Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the days are long

Let me describe the place to you. It's an outdoor mall. Large coverings, boats on the ground interspersed between walking paths and shops. Blue and white motif. A water spitting dolphin that hardly works.

But, the place is kept in pretty decent shape. And it's been around for a while.

We got the place we're at... well, read the previous entry. But it's been good to us thus far and the guy who owns the place isn't bad. Nice guy, good personality.

The mall hours are 10-6 every day, all year. The season... well, that really depends on who you talk to. Could be the season starts in November and goes to end of April. Or January to May. The summer months are dead.

Or they aren't.

I can't really get a solid answer from anyone around here, but the one thing I do know is that we need to make $125 a day to break even. And that's not a lot of money.

Retail is a strange universe. The customer is king. Always. Smiles on the faces of employees. No attitude. So important. These are simple things, but depending on the temperment of your customers, can be sometimes difficult, something trying.

I spend 4 days a week working for my family's business, at the retail shop. I am there alone, with only my trusty laptop and the occasional movie or television show on DVD. And they are the most boring days of my week, bar none.

Truth be told, I don't really have non-boring days. I don't drive (not yet, anyway) and if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford gas. But I do need to get a license. For a number of reasons.

So while I wait my life out in 8 hour increments at the store, my weekends are filled in my apartment, day after day, trapped. It sucks, but for now it's life and I'm trying to make the best of it. The grocery store is in walking distance, as is the local movie theater. Good thing, too.

Let's get back to the store.

I'd like to describe a few things we do here. First, we make, or finalize, most every product we sell. All the soaps are ours. The bath gels and the body lotions, we mix all of those. By hand.

The sugar scrubs, we're provided the base. We now do all the coloring and fragrancing ourselves.

Same with the body butter. We have a facility making our mud masks and a brand new body wash for us.

The shop smells wonderful. So many great fragrances mingled together. Occasionally we get the one or two customers who say the smell is too strong and they can't stand it. And leave.

So be it.

The other day... yesterday in fact. Hell, it's why I didn't write about it yesterday. It's one of those many situations I've had here where I wish that there was a reality tv show crew following me around.

This old woman came in (old meaning late 50's, early 60's), eating ice cream, comes into the shop with her daughter and son in law. And she's looking for something. I hate those customers that look like they're looking for something and don't ask. I'm here to help you. Ask me.

So she says "They don't have it. Wait, they do have it!"

I ask what are you looking for?

She says "Soap with stuff in it. Like palm trees or something." She's lifting a bar of our new Jasmine and Shea Butter soap. I say "Oh, ok, yeah we have lots of different soaps to choose from."

Our soaps come in loafs that we cut into slices for our customers.

So her daughter grabs one of our Pinky Bird slices and she goes "Mom, check this out, isn't this great?"

"Oh my god, that's so ugly."

And that's when I lost my... holy cow. I had to walk out of the store.

It is impossible to not take this personally. I'm not selling Irish Spring. Or Lever 2000. My family makes that soap. And we sell a shitload of it.

Ok, well, kind of a shit load. Not, you know, where we can retire.

But I had to leave the store. I was so ready to say something. And this isn't the first time this has happened. People think that they're at home, smelling samples that some woman is trying to sell out of her briefcase (we do this too, btw) and can try and strike up a personal accord with them, and tell their likes and dislikes in the comfort of their home.

And they can be rude, because it's their home. I know, some people are assholes.

But this, to me, was crossing the line. Don't insult me, my family, my shop, because you don't like something. Keep your opinions to yourself. Or share them when you leave. But don't insult me. Or my product.

I have a great time with customers too. Don't get me wrong. For every customer like this one, I get the other old woman, with two broken wrists, who messes with me and says she'd like a free hand spa treatment.

We advertise free hand spa treatments outside our store.

She comes in with two casts and says "Give me a hand spa treatment!"

It was too funny. She said she was messing with me. I laughed. Her husband laughed.

Of course, they didn't buy anything.

Which brings me to my second point today. Today alone I had a 80% turnaway rate. 10 people came into the store. 2 bought. They were decent sales, above $30, so that's always nice. But... you know, I have no idea if anyone's reading this yet, but I'll have to provide you with some photos so you can see the place. It's nice. We have some more work to do (This week in fact) but it looks nice.

I don't know. Those turnaways are annoying. People who peak their head in. People who walk around and TOUCH EVERYTHING, and SAMPLE EVERYTHING and leave.

I know, it's why the samples are there. And looking never hurts. But all day, every day, and those people who get their free hand spa treatment who go "Oh my god, my hands have never felt this soft before... bye!" and they leave.

WTF? I would never, ever do that. I'd never have someone spend that much time to help me and then leave at the quickest convenience, especially if I liked the product, which they alllllllll do.


Time to leave.

Drop me a line, let me know you're out there reading.


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