Thursday, November 6, 2008

Citi Trends: Keepin' it Real Ghetto

Citi Trends: Keepin' it Real Ghetto

Let me say from the jump off. I like Citi Trends clothing store. Where else can you get a fresh new outfit, a black history book and jam to the hits of the '80's all for under $25? And the staff are real cool people, always smiling and real friendly, like a black version of Mayberry.

But I ain't feelin' their security system.

When you walk up to the store, the first thing you notice is two warning signs about surveillance. Now if that isn't enough to make you do an about face and head to the nearest Wal Mart, as soon as you walk through the doors you're greeted by a boomin' sound system that warns you that your activities are being monitored. (I guess, this is for the benefit of those who were illiterate and couldn't read the signs, outside.)

When Citi Trends first opened up, they use to have Officer Friendly posted at the front door eyeballin' you when you tried on the $3 baseball in the hat bin. But now Barney Fife has been replaced by a high tech ghetto security system.

The first time that I heard the system, I thought that I was going to have to empty my pockets and assume the position.

I know that people do steal and I guess some measure of security is necessary but check this out.

Citi Trends prides itself on being "fashion for less" and caters to the hip, Hip Hop crowd. They offer trendy, name brand clothes that would cost an arm and a leg at the mall for swap meet prices. Also, most of their clientele, at least in this area, seem to be black and Latino youth. (I can't remember seeing any white kids in there, not even the Eminem clones that listen to Lil Wayne on their Ipods.)

So am I saying that their customer demographic has anything to do with the extra security precautions? When is the last time that you had to pass through metal detectors at the Gap or Old Navy ?

I rest my case.

Also, this is a discount store, for goodness sakes! Robbin' Citi Trends is like swipin' stuff from the Goodwill.

Maybe, I am a little overly sensitive. But like many black folks, I remember being followed around toy stores as a child and record stores as a teenager. Even today, when I sport my baseball cap and hoody, I still, once in a while, notice that one of the clerks just happens to be looking for the latest Dead Prez CD at the same time that I am.

I can't help to think what the average black teen who comes into Citi Trends thinks when he hears the security alarm blastin' in his ears? Maybe he just ignores it or maybe it makes him feel like a no good low life who will always be perceived as a criminal. Even in a discount store.

Maybe I am over reacting and taking this thing too far...

But until they start putting guard dogs in front of Aeropostal...

Citi Trends needs to chill !

Paul Scott's blog is He can be reached at (919) 451-8283