How to Shop: A Remedial Lesson in Etiquette


Tis the season for shopping! The store I work at is getting busy, gearing up for the holiday season, and the now 24-hour madness that is Black Friday is almost upon us! So I thought perhaps it’s time to talk shopping etiquette.

Before I started working in retail a year ago, I would have thought most of the things I am about to write about went without saying. Surely everyone knows these things, right? WRONG. Working in retail has taught me that People (the corporate version of the word) are unrepentant jerks, slobs and thieves. Thusly, the following remedial shopping guide:

  1. Pay for merchandize you leave the store with. In other words, don’t steal. This might sound familiar, from the 10 commandments, the warnings on the insides of fitting rooms that this store prosecutes shoplifters, and your mother, but apparently some of you missed it, so here it is again: Don’t. Steal. You are not being that sneaky, putting your ripped off tags under the little round stool in the fitting room, stuffing them behind the edges of the mirror, or putting them on top of the wall. You are also not fooling anyone by leaving your old shoes in the box and wearing out the new ones. This is a store, not a take a penny leave a penny situation. Just don’t do it
  2. If you are going to try on clothes that you have to remove other articles of clothing to put on, do so in the fitting room. And close the door when you’re in there. Please don’t stand in the isle in front of the mirror and strip. And don’t do the same thing with your child.
  3. If you are going to try on clothes that you DON’T have to remove other articles of clothing to put on, don’t then leave the things you’ve tried on in piles on the floor, inside out, or draped over nearby racks in heaps. Don’t stuff them in between racks, under other items, or behind the mirror. Just put them back. Or at least put them on the hanger and leave them on the front of a rack so I can easily find them and put them back for you. You want to know why we don’t have more mirrors? Because y’all can’t use them responsibly.
  4. If you knock things off of a rack, pick them up. If your child knocks things off a rack, either have them pick them up, or do so yourself. This teaches your child to be responsible for his/her own mess, and can only do him/her good in life. This request includes that ridiculously overstuffed clearance rack. I know it’s a pain to shop over there, and that things fall off hangers if you look at them. You know now I know? Because 400 of you went through there today, and I’ve picked up that same shirt 15 times already, as well as the 30 shirts right around it. If we could, we’d give you more space, believe me.
  5. If you (or your child!) knock over an ENTIRE RACK, or an arm off a rack, or a peg off the wall, thereby strewing merchandize all over the floor, pick that up too. I am not your mom. It is my job to clean up after you, but since there are 400 of you, and one of me, it’d be great if you could at least make a small effort to keep this place neat. This all goes double for the shoe section.
  6. If you are one of those people who need to pick up one of every item and unfold it, hold it up and examine it, that is fine! But please, then, learn to fold things a little neatly, and do so. One of you folks can cut a swath through a section of my store in 10 minutes that will take me an hour to put right.
  7. If you pick something up, carry it around for awhile, then decide you don’t want it anymore, please don’t then HIDE that item behind the bath towels or boxes of diapers, or inside plastic tubs, or in the yogurt case, or under the bikes. Either continue carrying it and give it to the check-out person, or at least put it neatly on the end of a rack or table for us to quickly find and re-home.
  8. Be nice. Much like the stealing thing, this seems like it should have been covered way back in like, Kindergarten. But given the bad attitudes I get every day, I think some folks could use a refresher in good manners. If you are nice to me, I will be nice to you. I will be more likely to go out of my way to help you, which seems like exactly what you would want out of your interaction with me. If you treat me like a person and with kindness, even if I’ve had a crappy day, I will be nice to you. I will take you right to the item you want, offer to help you find it in a different size, let you know other places in the store where we carry something similar, clue you into that same thing in another color that just went clearance and is super cheap. If you treat me like an idiot, or are rude and hateful, I will politely point you in the right direction and leave you to it. Good service is a two-way interaction.

If any of these requests seem unreasonable to you, or like too much work, I regret (not much) to inform you that you might be a dick.

Happy Holiday Shopping, folks.


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