How To Become a Better Shopper

Each subsequent Christmas season spent toiling away in Generic Retail Store #9,556 has driven me to spew into the psychic atmosphere passionate, rage-driven wishes that every customer who ransacks a store in search of that One T Shirt; strews a fitting room with their fat roll-defining, discarded clothing; pulls out the big guns of attitude with the harried salesperson who lacks the time and ability to be The Personal Shopper; should spend eternity forevermore themselves working in retail.

I don’t believe that the people who actually work in retail truly deserve to work in retail. Every retail associate with whom I have crossed paths has become a better shopper by experience; we know what it’s like to pick up after entitled, All-Too-Busy shoppers and none of us would ever knowingly inflict that torture on anyone else. I believe that every retail associate has something to say and I would like to give them my voice. I would like to make the retail world a better place by passing on our unique brand of wisdom. And so, without further ado, I bring to you ways in which you too can become a respectful, well-liked customer of our wonderful retail establishments!

Consumer Behavior Modification Checklist

Be sure to quickly scan and check that you will be meeting all listed criteria before you go shopping!

* Exceptional service from an associate is something that is earned; it may technically be in our job description, but it is NOT included in our paychecks. If you want the service that you feel you deserve, you need to be the customer that we feel we deserve. Consider leaving the attitude at home once in awhile; it’s not our fault if you’re having a bad day or if you’ve waited until the last minute to buy your children’s school uniform and you find out that the items you need are no longer in stock at our store. We’ll help you any way that we can, but it must be accepted that retail associates aren’t miracle workers.

* Don’t leave a fitting room stall strewn with the 20 ill-fitting articles of clothing that the little voice inside your head insisted must be tried, especially when an associate is standing not five feet from your room. An associate can always spot these particular offenders immediately, as they generally fit two criteria: 1) A customer who unabashedly admits to having a heaping bag full of clothing, 2) avoidance of the eyes upon leaving (although, a personal favorite remains the customer who exits the fitting room while asking if it’s OK that they leave their clothing in the room. I’m hard-pressed to stop myself from asking how much that customer herself enjoys using a fitting room full of clothing – yeah, believe it or not, the next customer won’t either.)

* Don’t close the fitting room door behind you when you leave – the door locks automatically and it is impossible for the associate to know whether someone is actually occupying a stall without degrading themselves in front of a waiting customer by crawling around on the floor looking under the stall doors for occupying un-manicured feet.

* It’s probably not wise to choose to shop for clothing when you’re extremely busy. Please attempt to refrain from thrusting items into an associate’s hands, as well as from tossing items onto the nearest table, because you don’t have the time to pause a moment (at a table that you have to pass on your way out, anyway) to return the items to their proper place.

* The customer who attempts to refold/rehang their clothing is always appreciated; it may be done incorrectly, but it shows effort and care. However, those customers are one in a million. I wonder if there is a fleeting moment, right after the clothing is carelessly tossed aside, that the customer feels like a complete jerk but cools those feelings with the mental salve that someone who is paid to clean will be along to deal with it shortly? In case this was never made clear, retail associates aren’t personal maids and because every single customer believes the same myth, we don’t have the luxury of following along behind you and cleaning immediately. Therefore, our store ends up looking awful and the same customers who are littering the store complain that it looks like a back-alley thrift shop. You can’t have everything, people.

* If the clothing that you are pawing through falls off the hanger… don’t leave it on the floor. And consider a lighter touch, Moose*.

*If an associate is working in the area where you would like to shop, please do not push your way into their personal space without first courteously letting them know that you would like to look at an item they are currently handling. A customer is not entitled to every space in the store simply by virtue of the few measly dollars they may spend there. I, for one, will happily continue to stand in your way while you attempt in vain to intimidate me out of the area with your menacing, steam-rolling shopping cart.

* Picture it, Sicily Sales floor: Oh no! The tank top you want doesn’t seem to come in XS. It’s fine, you can try the S on and hope it fits. In a Fitting Room far, far away: Oh no! The S is too big after all. You know the store doesn’t keep product in the back, but you wonder if the associate will check anyway… No? Well, actually, can they just check the sales-floor again? They’re sure they don’t have it? Well, you’re confident that you saw one… Back on the sales floor: Associate (who knows you’re lying) takes their time coming back to you and secretly relishes in disappointing you. Later, to a manager: You are amazed at the associate’s rudeness and insist to the manager that they should be fired for their transgression. (This scenario is a true story, and actually happened 20 minutes after closing.)

* Speaking of which, please do not act as if you are blissfully unaware of a store’s closing time. When you are still shopping your little heart away at 9.30pm, you are no longer a desired customer and will be treated as such. In order to spare everyone involved a possibly humiliating and undesirable experience, please just refrain from having the audacity to ask for fitting room assistance at all after closing time.

*As if this needs to be said: do not try on clothing in the middle of the sales floor. Not only is it undignified, there is no way that a customer can/will properly replace the unwanted clothing items.

* There are 3 associates on the sales floor; it is unwise to approach the associate who is buried in piles of clothing, fixtures, and pricing guns and ask them to drop everything and run clear across the store to check a price for you. Even less wise if begrudgingly preambled with, “I can see you’re terribly busy; I hate to rip you away from your work, but…” By the end of the sentence, you may be missing quite a few teeth.

* If your child is prone to tantrums and/or extreme messiness or is so time-consuming that you cannot be bothered to bring your clothes or your cart out of the fitting room stall, consider leaving the child with Grandma before you go out; not only will your experience be more enjoyable, you won’t be subjecting yourself to the embarrassment/extreme revulsion that comes from an annoying kid in public.

* Please be sure to read all intentionally misleading store signs carefully; I shouldn’t have to point out that the sign actually says in slightly smaller print, “Two items for $10.00 each”, not “Two items for $10.00”.

* Do not take advantage of store policies – just because the manager will allow a price override if you complain loudly enough does not mean that every shopping excursion should be problematic in order to selfishly steal a few bucks from the company.

* Rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t do it at your home, don’t do it here. A wonderful example – would you throw a tampon in your bathroom toilet? No? You probably shouldn’t throw it in any other toilet, either. The same goes for smearing poo on the walls, submerging an entire toilet roll in the toilet, peeing on the seat, throwing toilet paper all over the floor, (literally) ad nauseum.

I would almost be pleased with myself for helping humanity in my own small way if I were naive enough for a second to believe that anyone would ever seriously change their behavior. This is a humorous article, make no mistake, but there is a very large grain of truth to it that will end up overlooked between the hee’s and ha’s. At the end of this article lie endless heaps of discarded clothing.

*The character from Archie Comics who didn’t know his own strength…DUH?

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