It was a chilly, damp spring day with the threat of rain in the forecast. I had just returned from my lunch break when I greeted two women with four kids in tow. Three of them were chatty 5 to 6 year olds. The youngest child, a toddler, was the quiet one. But that didn't last for long.
All but the toddler were here for footwear. The chatty little trio was happy with their selection of Keen sandals and immediately went off to play hide and seek, and disassemble the store. The parents proceeded to try on every shoe in the store as the toddler played nearby.
During one of my returns from the stockroom, I detected a faint odor in the air. One mom discreetly leaned over and said to the boy, "Ooooo, somebody made a stinky." The toddler smiled and broke his silence with a giggle. When the other mom repeated that phrase, his giggles turned into laughter.
In subsequent returns from the stockroom, the laughs and giggles got louder and the odor got much stronger. They were now saying to him, "Who's the stinky boy?" I promptly asked if he had an accident, and offered to provide a changing area. She replied, "It's OK, he's just a little gassy." (A little gassy, I thought. This kid was breaking wind like a hungover frat brother and the parents were cheering him on like a couple of sorority sisters.)
I felt a sense of embarrassment as people walked by, contorted their nostrils, and glanced our way. As if to say, who did that? When it happened, I would smile back, say hello, and make the best of it. I usually got a knowing smile in return. They seemed to know what I was going through.
Come to think of it. There were lots of smiles that day.
Smiles from "stinky boy" who enjoyed all of that attention.
Smiles from the chatty trio that disassembled the store.
Smiles from the parents who finally found the right shoes.
Smiles from yours truly who closed the sale and rediscovered fresh air.
by William Laskowski
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.