Monday, February 7, 2011

The Sales Associate Gauntlet

You are at the mall and a store looks interesting so you duck into it, just to look around. You are greeted almost as soon as you walk into the store. While all you want to do is mind your own business and window shop you are constantly asked questions. How is your day? Can I help you find something? Would you like to look at that? Being the polite person you are you respond graciously to all the inquiries. Good, how is yours. I’m just looking, thanks. Most often you don’t find anything you want to buy so you exit the store. The sales associates wish you a good day and hope you will come back. If you decide to buy something they will almost always try and sell you something extra; a pack of gum, bottled water, or a magazine. You decline, pay for your purchase and leave.
I have worked retail for a couple of places, so let me give you the inside scoop. As you might guess the phrasing of the questions and trying to sell you more than you want to buy is required of a sales associate. The bosses lay down the law and you can get into trouble if you are caught not asking a customer if they want to buy a scarf with those mittens. Also being attentive gives those customers with sticky fingers the knowledge that they are being watched.
These are the superficial reasons. The real reason that it feels like that you are being pounced on is because they are bored. If it is a slow day and there are few customers and no one really buys anything the climax of a sales associates days may be refolding a pile of shirts that was rifled through. As a sales associate there is no place to hide. They must be stand visibly in the store, and sometimes they do just that, stand. They might stand in one spot for several minutes then see that a key chain is turned around on its hook. So they stroll over there and turn it around taking as much time as possible sorting through the key chains and arranging them in some way. They stand a little bit more and then see that someone bought gum. They hope someone else doesn’t spot the absence of gum and replace it before they get there.
So when you go into a store and every sales associate greats you and you are asked every two minutes if you need help. It’s likely because you are the most exciting thing happening in the store at that time.


  1. Does this reflect your new job as a sales associate? I do hope you'll find lots to entertain you in your work besides "attacking" the customers.

  2. A times. It is a job that can be busy or painfully slow. It is less attacking than oozing or sidling think more along the line of Jeeves.