Daily Grind

Any one who has had the privilege to work retail, understands the friendliness, patience and positive reinforcement needed to help customers choose the right product and to have the right experience to come back to the store for more. What happens when, all too often, the customer coming into the store does not carry the same understanding for friendliness, patience but most importantly the good old golden rule, “Do onto others as you would want done to you.” As I am sure everyone in the retail game has experienced either on a daily basis or more, these stories are for you. You know you’re in retail when:
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Any one who has had the privilege to work retail, understands the friendliness, patience and positive reinforcement needed to help customers choose the right product and to have the right experience to come back to the store for more. What happens when, all too often, the customer coming into the store does not carry the same understanding for friendliness, patience but most importantly the good old golden rule, “Do onto others as you would want done to you.” As I am sure everyone in the retail game has experienced either on a daily basis or more, these stories are for you.
You know you’re in retail when:

Pushy customer- is looking around the store for clothing, has an armful of clothes, you’ve already placed the other two armful of clothes into the fitting room, when she says, “That’s a nice outfit you are wearing. Can I try it on?” Yep, she wanted me to change clothes so she could try on my clothes. Thankfully, I wasn’t the same size as the customer.

You are going to die or REALLY hurt yourself customer- comes into the store to purchase climbing equipment. They need a harness, rope and one of those things that help to hold you up. Upon further investigation on what type of climbing this, “I know exactly what I need, I just need you to tell me how to use it” customer needs you find out he (no stereotyping here, it just seems most of these customers are male) wants to paint his house. His method of anchoring himself is to throw a rope up and over the roof, tie himself into the harness and then have his wife pull the truck forward hence, pulling him up to the desired level to paint the house. When explaining why this is a BAD idea and why we cannot ‘teach’ how to tie knots or anchoring systems and that all climbing equipment is non-returnable this customer gets upset and storms out stating “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about”. (I checked the papers for a new Darwin award the next couple of wee ks but didn’t see any accidents for this type of injury).

I forgot my size customer- By far I think this is my worst experience. A gentleman came into the shop ranting and raving about the Patagonia silk weight boxers he had purchased last year. “They wick so well, I never knew how much my boys were going through with me wearing cotton.” As if this comment wasn’t enough, he then proceeds to say, “I forgot what size I wear, can you check my tag for me?” Before I could say “I’ll go check your history to find what size you purchased last time.” He pulled his pants back to show me the tag along with a view of his back side.

For those of you in retail, I’m sure you have similar stories and probably worse. I wish I had words of wisdom or a puke bucket for you all. Until then keep your spirits high and beer in the fridge!

-- Megan Alexander, Backwoods- Overland Park, KS


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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