Retail establishments are just not what they used to be. But apparently, I am living in the past.
I need some new flats. The sort of flats that are a combination of athletic wear and svelteness. In keeping with today’s casual lifestyle–you know–you can wear them comfortably to walk the dog over cobblestones, and yet they look just fine with black pants in the bistro.
I went to my local shoe store. This store has been around for years. I took my toddlers there for their first shoes. It is the kind of place where there are “foot measurers” and those low stools for the salespeople to sit on when they put your shoes on for you. And I am telling you right now that this is a travesty.
I wore my old flats to the store. I felt that by doing this, the helpful salesperson would know exactly what I was looking for.
SALESWOMAN: “May I help you?” Gee, she’s a little scowly…
ME: Motioning to my feet, “Yes. I am looking for another pair of flats like these.”
HER: Still not smiling, “We don’t sell that style any more.”
ME: “I realize that. But I am looking for this type of flat. You know, with the cushioning, athletic-type sole.”
HER: “Look around. All of our shoes are displayed on the shelves along the walls.”
I immediately had a question that I was unable to ask her, as she had already walked away. Why on earth did she ask me if she could help me if she had no intention of doing it? Is this the new normal? Is there no training for salespeople these days? And if that is all they do, why have them at all? Just one person at the stockroom door and another at the cash register would be sufficient.
I began to wander around, looking at all the shoes. There were quite a few that looked promising, so I picked them up. Pretty soon, it was a struggle to browse with all those shoes in my arms, and luckily, another saleswoman, one who had probably been trained in 1968, approached.
NEW SALESPERSON: “Would you like me to look for these in your size? I would be happy to take them for you. What size do you need? And I see you are looking for stylish walking shoes. When I am in the stockroom, may I bring out a few other styles you might like? Just have a seat, and I will be back in a moment.”
I sat down and looked for my original salesperson. She was leaning on the flip-flop endcap, checking her phone–probably for texts from her bae (whatever that is). I vowed to make an example of her. When new salesperson came back with six shoeboxes, I shook my head and said to her, “See that young woman over there? The one with the phone? She offered to help me when I walked in…”
New saleswoman smiled broadly. “Oh, yes! That is my daughter! She has been working here for six months! She just loves shoes. It’s a match made in heaven, don’t you think?” She chuckled.
I swallowed my gum.