I haven't worked in retail in almost 40 years, but if I remember anything, it's that the customer is always right. In other words, take care of the customer, make them feel welcome, make them want to spend
Or at the very least, "Don't creep the customer out."
We are looking for a new sofa. We thought we found just about the right one at the first place we looked, but you hate buying the first thing you see, right? So we tried another store, a nationally advertised chain – Rooms to Go.
Well, they have rooms, and they made me want to go.
It started when we walked into the door and took maybe three steps and a young woman leaped out from behind a cabinet. As she started talking to us, telling us her name and how she'd help and wondering what we were looking for, I looked over her shoulder. There was a whole line of sales people – at least four – lined up behind that cabinet, each waiting his or her turn to pounce on the next potential customer.
It looked a little like the ambush scene in "The Lone Ranger" (not the 2013 version that was roundly panned, but the 1981 version, which was also roundly panned) where the Texas rangers ride into the canyon ringed by Butch Cavendich's gunmen. And the effect was about the same, since it pretty much killed our desire to shop there.
Anyway, we told her we were just looking but if we had any questions ... And she repeated her name and told us she'd be happy to help.
Here's where it gets creepy. She stalked us. She was never too close, but always right there. We strolled through the story, sitting on virtually every sofa in the place, and I'll give them this, they have a lot of sofas. But every time I looked up, there she was, maybe 15 to 20 feet away, pretending not to know we were there, busy with the little pile of advertising flyers in her hand, never actually staring at us, but obviously waiting for us to decide we needed her help.
Obviously Rooms to Go pays its sales staff on commission.
Anyway, we worked our way through the store, sofa by sofa, with our silent companion tagging along.
I turned to Tori and asked, "What happens if we try to leave without buying anything? Will she jump us if we head for the door? Will I have to gnaw my arm off like a coyote?"
A couple of minutes later Tori looked over my shoulder and saw the woman about 20 feet away,talking with an older guy with some kind of ID tag around his neck, probably her sales manager wondering why she hadn't sold us a sofa yet.
"Quick!" Tori said. "She's distracted." We took a sharp left past the dining room sets and made it to the far corner of the showroom. We'd lost her! We carefully circled around, keeping an eye out, until we made it to the exit. There was still a ravening pack of salesmen there, but they were on the lookout for people coming in, not fleeing, and they didn't pay attention as we slipped out the door.
Back at the car, we looked back at the entrance. A family was walking up the steps, and a salesman, not content to let them come to him, had actually come out on the porch to waylay them.
What was next? Would they set up a roadblock on the street outside? Anything seemed possible.
We will be going back to the first store this weekend and getting a couch. It had a good selection of furniture, and better prices.
AND NOBODY FOLLOWED US AROUND.