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This post is about the many different types of customers you get while working in retail at a kitchen store. Now not every customer I and other deal with day to day are terrible but the ones that are take it to the max! I hope you enjoy 🙂


The Narrator:  These are the folks who have to comment on every single thing in the store, how you use it, who you should buy it for, what their Aunt Bertha did with hers and did you know that if you use mineral oil on cutting boards, they won’t break down as quickly? If you’re lucky, they won’t demand that you listen to them.

The Cheapskate:  They always try to get a discount. Can you match this Bed Bath Beyond coupon? If you can’t, I’ll take my business elsewhere. If they do buy something, they will complain about the price and how they saw it elsewhere for X amount less as if they are hoping you will magically reduce it for them. If you’re so unlucky as to offer a stamp card, they will complain that you should have had it three years earlier when they bought a ton of stuff in the store. They will also complain if you don’t give them as many stamps as they think they deserve.

The Complainer:  Often also a cheapskate, but their complaints go beyond the price. They will find fault in every single product you have and then complain that you don’t have what they want.  Awful.

The Returner: To be clear, these are not the folks returning unwanted gifts or ones that are clearly defective. No, these are special people. They will come in to return a product that they bought anywhere from “several months ago” to “several years ago.” “Several” in this case can mean seven or eight. They will then swear they’ve never used it and demand their money back because they just have decided they don’t need it. Or that they don’t like it. The item has clearly been used or is one that you haven’t sold in five years, no longer sell, and don’t know the vendor. Be prepared to be yelled at. It’s going to happen. These special people will transform into the extra loud complainer to try to bully their way into getting their money back, as they figure you will do anything to get them out of the store. They also lose their ability to listen unless you utter the magic words, “Full refund.”

The Know it alls:  These ones are often narrators too especially if they’ve got a friend with them and want to show off. They will sometimes ask questions though just so they can “test” your knowledge and then tell their friend how you have no idea what you’re talking about. If there’s no friend around, be prepared for them to argue with you and follow each of your answers with another question. If they’re really awful, they’ll also give you “advice” on how you “should be” running the store.

The Grand Inquisitor:  The opposite of the know it all, almost to the point that you wonder how they managed to dress themselves. They will want to know exactly how something works, usually want you to open up the packaging of an item, and will mention that you need to have demonstrations. This will often be for something like how to make ice cubes.

The Lingerer: This is the person who comes in five minutes to close and decides it’s a good time to look at every single item in the store. If they get to the cookie cutter aisle, they might comment on how cute every single different cookie cutter is. If you ask them if you can help them find something, they will say that they are just looking around. After 30-45 minutes, they might buy one $2 item. If they’re real assholes, they’ll complain about “how early” you close.

The Diva: Will demand service as they are marching through the door. “Yoo hoo! Can I get some help over here?” as if they’ve been waiting for ages. They will likely dismiss all suggestions you make, any advice you have, and at some point you WILL have to get a ladder out to reach the items on the top shelf. Don’t put the ladder away—they won’t be buying the items.

The Destroyer: Rare, but when they come in, they will wreak havoc on your store. Got a nice display? You will be redoing it after they leave. Got tea towels? They will open every single one they like, and then wad them up and toss them back on the shelf. If a towel ends up on the floor, they won’t pick it up.  A tactile breed, they have the need to pick up all the items that catch their eye.  Hanging items and heavy ones are favorites. Got hanging pots? They will take them all down and then clank them against each other so much when they try to “put them back” that you will have to go do it yourself. Cutting boards? They will take the heaviest one and let the other ones on the shelf clack loudly after they yank it out. When they make it to the glassware aisle or the shelves of ceramics, you already know what’s going to happen. When they break something, they will grumble if they have to pay for it and will even have the nerve to ask for a discount because “it’s broken!”

