Riker: My experience perusing Bath & Body Works with 20 bucks


John Riker/Daily Senior Staffer

Gameday Editor John Riker poses with a holiday haul. Riker visited Bath and Body Works with 20 bucks, seeking redemption for last year’s trip and a good time.

John Riker, Gameday Editor

Mission accomplished.

One year ago, I attempted to buy a full outfit from Macy’s for less than 20 dollars and failed, nobly. The ill-fated excursion dealt a staggering blow to my confidence, but earlier this month, Holiday Guide Editor Nicole Markus offered me a chance at redemption.

The second time proved to be the charm. I found a red and white dress shirt in my exact size and on a major discount, making it a perfect fit for Holiday Guide editing night. Just 25 minutes after entering the store, I purchased the shirt and sat on a bench waiting for the CTA bus, feeling like Thanos with his Infinity Stones at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.” 

Yet I felt unfulfilled. The lessons about high-end retailers and fashion that made my previous search so resonant had eluded me on my second go-around, replaced by brazen materialism. So I stood up, walked toward the heart of Westfield Old Orchard mall and headed to a store that had long piqued my interest — Bath & Body Works. 

I embraced my fresh start, but this store was not exactly in my Q Zone and would certainly pose a challenge. I didn’t know exactly the type of products that Bath & Body Works sells, and the line of prospective shoppers extended out the door, raising the stakes and the pressure. The soothing vibes assuaged my fears when I made my way inside, but the immaculately organized displays intimidated me. I had a reasonable budget at my disposal, but no direction to my approach.

A couple minutes later, the outlook of my afternoon changed dramatically. An employee named Peter approached me and asked if I was looking for anything specifically, and I responded that I was just browsing around. Then, I reversed course. I explained my situation and told him the objective — to collect some high-quality, holiday-themed products with a budget of 20 dollars — and hoped for the best. 

Peter loved the idea and we set off to fill my basket with six of the best, most festive Bath and Body Works products. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

First up, the soaps. Peter recommended the displays as a way to work in both holiday-inspired and more general scents and work within the budget. He even said I could smell the different products to help in my decision, and I was more than happy to oblige. We agreed that a touch of variety would be a smart move, so I added a Rose Water & Ivy foaming soap and a Winter Candy Apple hand sanitizer to imbue my apartment with the holiday spirit.

Next, the candles. Peter was up front with me that the candles, one of the most popular items in the store, might exceed the tight price range. However, he also pointed out that in journalism, things are allowed to be off the record. I agreed — the graphite-scented candle would be a great gift for my family and I could leave it out of the article so that Nicole wouldn’t find out. I added the candle and another off-the-record recommendation to my basket.

Peter continued to enlighten me on the nuances of potential items of interest, from aromatherapy soaps to bath products. Whereas the eclectic fabrics of Macy’s appealed to my sense of touch, Bath & Body Works products won over my heart through my sense of smell. For the last stop, we touched the final frontier of the store, the aloe gels and body washes by the checkout counter. Peter introduced me to my favorite scent of the day — the Dream Bright aloe gel — and recommended a portable lavender hand gel to round out the haul. 

At last, another mission accomplished. Peter reminded me that multimedia is an essential part of journalism as well, and he graciously took a picture of me with the six products in front of the most colorful display in the store. Then, we shared a heartfelt handshake ,and I thanked him for his time and for sharing his thorough knowledge of Bath & Body Works.

On the CTA bus ride home, I played “An Evening With Silk Sonic” through my headphones and tallied up my four on-the-record items, the soap, full-size sanitizer, gel and pocket hand sanitizer, to see if I’d hit the mark. The final total, including tax: 19 dollars.

But the true haul went beyond those 19 dollars and the lovely wintertime scents. There’s no putting a price tag on my Bath & Body Works experience that day, from the sheer range of aromas I sampled to a much-needed submersion in the holiday spirit to the most wonderful surprise of all, the brotherhood formed between two guys on a quest.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jhnriker

Related Stories:
Svirnovskiy: My experience perusing Urban Outfitters with 20 bucks

Riker: My experience perusing Macy’s with 20 bucks