up?”

I smiled and said “hej” but something did not feel right.  It took me half a second to realize that it was the Swedish accent!  Don’t get me wrong — as I wrote about previously, Swedes speak amazing English, and I rather like the accent.  Even so, it just didn’t feel write to have someone greet you with a commonly used phrase in the “wrong” accent.  We walked around the store for a few minutes and I remember remarking to my friend how the store looks exactly like the Hollister stores in the US.

On our way out of the store, the same girl was standing by the front folding shirts. As we left, she said,

Bye, have a good one now!

That phrase sounded even weirder with her Swedish accent.  I wish they would have just said,

Ha det gott!

It would have worked just as well to convey the lighthearted feeling of the store, and would be more suitable given that we’re in Sweden.

I know that Hollister is requiring their employees to speak these phrases to protect their brand and to maintain a consistent experience for their customers at all of their locations.  But McDonald’s and Starbucks also have stores around the world, and I get the “same experience” at those locations, even if the employees speak the local tongue.  Hollister also has stores in Germany and France; I wonder how those employees sound…

I do want to emphasize that I love how Swedes sound when they speak English, but it just doesn’t seem right in this context.

What do you think?  Should the Hollister employees be required to greet their customers in the same English phrases as they do in the USA?

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