Saturday, June 02, 2012

Random Retail Musings

Owning a small gallery and gift shop in a small town is quite interesting.

It's a good thing that in general I like people and for the most part the browsers and customers are pleasant to deal with.

Here are some examples of my customers - the good, the bad and the assholes.

I had a young boy of about 6 or 7 years old tell me that I "have the coolest store ever!" and went through the whole store saying "Wow". Somehow the praise of a young boy outweighs any other compliments anyone can give me.  I told his parents that they raised a very smart young man!  ;)

There is the "Jerseyliscious" crowd who accidentally wander in, peek over their Dolce Gabbana sunglasses and wince. We don't sell any designer labels...sorry.

"Lookyloos" - they have repeatedly stroll in and have yet to buy one thing, but just "Love everything in your store!" Yeah...if you love it so much buy something.

Another version of the "Lookyloo" is the "spy". These are employees from other stores in the neighborhood that come in and check out the prices of everything and also see if I have an item that they already sell or an item that they want to sell and just sell it cheaper. The spies are pretty easy to spot because they look at everything, pick it up, look at the price, try to see if there is information about where it came from etc.

I spy on other stores we all do it, you have to know what your neighbors (competitors) are doing. I just walk in and introduce myself. I guess I'm not really a spy am I? Sometimes I send my daughter in, she works retail, she's very good at checking out the scene for me.

Art lovers are fun. They like to just come in and see what is new on the walls. Some are artists themselves and are looking for places to show their work. There is always a good conversation with the art lovers which I really enjoy. They are the people who appreciate what I am trying to accomplish here and will always take a few business cards to pass on to friends etc.

Earthy/Organic types are our regular customers. They love the Fair Trade products and the recylced items. I know most of them by name, know their dogs names (we allow pets in the store) or their kids names. They are sometimes the ones with the least money to spare, but they usually buy something.

Manhandlers drive me insane! Not only do they touch everything they have such a heavy hand about it so all I hear is banging and clanging and scraping. Manhandlers also love to take one thing from one side of the store and carry it over to the other side and just leave it there. Unfold the clothes and just pile it up on top of everything. You have to watch manhandlers...they are also shoplifters.

Ohhhh, the shoplifters. In my short time as a retail owner the shoplifters are mostly teenagers. They walk in as a group and then split up. They either have a hoodie with pockets or big purses that they intentionally leave open. I have a group of girls that I know have stolen things, but I haven't caught them in the act yet. They don't steal big items...small earrings or a hackey sack. I won't let them split up anymore, they all have to stay together and I follow them around. Little bitches...I'll get ya.

We love the tourists! They have money...and they spend it! Bring them on!

Cell phone talkers. On the phone the whole time they are here. Annoying. They aren't looking to buy anything either. Just go away.

The undeciders - THEY are fun! They can take up to an hour or more deciding on one little thing to buy. The undeciders are not to be confused with the "Comparers" who will take 3 or 4 of a similar item and agonize which one they like best. I can understand them ...sort of. The undeciders will ask go around and around, and around the store looking for a gift but can't decide between Item A or Item B (if they manage to narrow it down that far). They usually ask me to be the tie breaker and will say something like: "We are going to buy this for our Aunt Freda and we can't figure out which one we like better." (I am mentally rolling my eyes) This is the tricky part because I don't want to offer any different suggestions because that will just prolong my agony, so I need to try to zero in and become "Aunt Freda" and pick something that I think she will adore. Is she fun and funky, or more reserved? Is she over 70? Under 70?

OK...if it is a single undecider...I try to watch their eyes to see which item they keep staring at more and ease them into that decision. If it's a's not so easy. I had a couple around the holidays that did this to me...and all I can say is that I needed a BIG glass of wine by the end of that day!

Critics - I don't mind criticism I can take it. You don't like me or my big deal, but I DO mind if you critique something one of my artisans has made and then pick it apart vocally in my store where I can hear you! That's just fucking rude. I had two women pick apart a bag one of my little ol' lady crafters made. They didn't like the color or the stitching or the price or my favorite..."Don't buy that here, I can have Susies, sister's niece three times removed make it for your for free." PISS OFF! If you could have someone make it for you then shut up and ask them. Don't fucking come in my store and criticize it. If you MUST criticize it, because that is the type of person you are...wait til you get outside, don't do it in front me me. It's my store you idiot. ugh...they are my least favorite in case you couldn't figure that out.

There are the litterers, the people who leave they cold drinks on my display cases and then I have a ring - whatever. Since we are located close to the beach we also have the people with suntan lotion and then lean on my glass counters and smear them all up...kinda nasty, but Windex will clean it up. It's part of the process.

Love the people who stand in the doorway and say to their friends behind them: "no, we don't want to go in here." Yeah...I don't want you in here either so pppppppbbbbblllllttttt!

They need to make a sitcom about retail...the material is endless.

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