“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love”…and parking is impossible to find at the mall. Although more and more people are doing their shopping online, those of you who can’t quite get your act together in time have to suck it up and brave the actual stores – and, often, your experiences with the employees of these stores can make or break your trip. Sure, the customer is always right, but piss off the person behind the cash register and you may find that all of the copies of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas have somehow magically disappeared. Likewise, be good to your salesperson, and she might just be able to get you those earrings your mother is desperate for – even if the store’s out of stock, and Christmas is two days away. In the spirit of the season, therefore, and as the PopGurl Most Likely to be Ringing Up Your Purchases, I’ve put together a little something to get you through the next week smoothly, and with as little threatened bodily harm as possible.
1. Plan ahead. If you want something very popular or hard to find, you probably should have tracked it down already. Although we’d like to sell you your chosen item, we can’t make it magically appear out of the air. Give us time to get it, or be satisfied with wrapping up a picture of it.
2. Be aware of store hours of operation. If you walk into the store five minutes before we close and wander up and down the aisles with a distracted air, it is likely you will soon be getting the Look of Death from every employee on the floor. If, on the other hand, you know exactly what you want and/or you’re buying something that costs a small fortune, we will be glad to keep the store open an extra few minutes, and will even smile as we unlock the door to let you out. Expensive purchases cover a myriad of etiquette sins.
3. Keep it simple. If we tell you there are five of the item you want, and one is at the bottom of a TOWERING PILE OF OTHER MERCHANDISE, make everyone’s life a little easier and choose from amongst the other four. Your gift recipient will never know the difference.
4. If we did an especially good job, tip. Even if there isn’t a tip jar. It’s what buys us the chocolate that gets us through.
5. A little patience goes a long way. When we offer to wrap your gift – for free – give us at least a full five minutes before you start sighing and checking your watch. As much as we might sometimes wish it, we can’t just wave our hand over the box and be done with it.
6. Pricing is set where it is for a reason…and 99 percent of the time that reason is not, “Because we’re trying to screw the customer out of an obscene amount of money.” If something seems absurdly overpriced to you, don’t buy it. Shouting “Oh my god, can you believe how much they want for this Big Wheel/sweater/Harry Potter figurine?” accompanied by loud gasps and snorts of disgust, will only scare away the person who was considering buying it, and cause a homicidal gleam to spring into the sales staff’s eyes.
7. And on a related note, I’m glad y’all are crafty, but if you’re going to knock something off, don’t talk about it while you’re still in the store. Hearing “Hey, I could make that for you out of some stuff I was going to throw out from my basement,” does very little to warm the cockles of a retail worker’s heart.
8. Keep an eye on your small children. Either that, or don’t be upset when you discover you have ten broken glasses to buy.
9. If you need help, ask. Much like the international check-writing gesture, nothing makes me seethe more than someone standing across the store and crooking their finger at me. Plus, with the calories you burn walking over to me, you’ll be able to eat another half of a Christmas cookie!
10. Men shopping for lingerie take heed. willa lived through three holiday seasons at Victoria’s Secret, and wanted to toss one in specifically for the boys. So guys, your wife/girlfriend/mistress may be the type of person who enjoys getting lingerie as a gift. But please, I beg of you, keep just two things in mind when you’re shopping for her. 1) What you think is sexy and what she thinks is sexy are quite possibly two entirely different things. What you buy her might make her feel like the fattest, ugliest woman alive. Please use restraint, and go for a classy slip and robe combo instead of the white merry widow with white fishnet stockings. You want her to feel good about your purchase, and not like a cheap whore. 2) Avoid coming on to the sales girls. Do not, for instance, walk up to a girl half your age and tell her your wife is about her size. Do not ask for assistance with bras and then stare at her cleavage while she sells you the matching panties. Do not joke about being “so bad at this” and fondle all the garments like a loser. Be respectful of your lady friend and your salesperson, and you might make it through the holiday with all your body parts intact.
11. Finally, and this one is really important, Read and understand the return policy. If you don’t see it posted somewhere, ask. It will save all of us frustration in the future, and you’ll know just how long you have to trade in the ceramic bear you got from Grandma for something you really want.