Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Old School Salesman

I met the most wonderful Salesman, Ted, at the Chicago Fur Outlet I was actually there to sell a shearling on consignment. I bought a really nice piece last year that just didn't work out for me.

Like any good sales people, Howard, the owner and Ted showed me around the store to make sure there wasn't a coat that I'd like to trade mine in for or use as a partial credit toward the purchase price.

As Ted, patiently watched me try on coat after coat, encouraging me to try different styles and lengths, he told me about his skill and experience as a retail salesman. He'd worked at the upscale stores in Chicagoland: Bloomingdales, Sax, Burberry's, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Field's. He told stories of selling dresses to brides, bathing suits and evening gowns to women and overcoats to men. He remembered his regular customers in detail. He has a passion for retail. He told stories of tailoring garments on the spot and making customers happy while protecting the profitability of the store. He talked about increasing sales of seldomly-purchased products at the perfume counter, how he'd help women select a fragrance that was right for them vs. the one that was currently being promoted.

It was an absolute pleasure spending an afternoon with Ted. He did find a perfect coat for me, a shearling, midlength with a shawl collar. It would be warm enough for the Chicago winters and casual enough to wear riding the El every day.

The coat is not in my budget today. I appreciate all the time and effort he took with me. When I didn't make a decision he responded "You are woman who knows what she wants and I appreciate that." I appreciated being appreciated.

As soon as the opportunity arises, I'll be back to visit with Howard and Ted because I know they will find the perfect coat for me. In addition to that, it was an enjoyable afternoon, a reprieve from the general hecticness of my days.

This type of retail experience is almost obsolete in the United States. Shopping has become an errand, people generally do not dress for work any more, stores are not willing to invest in quality sales people and customers are not loyal enough to those who do.

Unless we support businesses like Howard's and sales people like Ted, this type of shopping experience will be obsolete and we'll be resigned to running more errands . . .

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