How to be a better shopper

If you think this post is about saving money, it’s not. We’re not talking bargain hunting here, (partly because I have choice words for the people who get a great deal on a quality piece of clothing made with dignity and turn their noses up at it).  I’m talking about how to buy well and in a way that makes the most of the experience.

First off, even when you have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, tell the sales associate when they greet you and ask if they can help you. I know, I know. You think if you do that they’ll follow you around and try to oversell to you, and you’ll end up with things you didn’t want. You picture yourself leaving multiple bags full of jewelry and scarves and pants you’ll never wear again. This is usually not the case. In most stores, employees have other responsibilities, and while the customer comes first, they won’t be your shadow. They do want you to buy, so they’ll try to show you things they think you’d like. Most likely, they’ll point out a few things that might fit your bill, start a dressing room for you, and let you roam free while checking in every now and then.

This assumes that the salespeople know their product and are helpful. If they don’t, accepting help won’t really be helpful, but on the off-chance that they were not hired erroneously and were trained well, talk to them so they can point you to things you might otherwise overlook (i.e. things that look horrid on hangers but great on people, product that is hiding because it’s too crowded for it to be displayed well, something that’s folded that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, etc).

Secondly, the way you conduct yourself in the fitting room has a direct relationship with the way we will perceive your character. You can try on as many things as you like, but if the associate brings you everything you ask for and you leave it on the floor when you exit, that’s going to reflect badly on you and make it difficult for those of us who clean out those dressing rooms to want to serve you well. I know what you’re saying, But it’s your job! Yes, it is my job. And I love to do my job well. I take pride in it. But I’m going to be putting your clothes back whether you leave them inside out on the floor (or inside out on the hanger… still not helpful!) or hung decently well. Common courtesy to your fellow (wo)man dictates that you think about the person who will have to clean up after you and be kind. Trust me, if you leave your fitting room with at least attempts at cleanliness, we will think much more highly of you. You never know how that will benefit that salesperson… or even you.

Thirdly, there is always a back room. Now, this doesn’t always mean there is more stock of what’s on the floor, but it means that it’s always worth asking. This is just using your resources, people. We salespeople are here to assist you in buying from us. We have ways of getting what you need that you may have no idea about.

Fourth, wash your clothes before you wear them.  I want to repeat that with a megaphone from the top of a high building. WASH THEM. I know sometimes you grab a shirt from the bottom of a beautiful pile that obviously was just placed on the floor after being manufactured. You think it’s never even been touched, but trust me, it has. It has not only been touched, but tried on – sometimes many times in one day. It has been handled by salespeople and small children and people coming into the store who haven’t washed their hands or bodies recently. But that just means I (and other people like me) am doing my job well. I can fold a pile of shirts so it looks like it’s never been touched, but oh, has it ever. You are (almost) never the first person to try on a piece of clothing. It’s fine when you’re just trying, but when it becomes yours, please wash it. Set my germaphobic mind at ease and promise, okay?

I feel like I shouldn’t have to add this last point, partly because I know my audience here, and they are all kind people. I do also know that sometimes shoppers can be a bit cold to the people working retail, even when they are perfectly nice people. But, I’m going to say it anyways, be nice. You know what that looks like. It doesn’t mean you have to inquire about my life or my day. It just means being pleasant, patient, and listening when I try to tell you that I can save you more money if you open a credit card – even if you vehemently do not want one.

Looking forward to seeing you all put this into practice next weekend.


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