Nun on the Run (Top 10 Finalist)

So it’s Palm Sunday, the store is open and the alarm goes off. We rush to the front door, hoping for a chase down Cedar Avenue—what’s more fun than chasing down bad guys? But instead there’s just a little old lady with a fatigue jacket, pockets the size of Volkswagens, and she is flustered.

So it’s Palm Sunday, the store is open and the alarm goes off. We rush to the front door, hoping for a chase down Cedar Avenue—what’s more fun than chasing down bad guys?

But instead there’s just a little old lady with a fatigue jacket, pockets the size of Volkswagens, and she is flustered.

"Do you have anything in your pockets?"

"Nope. "

"Are you sure?"


Meanwhile the alarm continues to scream. Reluctantly we ask if we can check her pockets—she’s old enough to be my grandma, after all—and only then do we find several books and a stargazer chart. Frail or no, she’s a bad guy! and we haul her bony ass upstairs to call the cops.


Sister Rose.

We exchange blank looks with one another and then look again at this diminutive thief. A nun? Shoplifting? On Palm Sunday? What would Jesus do?

Book ‘er, that’s what.

We call the cops, they come and haul Sister away, but not before we find out that she had actually purchased a small kayak. Rob, the manager, explained: "Once you make bail, you can come and get your boat—but you can’t come in the store. We’ll get your boat to the parking lot, and then you’re on your own. We can’t sell you anything, and we can’t help you with the boat. You can’t shop here anymore."

Late that afternoon, Sister Rose shows up to get her boat, is told again she can load it herself onto her vehicle—and don’t come back.

She looks at us and says, your manager told me you’d help us load the boat. Only problem is, she’s talking to Rob.

“You know, this little old lady shows up,” he recalled, “and I’m thinking, I know I’m not supposed to, but heck, I’ll help her anyhow. Then she ups and lies to me! A nun!”

 We put her boat down and walked away. When we turned around again she was gone. With her boat. Back to the nunnery.

by Seth Lindenfelser

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 Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.



Loafers on Denali (Top 10 Finalist)

He was a balding, portly, shorter fellow dressed in hemmed khaki slacks, brown loafers, and a nicely pressed pink polo shirt. Round coke bottle-esque glasses gave his face an awkward appearance. His rental car was a grey Chevy Impala.When he walked into Moosely Seconds I asked more


A Positive Spirit for Sales (Top 10 Finalist)

At the end of a long day, when I haven’t had time to break for lunch much less the bathroom, when I had to patiently explain to first–time kayakers that I couldn’t both hold the boat and help them back onto the dock, when a Yakima Q-tower stretch kit fit goes horribly wrong, it more


Shoe Sale Psychology (Top 10 Finalist)

My co-worker Peter and I have been driven to insanity. I think it is because of shoe sales. The sun is barely up and we’ve already been mountain biking for a while, in order to get out before the store opens. Like Calvin and Hobbes discussing philosophy on an out-of-control more


I Should Have Known (Top 10 Finalist)

“Excuse me, but would you answer a couple questions about GPS’s?” the middle-aged man asked. “Sure”, I said. What I was thinking though, was “damn, not exactly my strong suit!” I looked around trying to be as casual as possible, hoping I’d locate a staffer who had more more


Imaginary African Safari...

Sometimes it helps to play crazy. At least, sometimes there are good things that come from acting just like your customer. A perfect example of this would be this spry old lady who comes to our store to buy gear for a safari that she's been perpetually "leaving to go on in a more


Lear Jet Guy (Grand Prize Winner)

Seth came into work and told me last night’s nightmare. I’m not overly concerned, as Seth is young and still highly impressionable. It was him, he said. Taller, better looking, much better dressed—but it was him. Bob! he shouted. Bob! It’s HIM! Lear Jet Guy! He sidles into the more


Are you that guy?

Earlier in the season, I received a phone call that must have made sense to the other guy, but left me completely bewildered. The phone rang and I answer with our standard greeting. The guy asked "Hey, were you that guy who helped me the other day?" Bewildered, I asked what more