Tuesday 18 March 2008

Bathrooms at Total Wine Orlando Share Stink of Total Wine Raleigh

Total Wine & More - Orlando
2712 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL USA 32803

Where is it?

Unlike Total Wine in Raleigh, the bathrooms here do not require the visitor to venture through the entire store and past the cashiers before being granted the privilege of accessing them (meaning you don't have to buy something to use them).

Simply enter the warehouse, turn right at the first corner you see and head past the coolers on your right. A hallway will open up on your right; it leads to the bathrooms, employee break room, and stocking areas for those coolers.

What's it like?

This branch of the mammoth wine, booze and beer megastore chain has a similar design to the Raleigh store, though this one has a wider floor plan than than that one, which was longer than it was wide. Isles don't stretch on for yards and yards here, though it does seem to take an exceedingly long time to walk from one side of the place to the other. The selection, like the Raleigh store, is top-notch, though because of Florida's sin-tax import taxes, you won't find as many hard-to-find items here that you would in Raleigh (like the wonderful Luksus beer from Latvia, which isn't available in Florida because of those laws).

Like Raleigh, the place is a little frenetic and purposefully intimidating to visit -- almost as if they know you will have to ask someone for help, one way or the way. However, be warned: That help can be dubious. A recent visit here, for some wine, led us to several mismatched recommendations. We were looking for some pinot noir from Oregon, which we really like, but we didn't know what brands to buy because the ones we drink normally have been given to us from people out of state and at the moment they are unavailable in Florida. The staff member assigned to help us hadn't heard of the vineyards we said we liked, and instead of admitting fault or working with us, she kept suggesting we try merlot. We don't mind merlot -- we're not "Sideways" snobs, after all -- but as anyone who knows wine will tell you, there's a major difference between pinot and merlot, and it wasn't what we were looking for. So, knowing that, each subsequent visit we have made to this store requires us to do some background checking beforehand.

Anyway, the store's frenetic nature finds its way into the bathrooms as well -- though chances are you won't be asking a clerk for help in that department. (At least I hope not!) These are small facilities -- one toilet stall, one sink, one urinal with a modestly sized walk-in area. It's somewhat clean, though I did find a few mis-thrown paper towels and some spilled water on the floor.

Decor-wise, it's on par with the Raleigh store. There are no wall hangings or decor here, just drywall -- though the beige walls do make a better impression than the bland white of the Raleigh store. Also on had are beige urinal dividers and stall doors and an inviting wood-colored linoleum tile on the floor.

Despite those changes, though, the facilities don't smell much better than the Raleigh location. The stink of urine is still pretty sharp here -- I'm assuming it comes with the territory, since the staff is supposed to sample the merchandise (I'm guessing?) as a means to become familiar with it and that in turn creates the need to urinate. (I'm hoping it's that and it's not some corporate thing..... Please tell me it's not a corporate thing.) Still, an air freshener or two, or even some spray, would be very helpful.

On top of this, the noise factor inside the bathroom is remarkably high -- no doubt the result of putting the toilets next to the break room and the restock areas for the nearby coolers (a design flaw that reminds me a lot of the issues I had with Roasters and Toasters in North Miami Beach). So while the place will certainly suffice for longer visits, it isn't nearly as peaceful or idyllic as, say, a glass of Oregonian pinot noir.

Marks out of 10:

5. A notch higher than the Raleigh store but still nothing more than a "use as needed" facility.

Comments to the Management:

Like my suggestions to the Raleigh store, adding some decor to the walls -- even if it's just the weekly circular -- would make the place more inviting. Also, some air fresheners would be welcome. Finally, and I'm not sure if there's an easy, inexpensive way to fix this because of the building's construction, but consider putting in a sound buffer between the break room, cooler restock hallway and bathrooms.

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