The Customers I’ve Met

Retail is a funny thing.

I mean, we all go shopping and spend time in stores and, personally, I never paid too much attention to the sales people or other customers around me. I like to be left alone when I shop, so I probably avoid sales associates as much as possible. ( See? Still don’t like talking to people I don’t know…)

But now that I am the sales person, I’ve noticed all sorts of things. Particularly, how strange some people are. Working with the general public can give you a greater appreciation for your friends and family who are “normal” in comparison. And since some people have done posts about the lawyers and clients you meet, I figured I could do the customers I’ve met.

* The Quiet/Aloof Shopper:

I like these shoppers. They are like me. They are nice and polite, but when asked if you can help, they say no and that they are just looking and such. They are nice about it and usually don’t make too much of a mess. Some even go out of their way to put things back where they found them. If they have a real question, they ask. Some are even a little talkative if you can find a connection and usually pretty funny. The only downfall is that a lot of times they really aren’t going to buy anything and are just looking. But, I’m okay with it. I’d rather have nice customers that don’t always buy a lot than rude and obnoxious ones who buy a bunch.

* The Rude Wants-to-be-Left-Alone Shopper

They also don’t want help, but they are super rude when you say hi and offer to help them find something. They don’t usually buy much, if anything and go through your department like a tornado. And as I’m mostly in intimates and swim right now, it gets demolished pretty easily. And they don’t like little jokes and look at me like I’m an alien.

* The Rude but Needy Shopper

These customers are also rude, but they also seem unable to do anything on their own, include decide what they like or are looking for. They demand your help and full attention, yet they don’t like anything you pull for them and can’t tell you what they DO want. These people drive me nuts especially since they are so picky and they can’t do anything on their own, so they buy nothing but use all your time when you could be helping someone else.

* The Old Ladies

They could go one of two ways. Some old ladies are super nice and funny. I love the ones who are still stylish and have some sense of what is still in style and know their granddaughters don’t want to wear turtleneck dresses to homecoming and prom. (I also have dresses in my department.) They love to shop and spend their newfound free time shopping.

But then there are the cranky old ladies. They can’t believe what the styles have come too and they want me to find everything for them. They are just generally cranky. And they have a rude remark for everything. And when it comes to the home store…they don’t know what they want but you are supposed to read their minds. I avoid them.

* The Old Men

The men’s store is a different world anyways. They have many more items that require special knowledge and I’ve been thrown into the department and it’s rough. And while the older men are usually nice, they also expect a sales associate that is working back there to know everything possible and don’t like the excuse “I’m filling in here and I usually don’t work in this area”. I like these guys as long as they aren’t looking for a suit since I know NOTHING about suits. THey make jokes. Sometimes hit on the girls. But usually all around nice guys. And they will tell you a million stories and talk your ear off if you let them. Also, if they look lost and you ask if you can help, their most common responses are either “I’m just waiting for my wife to finish shopping so we can leave” or “I’ve lost my wife so I came back here. I figure she’ll come look for me.” HA! Love them.

* The Young Men

These guys are funny. They usually don’t want help, but they often times look lost. The most fun are the ones who are buying their first dress shirt and tie for whatever event/interview/job that has come up. Had a guy who had an interview in an hour and walked out wearing the dress slacks, shirt, and tie. They also stick to what they know when looking for jeans or shirts that aren’t dress clothes. They aren’t too chatty and like to be left alone. Not mean, just very independent.

* The I-can’t-Shop-Alone-but-Have-No-One-With-Me

These people are super needy. They want you to be their personal shopping buddy, which would be fine if we had enough people working, but we don’t, so this is problematic. The worst is when they want your opinion and they don’t look the greatest in something. I try to find something that might be better or a different size. Being tactful is a big part of this job. It is nice to get to interact with people on a closer level. They will tell you their life story. But if you have to help anyone else, it’s a personal attack on them. It’s a balancing act.


There are others. The angry ones. The lonely ones. The teenage girls. The moms that let their children destroy everything in their path. The ones who shop in the store 4-5 times a week and always manage to find something new to buy. They all add to our lovely cast of characters.

And some days I get some truly wonderful customers that make my day. Like the woman who bought me a chocolate bar just for helping her. And then there are the ones I help catch shoplifting and they take off running. Always something exciting.

Now off to work I go. Hoping for the nice ones tonight. But at least the rude ones add some entertainment.



Filed under Working Girl

7 responses to “The Customers I’ve Met

  1. My favorite all time customer was from when I worked in gift wrapping. There was this woman who would always come in with the most bizarre ideas. One time she wanted her gift to look “like a cupcake.”* After about 25 minutes of intense creative collusion (AKA me trying to figure out what she wanted), I realized it was essentially a gift wrapped, placed in a pink bag, blown up, with white tissue paper and sparkles on top. Really.

    *This type of person is why it’s good not to live in LA.

  2. EH

    My sister worked cosmetics and had the craziest old ladies! I love the stories of the people you meet at retail – I think there are a lot who go shopping just for the human connection it gives them. And I love that you’re there to chronicle it for us. 🙂

  3. Jessica @ Acting Adult

    I love all the different people! When I shop with Husband, we always say we’re just looking but if I have questions, I’ll ask. When it’s me, I like to chat with people and talk about the merchandise but I’m never rude. I don’t think.

    • I doubt you are ever rude. And I think some customers go out of their way to be mean. And I really have no problem with people just looking because I do that ALL THE TIME. It’s the ones that want me to be their personal slave and then buy nothing. hah

      • Meredith

        I always feel bad about that. Like, if I ask them to help me (not be my slave but you know, I’m looking for x.y.z, do you have something like that) they spend 20 minutes helping me find something I like, dressing room stuff, heming and hawing and then I don’t buy it? I feel like a total b*tch for wasting their time. So I typically just say, oh, no thank you, I’m just looking even when I know exactly what I am looking for.

  4. And I can tell when it’s just not working for them. And that’s fine too. But the people who intentionally do it. MAn, I feel like all I’ve done for two posts is offend people. I need to go back to fluff. haha. If you’re nice and not calling me dumb, I don’t mind. Especially if we’re slow because I have nothing else to do. haha

  5. I’m definitely the quiet/aloof shopper. I’m always scared people will think it’s me being rude but I know what I want (and don’t want) and I talk ALL day for a living so it’s nice to just shop and be semi-silent.

    At least I know you wouldn’t think I was rude! 😉

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