an open letter to shoppers

So, I work in retail.  At a toy store.  Everyone thinks it’s all fun and games, but it’s retail and some days it sucks worse than others.  One thing that’s been interesting is how just one customer can make or break the entire day.

So, dear people who visit retail establishments — aka ALL OF US — here are some things, some tips, just for you to ensure you get better service AND to let me have a better day.  (Most of these will be toy store centric, but I think they apply almost anywhere.)

  1. Probably the golden rule of retail, if you want good service get off of your cell phone. If you ask me for help, I’m assuming you want my complete attention to help you find that perfect gift for Little Johnny or Susie, so I expect to get a good deal of your attention back.  A lot of times I don’t even greet people who are yammering away on their phones when they walk in — or, if I do, it’s loud and to the point that I want to interrupt your conversation… more than once.
  2. Very close to the golden rule, do not get annoyed when I come up and ask you if you need help. It’s my job.  Our store is known for customer service.  We’re supposed to greet everyone who comes in and ask if we can help you find anything or if you need any suggestions.  If you don’t, then I’ll tell you if you do have questions to ask me later.  I will check in on you later, just to see that you’re still doing all right.  I’m not here to be your servant, but I am here to help.  So stop with the attitude.
  3. If you’re buying gifts, for the love of all things good, know the kid you’re shopping for! Yes, I get that Little Johnny and Susie have a class of 30 and you don’t know everything, but before you get to the store ask your kid questions about their friend.  Get some sort of idea.  I can show you about 50 things for a 5 or 6 year old boy or girl.  But if you tell me it’s a 5 year old boy that’s active and can’t sit still, then I won’t waste your time showing you all these strategy games they won’t have the attention span for.
  4. If you’re shopping a locally owned store, stop comparing us to larger chains like Wal-Mart or Target (or Toys-R-Us).  Or at least don’t tell us you could get it cheaper there.  Great.  Awesome.  Go there if you want cheap toys.  Our clientele come here because of our awesome and unique selection, and mostly for our customer service.  So if cost is your only concern, just leave.
  5. If you pick something up, put it back where it goes — if you don’t know, then just give it to us.  Stop misshevling products. Most of my day is spent reorganizing products.  There are so many people who put things less than one foot away from where they actually belong.  They couldn’t just look 6 inches to the right to see, oh hey, that’s where those bead kits go, not here in front of the paint-a-gnome kit.  I will indeed stop helping you (momentarily, of course) to re-shelf something you misplaced 2 seconds earlier.
  6. A lot of people come through our store, please don’t be offended if I don’t remember you. It’s not you.  Really.  I’ll probably recognize you, or two seconds later realize you’ve been in the store before… but really, so many families come through so often.
  7. This should be common sense: if you use the store bathroom, always flush and wash your hands — teach your kids to do the same. It’s sad that it needs to be said.
  8. Yes. We took the price tag off before we wrapped your gift.

I think mostly, what you, dear shopper, need to remember is that we retail workers are indeed people.  We have bad days.  We deal with a lot of stupid questions.  We deal with a lot of screaming, terribly behaved children.  (We also deal with a lot of terribly behaved adults too.)  We don’t ask for much.  Just some common sense and courtesy.

your local toy seller