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Dear Louis Vuitton:

Ever wonder what happened to that discarded Louis Vuitton luggage I found on New Year's Day?  For those of you who don't know what I'm referring to, click *here* prior to reading the letter below.

February 2, 2010

Louis Vuitton

611 Fifth Avenue

NY, NY 10022


Dear Louis Vuitton:

On January 1, 2010, I found some of your discarded suitcases curbside in the West Village came in to possession of two of your vintage pieces of luggage.  While each bag was in need of some good ol' fashioned T.L.C., I felt confident that your company would be able to assist with the restoration and necessary repairs, as I was more-than-willing to put forth the funds for this unique investment.

After some quick research, I learned that your four-story Fifth Avenue boutique had an in-house restoration department.  I could hardly wait for Saturday, January 9th to approach, as this would be the day that I would finally have the luggage appraised.  I had also hoped that one of your employees would be able to tell me just how old these pieces were.    

Saturday, January 9: With a suitcase in each hand (each piece weighing in at approximately 1o and 20 lbs.), I arrived at your Fifth Avenue store minutes before its 10am opening.  Because the weather on this morning was particularly bone-chilling, and for the sheer fact I was toting luggage that was dusty, I came dressed for the occasion (cold weather and dirt): black yoga pants, sneakers, grey-colored Isotoner gloves, my chocolate-brown "puffer" jacket and my hair pulled back in to a ponytail.  Not quite the epitome of fashion.

As the doors were promptly unlocked at 10am, I made my way up to the fourth floor where I was greeted by a stoic woman behind a counter.  "Good morning," I said, "long story short, I found these two suitcases on the side of a street in the West Village.  My assumption is that an older woman died in her apartment, and someone unfamiliar with the value of LV leather goods unknowingly added these to the pile of unwanted items.  Anyways, I'm willing to put forth the investment to have these pieces restored and was hoping that you could help me."  Without so much as stepping out from behind the counter, the woman blankly glanced at me, then down at the bags.  Something about the luggage made her lean over the ledge of her workspace; I assumed that she was just as mesmerized by the pieces as I was.  "Unfortunately, LV does not restore anything that contains mold.  It is a health hazard," she stated.  I put the suitcases on to the ground and observed them closer.  "Mold?"  I asked.  "I'm not quite sure that I know what you are talking about, ma'am.  Can you please show me where you see this?"  The woman finally stepped away from the counter, sighed loudly, and walked towards me.  What I had assumed was a thin layer of dust was, in fact, mold.  "That's the strangest thing I've ever heard," I responded.  "Isn't there someone else that you can ask?  Perhaps they'd make an exception.  My story is quite unique."  She gave me a fake smile and vanished from sight, promising that she'd inquire with her boss.  Seconds later, she returned with the same dire news.  Another employee, who had overheard our conversation, approached.  "My colleague is correct, we do not work on any pieces with mold.  Plus, after 5-10 years, LV discontinues certain types of leather, making this impossible to restore.  I would estimate that these bags are at least 20-30 years old," she added.  "Did you give her Mike's card?" She asked the counter-lady, who responded with a "no."  The sales-woman handed me a business card and said, "although we cannot guarantee his work, this gentleman does do restorations on our products."  I was completely dumbfounded and shocked.  "Thanks," I mumbled.  She then excused herself and wished me the best of luck with my newly-acquired suitcases. 

"Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah choo!"  The stoic counter-lady began dramatically coughing and sneezing.  "Ack!  Ugh," she gasped as she grabbed her chest, "that mold is making me sick!  See how I'm coughing and sneezing?"  Without so much as a "good luck," or "thank you," or "have a nice day," the woman returned to her position behind the counter as I waited, for what seemed like an eternity, for that elevator to approach the fourth floor, take me back to ground-level and as far away from LV as possible.  Also, I had to wonder: could the way I was dressed, and/or the fact that I was honest in divulging how and where I acquired the bags have played a role in the treatment I received?  Vivian Ward, is that you I hear?  "Big mistake.  Big!"
With a suitcase in each hand, I fled the boutique with as much speed and adrenaline as a bank robber.  It's times like these when I truly miss the warmth of the South.  No, scratch that: it's times like these that remind me how DONE I am with paying to be treated like total shit. 

As I found myself standing outside on the corner of frigid cold street and Fifth Avenue, shocked and fuming with anger, I remembered that I had a list of errands to run.  "What the hell am I going to do with two heavy suitcases?  Should I just take them home?  Maybe I should just leave these old things on the street!  If LV can't restore them, then who can?"  And then, just like that, a light bulb of hope burst in my head.  "Leather Spa!"

Located just beyond Fifth Avenue on 55th Street stands a shrine to all-things-leather.  I first came in to contact with the "Leather Spa" when I had to get the delicate elastic band on my brand-new, sky-high Christian Louboutin sling-backs tightened.  After nothing short of a miracle was successfully and affordably performed, I have since become a very loyal Leather Spa customer.  "Can you help me?"  I asked amidst panting.  "I just had the worst experience.  LV claimed that there was nothing they could do to help me restore these bags, and that they were unworkable because of mold."  The friendly Leather Spa employee grinned, "Of course we can restore these!  The mold can be scraped off.  We will water-proof the exterior, clean the interior, and get these back in to shape.  I will call you as soon as we have a plan-of-attack, price and estimated work time."  I literally had to restrain myself from jumping over the counter and hugging this man.  As tears began to well up in my eyes, I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and proceeded on with my day's errands, sans suitcases.  I was confident that I had left the luggage in the best hands possible.    

Here are some pictures of what the suitcases looked like pre-restoration:

Me and my new-found treasure! Note the dust on the suitcasesMe and my new-found treasure! Note the dust on the suitcase      

And here are some pictures of what the suitcases currently look like post-restoration:

Lookin' good!! Thank you, Leather Spa!Lookin' good!! Thank you, Leather Spa!

To end on a fair note, I will say that LV makes one hell of a good product.  The company's leather goods truly do stand the test of time, and these gorgeous pieces of luggage are no exception.  Now, if only I could say the same for the customer service I received...



The Lunch Belle

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Reader Comments (2)

Amazing story -- amazing young lady!!!!!

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCJM

These bags are like Gucci

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergerovital H3

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