Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sugar buzz

- I have been selling several gifts off one particular registry to family members from out of town.  The only reason this is any different than usual is because usually the selling is spread out over more clerks, but for some reason, pure chance, I have rung up at least 6 family members.  I have gone over the list with them, described items, helped them find things, made suggestions.  The registered couple is getting quite a heap of gifts!  Then I imagined opening them and it seemed so disappointing:  4 dinner plates in one, napkins and placemats in another, the large strange flattish one concealing a cutting board and a can opener.  It's so lame and adult when you can get excited about linens and matching plates.

- I had a customer ask for a business card.  I gave her one.  Then I gave her the receipt for her purchase.  She scolded me for its length, telling me it was a waste of paper.  If she's so concerned about saving paper, why does she take business cards that she is probably going to lose anyway?  Why doesn't she just read our info off the huge flippin' receipt?  But what do I know.

- Today was the organized Trick-or-Treat where children and families go around to all the participating businesses and collect free candy.  Let me tell you, it was a shitstorm.  Due to a mis-announcement, people started ToTing an hour early, so many businesses were running out of candy way too early.  In the middle of it, I had a customer purchase a sofa and take it out the front door amongst the masses of costumed tots.  After the event was over, we still had kids coming in until finally we had no more candy.  Not one Laffy Taffy or Tootsie Roll.  The best though, were the parents who were surprised that we were open.  "Are you guys open during the Trick-or-Treating?"  UM, yea, how do you think we pay for the candy?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Come on people, don't be dicks

Today was a very good day.  I went happily about my tasks, helped a lot of customers, including a lot of regulars who were delightful and pleasant.  Yep, it was a pretty good day.  Until the end.

I honestly believe that working years and years of retail has sharpened my senses, making me like some weather predicting dog.  There are some customers that I will just walk past or see in my peripheral vision in a far corner of the store and know that they will be trouble.  I'm not claiming psychic powers, but I am right more often than I would like to be.

Today there was a couple from Canada* in the store for quite awhile.  I walked past at one point when my co-worker was answering some furniture questions for them.  I got that twitchy feeling immediately, the one that says "this is not over."

Then, after the store was closed but before they left, they suddenly decided to purchase the $300 item for which they made the trip.  Of course it was complicated because it was on sale and they had coupons and we were not supposed to use the coupon on sale prices.  I figured a way they could use the coupons off a discounted price, but it was obviously not as desirable as a coupon off the sale price.

Finally, I asked them if they still wanted to purchase the item and they just stood there.  The store was silent and the entire staff was poised, ready to pack up the customer's order if they gave the ok.  In that moment, I realized that was what they had been planning to do all along:  keep us late, back us into a corner, and prod a discount out of us.  Fuck that shit.

Maybe I should have risked a reprimand and used the coupon anyway.  But sometimes it feels really good to not give into adult brats.

*I do not wish to imply that all customers from Canada are troublemakers.  It may or may not validate any presumptions I have made in my mind about these particular customers.  I only mention this because it was an interesting fact about the customers.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Among d├ęcor motifs, the bird, be it wren, ibis, or owl, is definitely still hot, despite the Portlandia "Put A Bird On It."  We see so many birds, we may forget about its long-standing rival:  the dragonfly!

Ladies love dragonflies.  Put that flying insect on anything and it will sell.  They have a steady, more subtle following than bird people.  Customers will walk around the store, looking at bird things and declaring aloud "I love birds!  I love anything with birds on it!" while the dragonfly people will quietly confess at checkout "I love dragonflies!"  

I am still trying to figure out what it is that ladies love about them.  With birds, there are the feathers, the chubby bodies, the nesting, and the ability to fly (freedom!) that customers love.  What is it that they love about the dragonfly?  How do they relate?  Life in the wetlands, growing up from an ugly larva to an awkward walker, eating bugs, mating in midair?  Is it the dragonfly's presence in Japanese and Native American cultures?  Are they enchanted by Art Nouveau interpretations of the dragonfly?  What is it?

Personally, I forget about the interesting appearance of dragonflies until I see one, be it alive or dead.  The bulbous gem-like eyes, hairy stick body, and the delicate mesh wings.

