Shopping Assistance

I don’t know how all of you feel about shopping, but depending on the item, I love it.

I like shopping for furniture, electronics, books and music.

But what I love shopping for most of all is outerwear.

Jackets. Peacoats. Track Jackets for running. Sweaters. Dressy coats. Rain coats. I love them all. Seriously, I think an unhealthy portion of my closet is dedicated to coats.

There is certainly one type of jacket that I am lacking in, which is a puffy jacket. I want to remedy that problem immediately with this:


Or something very similar to it, anyway.

One thing I love about living in San Francisco is the lack of any kind of significant weather. The only problem is that occasionally, weather shows up and I have absolutely no clothing that will work. I’ve been freezing for days, with the temperatures in the 40s, nearly down into the upper 30s. Really not that cold in the grand scheme of winter, but in San Francisco, it’s damn nippy. I have no outerwear to deal with these types of “frigid” conditions. I’ve been wearing a thermal long-sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved zipped hoodie and a woolen peacoat and the wind and cold are just blowing right through me. The peacoat isn’t very thick and it’s just not working out. I need a puffy jacket. Stat.

My co-workers and I went out for lunch yesterday. Over a steamy bowl of chicken udon, I explained my intense desire to purchase a coat and I suggested that on our way back to work we stop at the store down the street that sells North Face stuff. They agreed and soon I was surrounded by jackets. Unfortunately, their women’s selection was sort of lacking. I found one jacket that was kind of okay….but it was brown. I’m not really into brown. Finally, a purple jacket presented itself and I lifted it up off the rack, thinking it was sort of cute, and maybe I’d try it on. But it was locked to the clothing rack. Turns out all of the jackets were. I decided I’d ask someone to let me try it on, but I wanted to look around a little more first.

Then a salesperson swooped down on me and asked me if I needed help.

I told her I was just looking.

Then she proceeded to follow me around the store and stand about 4 feet away from me, no matter where I went.

I didn’t like it.

Perhaps I am in the minority, but I don’t really like being assisted by salespeople. I prefer to shop alone (or with the people I came to the store with, in this case, my co-workers), and then if I need a sales associate, I’ll ask for them. I don’t like to feel pressured. I don’t want to hear their opinions on how something looks on me. I just want to do my own thing.

Now, it’s a-okay if an employee comes over and asks me if I need help ONE time. Then I either take them up on it, or I say “No thank you, I’m just looking.” But when the person follows me around, non-stop I start to get mad, and even if I wanted something in the store, I probably wouldn’t buy it just because I didn’t like being hounded by the staff. In my opinion, there are only three reasons to hound someone while they are shopping:

1) To get a commission.

This is fine. If you want to race over the second I make up my mind so you can take it to the register and get credit for helping me, that’s cool. I don’t care. Just make yourself available and when it’s time, you can take my items to the counter. But if you stalk me like some kind of large wild cat, waiting to pounce on its prey, I will make it my mission in life to ensure that you GET NOTHING.

2) You think I’m stealing.

I hate being profiled when I’m shopping. When I was a teenager, I remember going to Camelot records because I wanted to buy a copy of Puccini’s “La Boheme”. This is the opera whose libretto Jonathan Larson modernized when he created the musical “RENT”. As you all know, I’m a RENThead, so I wanted to go back to the original source. The employees there kept staring at me as I shopped, trying to figure out which recording was the cheapest. Finally, one of them came up and demanded that I show them my bags. I was completely shocked and just handed them over. Obviously, they contained no stolen music. I then purchased the CDs from them. If that happened today, I’d refuse to let my bags be searched and like hell I’d buy anything from them.

3) You think I can’t afford your merchandise.

Once I was birthday shopping for my mother and I went to a jewelry store to buy some earrings. I had every intention of  spending a good chunk of change on the present. The employee kept following me around, which as I’ve said, I find annoying to begin with. Then after about 10 minutes of following me, she came over to the case I was looking at and said, “Why don’t you come and take a look at these items over here. The ones you are looking at have REAL gems in them and are too expensive….these ones over here have glass ones and will be much more reasonable for you.” Yeah. I totally turned around and walked right out of there.

So I’m a sistah
Buy things with cash
That really doesn’t mean that all my credit’s bad, oooh
So why dispute me and waste my time
Because you really feel the price is high, for me
I can’t look without being watched, and oh
You rang my buy before I made up my mind, OW!

–“Free Your Mind”, En Vogue

I know that in that song, they’re talking about racial profiling, but even so, that is exactly how I get treated when I walk into stores sometimes. Maybe the chucks and messy ponytail throw them off, but frankly, I don’t care. I’m a customer, and I deserve respect.

At any rate, I have no idea why the employee was following me around yesterday. I just know I was made uncomfortable by her close proximity, and that coupled with their not so awesome selection meant that I went back to work without a puffy jacket.

Wish it had worked out differently though. I’m really cold.

Huh. I must be feeling a little better….I just ranted! Yay! Silver lining!

What kind of shopper are you? Do you like assistance or do you like to do your own thing?

10 thoughts on “Shopping Assistance

  1. That is super annoying. I find that using the line “No, I prefer to shop by myself. I will let you know if I need anything though.” usually works and makes them go away.

  2. Clerks who profile you as a shoplifter piss me the hell off. How they could be so wrong, and be so offensive about it, is beyond me.

    That said, the profiling usually happens to my boyfriend, not me.

    The most annoying clerks I’ve come across are at the Best Buy here in Reno. They all swoop down on me because I must look like a helpless girl (hello… web developer? I know more about computer architecture than most of them do). And yet, mysteriously, when I actually DO have a question (like where the hell do you put your iPad accessories? Answer: Buried on the bottom shelf between the Macs and the computer games) there isn’t a single clerk to be found.

    Anyway, to answer your question — I’m either happily browsing alone, or I’m on a mission. In either case, it’s nice to at least be greeted (so if I am, in fact, on a mission, I can say, “Hi, I’m fine, how are you, do you carry this?” — and then I push a product printout in their face).

    1. I’m usually not willing to be that confrontational. I just leave.

      It is cute! I went down to The North Face store here in San Francisco to see if they had it in stock; they didn’t. I didn’t really like the jackets they had enough to commit to one. Going to the store, however, let me get an idea of their clothing’s fit. I can be anything from a Small to a Large, so I like to buy clothes in person so I can try them on. I learned that their women’s lines run a little small, so I went to the official website, ordered the above pictured jacket in a large and had it shipped to the store for pick up so I could save on shipping.


    1. I don’t wear most of mine either. I’m a creature of habit…I wear the same thing over and over and over.

      But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to shop for new things! 😉

  3. Re. #2 – Isn’t that just the worst part of shopping, especially when we were teenagers? The Tower Records/Circuit City complex at Stonestown was awful. I remember walking out of Circuit City after being hounded multiple times by salesclerks. I was with a group of people, can’t remember if you were there, and I think it was Nicky who was shopping for something simple like headphones. But after about 5 minutes he decided that he wasn’t going to do business with a store that treated him like a thief. And as for Tower, that whole nonsense of mandatory bag checking for anyone who looked under 18 was just stupid.

    Funny how neither of those stores are still in business.

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