No socks for me!

I approached a woman as she broused our shoe wall and offered my assistance. She was looking for some hiking shoes, but did not seem pleased with what we had to offer. She did not know what kind of hiking she was going to be doing. She was wearing a pair of high, platform-heeled, cork sandals, with no socks of course. I asked if she had brought socks with her. No. What kind of socks will you be wearing? Regular ones. Wool or synthetic? Cotton. Cotton is not a good choice, might I suggest something more appropriate? No.
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I approached a woman as she broused our shoe wall and offered my assistance. She was looking for some hiking shoes, but did not seem pleased with what we had to offer. She did not know what kind of hiking she was going to be doing. She was wearing a pair of high, platform-heeled, cork sandals, with no socks of course. I asked if she had brought socks with her. No. What kind of socks will you be wearing? Regular ones. Wool or synthetic? Cotton. Cotton is not a good choice, might I suggest something more appropriate? No.

At this point a man walks into the store and up to the woman and myself. He steps between me and the woman and tells her she needs "something like this or maybe this" while gesturing toward some low-top hikers. Still between me and the woman (who I am now assuming to be his wife or girlfriend since there is no family resemblance and no distinct age difference) he turns to me and says he is looking for some laces for his hiking boots. I ask if he knows what length he needs. No. But he bought the boots from us. Ok, which model are they? I don't know. Are they on the wall here? As I walk to the other end toward the men's boots. These. What size? 10 and a half. Ok, I'll get one and measure the lace for you. Thanks.

I return to the woman (she is his wife after all) and ask if she has found something she likes. She holds up a low-top hiker. Great, lets get some socks on and I will measure your foot. I don't want any socks. Ok, but we'll need something to measure with so pick a pair from this basket (our "try-on" socks) that's close to the ones you will wear. I don't know. She seems to be less interested. Well, let me get this lace measured and I'll help you pick some.

So, I get the size 10X boots from stock, pull the lace from one, measure it, and return with the number. The man seems satisfied to peruse our lace selection with this information.

I return to the woman and ask how thick her socks are. She is now sitting in a fitting chair with her legs and arms tightly crossed, staring straight ahead, and not responding to me. Ma'am, can I help you pick some socks? No response. Ma'am? No acknowledgement.

The husband is at the counter purchasing his laces. They leave.

About five minutes later, the phone rings. Another staff member answers it. It is the hsuband, he is saying that we lost a sale because someone tried to make his wife buy hiking socks. Yes sir, I am sorry you feel that way, thank you.

The next morning, there is an email from the husband. "We were in your store to buy hiking boots for my wife, but someone kept trying to sell my wife hiking socks. So we didn't buy anything."

Wow.

-- Ted Dinwiddie, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports - Charlottesville, VA

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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