Saturday, August 29, 2009

Customer Quote of the Month

Last week, there was a woman shopping for accessories for her new house. She was buying a doormat and when she was checking out said, "I don't know if I want to leave it outside. I don't know yet if I have shitty neighbors. They might take the doormat."

Her male companion tried to dismiss her fears. He reminded her that it was a good neighborhood.

Wherein she dismissed his notion of niceties. "Rich people steal shit too." Then she turned to us behind the counter and said, "I'm sure you guys know that."

It was sort of awesome. Her voice was loud and the store was busy. Others heard her. It is the sort of thing a customer can say, but clerks cannot. In the fantasy world that we perpetuate, the customer is not just right, but saintly. When a regular customer is grifting, stealing, or swindling, they are in a state of denial, most likely practiced and justified to themselves beforehand.

Our Loss Prevention Professional says that 1 in 5 customers is a casual shoplifter. So someone is doing it, cause "shit" disappears.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Clerk is right again.

Nearly every day, there is a customer that claims they saw a product at our store.

First question: what did it look like and what did it do? It's a big store and easy to get turned around. Product could be anywhere! But sometimes the customer's description is not good enough (an expanding butcher's block, like a pile of limes, a vegetable shaver (but not a peeler) and when you show them what you think they want, it is not the right thing. Then you have to ask them the

Second question: where did you see it? They will lead us to some corner and say "It was right here!!" And we will go through past displays in our minds and list themes and product. If you can't figure it out that way, it is time for the

Third questions: when did you see it? This question is less about finding the product and more about gently beginning to tell them that they are confused and mix-up. "It was here 2 days ago!" they might say and I can say "so was I. And the display hasn't changed since then." It may frustrate them, but it is the truth. The truth is better. Instead of playing the "is it this?" game and never getting results, I can move onto the

Fourth question: did you see it here? I will ask them and you will see them thinking and quite often, they DID see it somewhere else. Mystery solved.

But there are those tough cases that claim they saw some weird product just yesterday, as though yesterday means anything. They get so mad at my uselessness. Why can't I reveal the item that is in their mind!?

The fact is that I am at work full time. I spend all of my quality, waking life looking at the shelves and touching product. When I am not helping customers, I am pacing the aisles and looking at every crevice, reading every box and brochure, and even looking at past, discontinued items in the computer. So if that Thing you want is here, I will know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dust catcher

At work yesterday, I was marking down some stemware. There were these very tall, dramatic wine glasses and they were coated with dust. It was the wineglass that I dropped my first week of work: clumsy new girl, me, backed into a rack of fragiles and one of them fell. I can still see it, in slow motion, falling from the top. But the glasses are tempered in 3 places, and it bounced once it hid the floor. I was saved from humiliation.

I thought about buying one for nostalgic reasons. It is a funny story to tell, especially when you are holding the big delicate glass, but I try to be careful about buying things at work because I am bored or feel I want something to keep a memory. I lifted the glass towards my lips in a mock sip. If the glass felt comfortable, I might consider buying it.

Instead of red wine notes, I got a nose full of dust. I was not even inhaling. Suddenly the whole situation felt clumsy and cheap and I felt that I had been trying to sell the glass to myself. If I had one glass that was simply a story prop, that would be quite a boring story after awhile. And if I spent an hour's wages on a piece of stemware, it would make that glass too precious. My life does not need complicated stemware.

I hate the smell of dust.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A t.v. show that makes me excited to go to work

My friends and I have been watching past episodes of The Apprentice UK. It actually makes want to go to work and sell shit to people.

I am so glad I didn't kill my television.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I went to work yesterday chipper and with a positive attitude, though anxious because I had a lot of errands to run on my lunch break.

Two of the earliest customers were Canadian woman, friends, shopping together. They were dressed up for a day out and one of them was dancing as she shopped and singing along with the oldies music that we were playing. It reminded me of one of the model quotes in the Boden catalog I'd been looking through the night before. Something like, "if I could go back in time: I would dance more." And why not?, I thought as I watched the customer shimmy through the aisles. Dancing is fun, right? Ladies love to dance. Look at how the customer is having so much fun!

I rang up the dancing lady. While I was wrapping her glass jars in paper to cushion them, I felt spiritual and sisterly; why shouldn't we dance when we want to and be a little wacky? We have so little time in life. Why shouldn't I be happy for womankind when they can grab some moments of joy and dance and sing?

Then I realized I was still at work. It had become busy all of a sudden and I was by myself, so I helped people in the order I saw them appear. My co-worker came and helped me ring everyone up. Dancing lady was at the counter again. Her bags were on the counter in front of her.

We are not sisters, dancing lady and I; she is the customer and I am the clerk. So why should I be surprised when she too took on a bit of superior attitude when I asked if she needed anything else? Her response, though seemingly harmless, was terse and seemed to say "do not attempt to KNOW what I NEED, retail store worker."

I do not know if I over-analyse every word that comes out of customers' mouths or if I have become very good at reading people and detecting lies and fake emotions.

Probably both.

I can help the next person in line!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Precious Customer Moments; Clerk Sarcasm

- The older couple with the matching cargo vests. The wife was wandering through the store yelling "EUGENE!" Much less tacky would be to have a lost-mate whistle. Or a cell phone.

- The young girl shopping with her mom and wearing a halter hoodie. Somehow, I've never seen one before. And it made me feel so old to realize that I would look like a fool if I tried to wear one. There are certain pieces that can only be worn by the young or the wacky.

- The woman that was trying to explain to her friend the power of her Kitchenaid mixer. "You could drive with a Kitchenaid." Car as power made me giggle.

- A customer called and asked if we sold bikini aprons. Wha? You know, aprons with a bikini printed on them.

- Another customer called and asked for bamboo bath towels. When I told her we didn't have any, she told me that we should get some because "there is at least one person that wants them." That is a great way to buy for a business. "Gosh I hope at least one person wants this item!" It is amazing that almost everyone with a request thinks that the thing they want is a really hot item and that we are going to stock it because one person asked for it, like they are doing us a favor or starting a trend. By the way, I am not hating on bamboo towels. They are great.

- I always love it when customers preface a request with their need and desire to have things that are natural, organic, and that will not "off-gas" (customers love that term), and then fold immediately because they find some gassy, unnatural, non-organic, and cheaper item. Way to stick to your ideals, consumers.

- The guy who tried to get into the store early and when we wouldn't let him, told us we "just lost a $10,000 sale"? You get the biggest eye roll of the week.

- A customer called and asked if we had anything in blue.


Let's talk about the weather!

Last week was very hot. The air conditioning broke at work and they have no immediate plans or funds to fix it. There were a few days when I thought I might go insane from the heat: hot outside, hotter in the store plus stagnant heavy air. Finally management got smart and put every fan in their possession onto the sales floor. Moving the hot air around made it a little less horrible. Amazingly, we made our numbers nearly every hot day. Yea, Economy???