I had a customer that wanted a sofa, an entire sofa!, in a dragonfly print fabric.  Why the dragonfly?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

this clerk's life

While walking to work today, with great reluctance, grouchy, wanting more sleep and coffee and sunshine, a guy at a bus stop asked me for spare change.  Since I was not at work and being paid for pleasantness, I could show my true crappy self.  Luckily, I gave a restrained, cool "No" while my thoughts seethed "getajobfuckinghoboihavetogotoworkwhyshouldn'tyoutooi'dlovetostayoutsideinthesunshinetodaywouldn'tthatbenicebutsomeonehastopaymydebtandyourtaxesthat'sanicebenchyoursittingonyou'rewelcome".

I worked with some really great customers today.  It still always amazes me how people ordering custom furniture make it sound like it should be so easy.  "It's JUST like this, but bigger.  How hard can it be?  They just use templates, I'm sure."  Except that you are asking for something for which they probably DON'T have "templates" AND they are trusting that the measurements you gave are correct.  Terrifying.

Then I had a lady ask me to bubble wrap her dried dip mixture package.  You know, just in case she drops it and the paper shatters on the way home.  Herbs and spices everywhere!

Whenever we are closing, I always wonder what people think the proper closing procedure should be, choices in my scenario being 1. closing time, buy your stuff and get the hell out as soon as possible. Better yet, don't come in at closing.  2. if you come in at 1 minute to closing you should get all the time you need to browse and shop, Costco style (or at least what I was told was Costco style.  I could just be perpetuating rumors).  

I have written about this before and I still maintain that you should not go into a store to browse if they are closing soon and if you are there after closing, you should get the hell out.  People want to go home.  Though I'm sure they exist, I have yet to meet someone that is thrilled by surprise after hours work, whatever their profession.  People need to go home, or at least do something else.  You've had a long hard day, filled with frustration and satisfaction?  You are hungry, need to kick your shoes off, have a drink, or do your hobby?  Well that's too fucking bad.  You should be thankful for this customer and their business because they told you so!  

Now I'm at home having a delicious beer and blogging.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

believe it or not

1. Customers don't believe that we don't carry everything, for example, whatever they want.  What sort of perfect world do they think this is where they can call up the first place they think of and find the exact weirdly specific item they have decided they need?

2. Sometimes people's mothers aren't very nice.

3. I spent a good portion of the day directing traffic to the bathrooms.  You know, pointing them in the proper direction, reassuring them that it wasn't too far, chasing them out of closets and offices they thought might be a bathroom (despite signs stating they are not).

4. Sometimes the way people enjoy sitting on a sofa is to sit on a throw pillow on the sofa cushion.  People do all kinds of weird shit to the pillows.

5. Sometimes people have poor luck with an item so they will exchange it.  Makes sense.  The first one was probably defective.  But sometimes they keep having "defective" items and keep exchanging it.  Why would you keep getting an item when you have a history of problems with multiple items?  "This thing is shitty, but I like it.  I know I'll have trouble with this thing and all its shitty replacements because it is shitty, but I like it.  I give it as wedding gifts!"

6.  Sometimes people don't want to pay the change on their total.
"Your total is $20.35."
(hands me a $20 bill.)
I pause, thinking they might slowly be going for change.  After a moment I repeat:
"Your total is $20.35."

See, they think I'm going to pull 35 cents out of a magical non-existant change jar or perhaps my own pocket.  I used to feel sorry for these people.  I fell into the trap of thinking that maybe they were just a little short, you know?  They just needed a few cents, right?  What's the harm?  Well, the harm is that they are fucking faking and they ALWAYS have change.  They have a jangling separate purse full of coin.  They are just being cheap.  And think about it this way:  if they truly don't have enough money to buy their items, maybe they don't need all those items.  One sure fire way to get change fakers to cough up coin is to ask them which items they want to put back.  So, back to my story:

(looks of feigned confusion by the customer when I repeat the total)
"Don't you have a quarter and a dime?  For the 35 cents?"
(they fish the change out of their purse and we finish.)

Keep it simple.  Never accuse.  There is a time and place for accusations and that is the Internet.