Monday, December 7, 2009

These Gentlemen's Guide to Shopping

Or 'Let me give you a tip- the retail edition'

Like several other Gentlemen, I have what I refer to as a 'fake job'. This is the job that provides me with an income, since my theoretical 'career' is in a creative field which isn't exactly lucrative. Essentially, I work in a clothing store so that I can do things like pay rent. It's certainly not a terrible job: the hours are flexible, I like the people I work with, and the discount is fantastic. Occasionally, however, the frustrations (i.e. customers) make it quite unpleasant. And so, like Ali did for restaurant patrons, I'd like to offer shoppers a simple guide to store etiquette.

On the sales floor: If you knock something onto the floor, pick it up. This is not a difficult concept. This is a concept a five-year-old can grasp. Literally. I was straightening clothes on the sales floor today and a little girl, after seeing me hang up a shirt, crawled under a rack of clothes to pick up a dress off the floor, and stood on her tip-toes to place it back on the rack. I don't think I have ever been so fond of a small child.

In the fitting room:
Generally, in stores, clothes are placed on objects called 'hangers.' These are often made of wood, though they can also be plastic or (shudder) wire. In order to try on a garment, it is necessary to remove the item from its hanger. It is not necessary, however, to then discard the item to a pile in the corner of the fitting room. Instead, take a moment to return it to the hanger. Please. Bonus points if closures are zipped/buttoned/tied. While this is not a particularly time consuming act, when multiplied by every item tried on by every customer in the fitting room, it can quickly become a huge task. And a mess left in a fitting room means a longer line as that room must then be cleaned out before another customer can use it.

At the cash register: Hang up your cell phone. Personally, I really enjoy working at the cash register because it's fun to chat with customers. I like hearing about the sister who puts her dog up to the computer to videochat, or the husband from whom all of the purchases will need to be hidden. It's incredibly frustrating when the person across the counter ignores the fact that I am a human being deserving a certain amount of interaction. I'm not asking for undivided attention, but 'yes' is not an appropriate response to 'Would you like the receipt with you or in the bag?'

In general, I love the customers in my store. I am more than happy to go running upstairs, downstairs and back to the stockroom in order to find that sweater someone saw in the window two months ago. I will gladly help a customer decide which of the twelve dresses she's trying on looks the best on her, and I will carefully wrap a dozen full place settings for a customer who is traveling with them halfway across the country. I think my 'guidelines' are really just about showing common courtesy. If customers were to follow them it would create a much more pleasant shopping experience, largely because it would enable sales associates to help them directly instead of simply cleaning up in the wake of their shopping frenzy.


Jstone said...

extending one of your rules to book stores:
If you take a book off the shelf, either put it back where you got it exactly or put it on the conveniently provided carts throughout the store. Ramming it haphazardly into any old spot requires employees to go item by item with a scanner and figure out where that goes

Max Nova said...

I agree 100% on the cell phone thing. It kills me (as a customer!) when I see people on their cell while in line at Chipotle, for example. Why not just reach over the protective glass and stick your hand near the sour cream. Oh wait, you just did!

I had a whole long rant about Chipotle etiquette, which I will not post, but one point I will say - it should be like a carnival ride, If you're not old/big enough to see over the counter, just go elsewhere. i.e. parents, don't take your kids to Chipotle to get one soft taco with just cheese and lettuce. This is very lame.

nevie said...

i used to work retail too. my BIGGEST pet peeve is when people would come out from the dressing room with their returning clothes half inside-out, not on hangers, half of it still in the room.

i was in a store the other day, waiting in line for a dressing room and these 2 sassy teenagers handed their numbers to the sales associate, who wearily asked them where the clothes they had tried on were. they said, quite nastily, "in the room." she, still weary, asked them to go get them. when they brought their stuff back, it was in the manner described above, and they looked at each other and one said, "i'm NOT putting it back on the hanger."

oooh girl i had to bite my tongue.

Ozkirbas said...

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
I have committed the cardinal sin of cellphoning whilst checking out.
And, I'll probably do it again.
But, I promise to apologize before/during/after.

B.Graham said...

I've cell phoned while checking out, too. And I've texted while hanging out with real people. In essence, I should just have my cell phone taken away from me.

That said, I agree 100% with these rules, and add this one: just because you spend a lot of money at that store does not mean you can treat the salespeople like crap. And take your damn dog outside.

Alex said...

Oh, believe me, I've been on my cell phone while checking out before. As long as there is an acknowledgement of the situation then I really don't mind. It's not nearly as bad as the person who isn't on a phone and still doesn't acknowledge your presence.

And I love when people have dogs in the store. Though I'm generally just happy for any amusement.