The Gift Seeker:  They have no idea what they’re looking for and are hoping that you will magically propose the perfect gift for a person you don’t know at all.  You will actually start to wonder if the gift seeker knows the person at all. What do they like to cook? Uh… everything? What about a cookbook? No… Tea towels? No… Cheeseboard?  No… Pepper mill? Too expensive. Wisconsin cutting board? They’re from Minnesota.  Knives? They have them already.  Gadgets? No… A timer? No… An apron? No… Jars ceramics? Salt pig? Butter bell? No, No No! …But could you tell me how much those beautiful plates are?
Oh, the one-of-a-kind artisanal ones from Deruta, Italy? They’re $1,200 apiece.  Really? You’re never going to sell those. Nevermind. Guess I’ll look elsewhere. Both you and The Gift Seeker heave an enormous sigh.

The Regular:  These folks tend to be delightful and it’s fun to see how they’re building up their kitchen or how they tend to buy the same kinds of things. The older couple will probably get some Duralex after She inspects every single glass and He tells her he’s leaving for 5 minutes.  One will always pick up a few of the Le Parfait canning jars or bottles to make more Limoncello. That one young guy with the dark hair, grey eyes, and oddly smooth face will always buy a couple of cookbooks, usually for Asian cooking.

The Industry Folks: You can always tell if someone works for Sardine because they will ask for the bistro aprons. The bartenders from Merchant and Heritage always grab a couple of our zippity two-step wine openers. Graze or L’Etoile chefs/sous-chefs? Isi whipped cream dispensers or cartridges. A lot of the times they will still come in with their aprons on asking for a particular item and be disappointed by the number we carry or that we don’t have said item in stock.

The Phone Shopper: Probably one of the most irritating types. These people will call not only to ask if you have a particular item in stock, but also to ask you to describe it. This will involve talking about the shape, the color, the price, the material, how it feels, how to use said item, and even measurements. They may also ask you to tell them all of the brands that you carry and get testy if you tell them that you carry over 50 and ask to specify what they’re looking for. On top of it, the reception is terrible as they are usually on a cell phone and walking around outside or driving. After at least 10 minutes on the phone, they will more often than not decide that they might come in to see for themselves if they would like the item, which is what they should have done in the first place, dammit.

The Tourist: They are not here to shop. They come in to ask if you have a restroom they could use or if you can recommend a good place to eat downtown or if you know where any clothing stores are or where Lucile’s or Marigold is. They might come in after lunch to buy a few cookie cutters or the animal creamers, but usually you will never see them again.

The Early Birds: These are the folks who are waiting for you to open. If they see you go into the store at 9:30, they will try to follow you in even though you don’t open until 10:00. They may even say that they’re glad that you’re “finally opening.” If they don’t actually see you enter but notice that you’re in the store, they will try to open every door they can find and may even resort to knocking or tapping on the glass because obviously you’re not answering them because you’re oblivious to their presence. They have no idea that opening a store involves more than unlocking the doors and turning on the lights.  God forbid you put the “Open hours” sign out a few minutes too early, as they will take it as “dirty trick” when they find the doors are still locked.

The Brunchers/The Diners: These annoying folks will come in just to kill time while they wait for their table to open up at one of the nearby restaurants. They are not interested in buying anything but will often turn into Narrators or will at least have loud conversations with their entourage so that you will have no choice but to be alerted to their presence. At the same time, they will avoid looking at you because they absolutely do not want you to ask if they need your help. After all, they took one of the few free parking spots downtown so they could get an extra bloody mary with their omelet and potatoes. No way they’re going to spend that saved cash on kitchen items. Incidentally, the brunchers and the diners often fall into the Early Bird and Late Browser categories.

The Hens : They usually flock in in groups of 4 or more and will be very loud. Like The Narrator, they need to comment on every single thing they pick up. They will usually loudly criticize items or complain about how the store does not sell a particular item. (“I can’t believe they still don’t have it. I told them all about it AGES ago!”) At the register, they will continue talking amongst themselves and barely acknowledge your presence to the point that you feel like you’re interrupting them when you tell them the total.

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