I've been working in retail for 3 years now as an adult and certainly in my early 20's did my time at some discount shoe store, a Levi's store, a toy store, The Gap and even Baskin-Robbins, my first job.
My 10 year old son recently has begun this little game "who was your worst customer today, Mom?" So after coming home telling him all sorts of stories I thought, hey, I could come up with a sort of retail blueprint that might be helpful to customers. There is the "thin khaki line" where I work, we are all from different backgrounds and even different countries in some cases, but we are all united in wanting to be treated with a certain amount of dignity at work.
Ok, so here goes:
1. The customer is not always right. And being loud, pushy and aggressive may get the manager to bend a few rules for you, but in doing so you have forever given up any chance that a salesperson will ask you if you need anything again. And we all remember the bad ones. And we all talk about you in the backroom - sometimes when you are still there.
2. Do not hand a salesperson your Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts or kid's lollipop stick and say "do you have a trash can?" It's GROSS. Find a trash barrel in the main Mall hallway or food court.
3. Do not throw things on the floor of the dressing room. The epitome of disgrace.
4. Getting to the Mall the second it opens is ok if you are shopping or returning at the register, but if you need help getting sizes, etc. the best time to approach salespeople is 30 minutes after the store has opened so their morning caffeine can take full effect.
5. Likewise, never come to a store in a last minute rush on a weekend night looking for anything. We are tired, our feet hurt and we do not care about your particular situation. We just want to go home.
6. As a salespeople, we have a pretty thick skin and are happy to help customers. However, one slip of the tongue or one condescending comment and we're done with you. We don't think you are better than us because you are thin or have a good manicure or you are carrying a $500 handbag. When you need an item that is not on the floor, we will happily look in the backroom.
If after 10 minutes you decide you need another item, depending upon how it's asked, we will dutifully go and find it. If you have not been nice, we will just go take a sip of our coffee. If you ask for a 3rd item, you don't stand a chance.
7. Crying babies make us all tense. Please feed your baby, change your baby, rock your baby, do whatever you have to do so that little one does not fret up a storm while you shop for khakis.
8. Do not interrupt a conversation between a customer and a salesperson because you think your question is more important.
9. Complaining in great detail about how a certain item didn't wash well, or faded, or a shoe was too big or too small is of no concern to the hourly employee. Call the company and share your disappointment. It doesn't matter a hill of beans to salespeople who are just looking for a (relatively) easy part-time job.
10. You don't have to overly fawn or say lots of "please's" and "oh thanks you so much's"...it's all well and good - but as I said the customer/salesperson relationship works perfectly fine most of the time. We don't expect to be treated like royalty - just for you to have a better understanding that we are there earning a little grocery money and for the discount and have just left a bunch of kids eating mac & cheese...so don't expect us to take you all that seriously.