Christmas Shopping Fails: Going Into “Upscale” Shops And Employees Making You Feel Like You Don’t Belong There

December 18, 2012  |  

How fun is Christmas shopping!?

If you could see me right now, you would know that the sarcasm in my voice as I read this out loud is major. Christmas shopping is very difficult. If you’re not dealing with a big family to shop for but with less than baller funds, you’re buying gifts for people who never wear or use what you spent good money on. Successful Christmas shopping all depends on the reaction you get on the big day, and up until then, you can only sit back, wait, and wonder if what you bought will knock some socks off.

Seeing as how very underwhelming all that is, things can get ten times worse when you have an experience like I did early this morning. Feeling a bit inspired after a good night’s sleep to go out and shop on 5th Avenue, I got up, got dressed and tried to get in the holiday spirit. Being that it was still relatively early (I left the house at late 9 a.m.), I went out in clothes that I would later return home and go work out in. Some yoga tights with combat boots, a long tunic-like shirt, my long utility coat, (which covered my tight-adorned booty), and a long colorful scarf. Did I look like something out of the pages of Vogue? Uh, no, but I didn’t know you had to be all Style to Steal just to Christmas shop with thousands of other people. Indifferent, I headed to a very popular jewelry and accessories shop on 5th Avenue, jamming with my Beats by Dr. Dre headphones on. When I entered the store, it was gorgeous! A huge Christmas tree covered in gold tinsel, clutches and bracelets in candy colors–it was enchanting at first glance. I pulled my headphones down around my neck and proceeded to shop around, half browsing, but half keeping an eye out for the pieces I was interesting in picking up for my mother that I had seen online.

As I walked over to a tall section of bold bracelets, I stared hard, looked them over, touched them a little bit. To the right of me were two employees, chatting it up and laughing about whatever. When I looked their way to see if they were even going to greet me, they looked at me kind of weird, and then looked back at each other and kept talking. I didn’t let that that bother me, but as I moved around the store, I noticed many other employees treated me in a similar manner, and I wasn’t appreciating it…

As I went to another room, I looked at fly bracelets with bright Swarovski crystals. When I picked one of them up to make sure it would be long enough or big enough for my mom’s wrist, that’s finally when someone finally walked over and asked me if everything was all right: “Oh yeah, I was just wondering, if this is too short for a person’s wrist, can an extra link or two be added?” She quickly said no, but that I could return it. I smiled thinking that she, out of all these lazy employees, would finally offer me some steady help, starting by asking me the million dollar question: “So, what is it exactly that you’re looking for?” But she walked away quickly and proceeded to get on the phone behind the register for someone else.

Another employee, a young man, was working in that room, and I felt him watching me, but definitely not helping me. When I looked up to ask him a question, he walked away and talked with other customers. With my Beats headphones on, my locs and my colorful, dare I say, tackalicious outfit, I thought that maybe I looked like a broke a** teenager to the employees and felt a little embarrassed. While I didn’t try and adjust my ensemble, I put the headphones away and kept shopping. However, I couldn’t help but feel like the lack of help and attention (positive that is) I was receiving was a way for someone to let me know I didn’t really belong in the place. I became pretty uncomfortable with the whole scenario, so I decided to scoop up the gifts I knew my mom and my boyfriend’s little sister would like, and hurried to get the hell out of there. And guess who was more than ready to help me out at the register? The same guy who avoided me the whole time I was there, this time very giddy: “Were you ready to checkout!?”

As I stepped up to the register and pulled out my fancy wallet, the guy was finally looking at me, a smile on his face. When he asked me was I helped in picking up the bracelet and other items, I thought for a sec–did that girl REALLY help me?–and I confidently said “No.” He said nothing, and I wasn’t surprised. I could feel that the girl who answered my question earlier was staring at me from the other register, and I didn’t care. With all the energy she put into everyone else, I knew she really didn’t think she did a damn thing for me now did she?

I get it. I used to be a sales assistant trying to survive in different retail stores during the holidays. It can be terrible, and it can be VERY terrible when you put a lot of attention on a needy customer who walks out empty handed. However, it’s part of your job, so you should do it, not pick and choose who looks like they’re worth the time and energy. I didn’t have a million and one questions for these people, and in all honesty, as you read, I could move my way around and figure out most things on my own. Yet and still, it’s the principle of it all. Don’t go through hell and high water for the older white woman who later tells you they’re going to change their mind on a product, and ignore me, a paying customer, because I don’t look like a soccer mom or a city girl with a very big disposable income. You can’t judge what’s in my wallet based on what I look like or how eclectic my attire is, and you shouldn’t try to. While I’m sure the recipients of the gifts I bought at this boutique will definitely appreciate them, I didn’t appreciate my experience in the store, and I definitely won’t be back.

Have you dealt with a lack of customer service like this while shopping? Have people made you uncomfortable in their place of business?

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