I recall accompanying my mother shopping
in the late ‘50’s and early 1960’s.
This wasn’t Saks Fifth Avenue, mind you,
just local retailers, independently owned.
Upon entering the premises, a sales associate
immediately offered assistance.
The clerk queried to determine customer needs.
Items were pulled and brought to the dressing room.
The sales associate checked back regularly to clear
unwanted merchandise and bring additional sizes or styles.
A seamstress was ready with tape measure and pins in hand.
Basic tailoring of apparel was complimentary.
Items purchased were neatly bagged, boxed or placed
on hangers, once wrinkles were removed with a steamer.
Regular customers were addressed by name.
Sales associates became familiar with the individual
preferences of customers and often gave a heads up
when new merchandise arrived which might suit
their particular needs.
Fast Forward to 1985
My mother needed a new spring jacket. I accompanied her
to a local mall. It took a few minutes, but we finally located
the coat department.
Two sales associates were busy straightening and
stocking merchandise. Neither greeted us or asked
if they could be of help.
My mother was short on energy and patience. I started
browsing the racks, picked up some items, ushered
her back to the dressing room and helped her on and
off with jackets.
Another trip to the floor found both sales associates absent.
I gathered up more items and… BINGO… found a winner.
When we exited the dressing room, the sales associates
had magically reappeared and were standing at the register
When I caught their attention, they began arguing about
whose sale it was. Although ready to blow a gasket,
I calmly explained the obvious…I had done all the work
helping my mother and the sale was rightfully mine.
Jaws dropped in unison.
The transaction was completed forthwith and we were
on our way. (I never received my commission check.)
Fast Forward to 2016
A trip to a big box retailer is easily a half-marathon event
that requires navigating an arena-sized facility where
unsuspecting customers can spend the rest of their lives
unless they leave a trail of bread crumbs behind them.
And don’t count on those employees decked out in matching headsets to acknowledge your existence.
The best I can determine, they only communicate with each other… or maybe Mars.
Meanwhile, brick and mortar stores wonder why more and more people choose to shop online.
It’s quite simple.
We prefer to be ignored in the comfort of our own homes.