Retail Jungle: How Learning the Ropes will Tame Hungry Salespeople

On a recent trip to Maui, I happened upon a lovely boutique with chic handmade fashions. Upon entering the store, I was greeted by two sales associates, who at first were pleasant and friendly. It went from, “How are you?” to one of them chatting me up like he was at his weekly therapy session within sixty seconds.

I was annoyed but empathetic to his sob story, as I casually took in all the colors, styles, and textures. The boutique had a sophisticated island vibe of which I was trying to get acquainted, but was continuously interrupted by comments and demonstrations of how the pieces worked. First, it was, “Watch how this silk bathing suit cover-up adjusts!” then it was “Look at this deep V-neck dress!” (my face shape prohibits me from wearing v-necks), and finally it was “Did you see the Mother-Daughter matching dress sets?”

By this time, I learned a great deal about his personal journey, and my style consultant hat was welding itself upon my head. Before I could stop the words from escaping my mouth, my carefree Aloha spirit transformed into work mode, and I began to share my passion for the color wheel and what I do for work. The three of us chatted about warm and cool tones, shape and body style. What started out as friendly industry talk, turned into what I would call a collapse in civility and a Darwin-like survival quest ensued.

Without Notice the Hungry Sales Person was picking out colors and pieces for me.

Without any notice, the associate who shared his journey, declared that he would NEVER dress me in blue. The other associate and I stood there like Muhammad Ali just socked us in the gut. Ouch! Where did that come from? I stood there in my teal and navy J.Crew tunic wondering what just happened? I defended myself by asking, “Which blue? His response, “All blues, I would choose purple for you.” I was relieved to hear that he didn’t suggest orange, a color that will never look good in my winter color palette wardrobe. He did not stop there, he pleaded to dress me and brought over two pieces: one a peach dress, the other a garment only Mrs. Roper from “Three’s Company” would wear.

I politely declined and retreated from the salesperson, maintaining my dignity and tact. As the saying goes, “It can be a jungle out there”, and retail is no exception. I am one of the lucky ones. I know what colors and styles work for me – and I do my best not to let hungry salespeople talk me into THEIR version of me. Before heading into the retail jungle, give yourself some time to learn the ropes about what works for, and on you.

1 Comment
  • Great article! I have had similar experiences and it can be quite frustrating!

    May 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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