Clashing Cultures

I've been working in the outdoor retail industry for years, but this was my first year working in the states. I had never come across such an amusing day like this before. To start with my accent (I'm from New Zealand) doesn't help the situation when talking to customers who don't understand you that well.
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I've been working in the outdoor retail industry for years, but this was my first year working in the states. I had never come across such an amusing day like this before.

To start with my accent (I'm from New Zealand) doesn't help the situation when talking to customers who don't understand you that well.

On this day I had two customers in a row that put their foot in their mouth, and made me wonder if they had even studied geography or had even left their home town.

The first customer, after being told i was from New Zealand, said that I spoke very good English! I nicely informed them that yes English was our native tongue.

The second customer really should have gone back to school for asking which "state" New Zealand was in. For that question they got a quick response that in fact NZ was in the state east of New York. I got no response other than a look of puzzlement.

From there my day got even more interesting when I was helping a lovely lady and her husband with another pair of ski boots. They buy a pair just about every 20 days of skiing. She asked me to put her old (but still hardly used) ski boots in the trash for her. Instead of dumping perfectly good ski boots I suggested to either give them to a friend or to grow a pot plant in them. (In NZ we call flowers in a pot, a pot plant. However I learned a little too late that a flower in a pot in the U.S. is called a "potted" plant).

Her reaction was of total shock, the reaction from my co-workers was total laughter rolling around on the floor, as I stood there with a smile on my face trying to figure out what I had said wrong.

Later I was informed about my mishap and now I've learned to include the "ED" at the end of pot.

by Jo Beacham

Through July 1, retail sales staff answered the contest call to submit a story of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. The story titles with summaries that made the first round of qualifications are listed below, and each is now in the hands of our judges to decide on the top 10. You can read each story in its entirety by going to the contest landing page -- click here.

Ten lucky story writers will each win over $1,000 in product prizes based on the contest judges' votes. Here is where you come in! Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007. Three others will be named official "honorable mentions," and in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event, such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous. The grand prize winner will be announced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. We will determine the grand prize winner and the three runner up winners based on popular vote (sorry judges) -- those among the top ten receiving the most votes win, it's that simple. This is for store pride, for knowing you have a winner amongst you, so vote as often as you like. Tell your friends. Tell your friends friends. Tell your dog -- but only if he can work a computer keyboard. Deadline for voting is August 1, 2006.Click here to register your vote now!

Did you miss out on this year's contest? Bummer, but no worries. If you haven't already done so, outdoor retail staff can get ready for next year by activating a subscription now at www.snewsnet.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.

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