Friday, December 19, 2014

Confessions of a Shop Assistant

Where I stand.

It wasn't a single incident that inspired this post, but the common occurrences that come up as an employee of two local boutiques.  I'm a consumer like everyone else, so I understand that point of view entirely.  But I think there may be misconceptions while shopping small business retail.  It is not (and shouldn't be) like going into a chain or department store.  Here are just a few truths from where I stand:

1.  I'm not being friendly just so you'll buy something.  I'm just friendly - period.   It can be awkward to shop in a small space without at least a little conversation, so humor me for a second.  I don't make commission, so there's no alternate agenda here.  Relax knowing that I simply want you to have a good experience.  Even if you don't buy anything, I hope you'll tell your friends or write a nice review.  At the very least, I hope you come back (unless you're a meanie).

2.  I rejoice over every purchase.  If a $4 hair bow goes out the door, I'm happy.  Even small purchases make me feel like I'm doing my job.  It all adds up.  At the end of the day, I report to the owner with numbers because numbers (black ones) are what pay my check and make a successful business.  THANK YOU for shopping, no matter how small.

3.  I'm aware that "it's' expensive".  If you're looking for a bargain, there's a Target right up the road.  We carry a limited quantity of specialty items.  Some things you would not be able to find anywhere else in the world.  I believe there's value in that.  You know how much I LOVE DEALS.  However, I realize that small businesses can't offer 50% off.  It's my job to support them, not rob them.  Which leads me to my next point...

4.  Nobody is getting rich here.  Just breaking even is a huge accomplishment.  That's 0% profit.  Our items may be more expensive, but they are also more costly for us at wholesale.  The markup on the knock-off you find at a chain retailer or online for 1/2 price is astronomically higher than our profit on the real, high-quality thing.  Let's say a small business gets something for $2 and sells it for $4. Target might get their version for $0.25 and sell it for $2.  They can discount it 75% and still make money.  #math

5.  Your returns suck.  Not exchanges or in-store credit, returns.  Even if I wasn't the one to help you with your initial purchase, it feels a lot like failure.  Don't get me wrong, I understand returns.  Buyers remorse is a powerful thing.  Sometimes you bring stuff home and it just doesn't look/feel/fit/perform how you anticipated.  Returns happen, but they still hurt.  And P.S.,  I can tell the difference between a defective item and something you ruined. IF I take it back, it's for the sake of superior costumer service, not because I'm fooled.


1 comment:

Creole Wisdom said...


I feel like so many of these apply to my work as a photographer as well as my past in boutique retail (at the Galleria!).

#Math is my favorite part... there is a total lack of awareness when it comes to the cost of running small businesses and the cost/mark up of actual products.