Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ten Ways to Be a Good Holiday Shopper

Ten Ways to Be a Good Shopper During the Holidays

The December holidays are nearly upon us, and even though Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice are still a good six weeks away, many of my friends are gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of Black Friday shopping. Everyone claims they think Black Friday is an awful concept, but y’all are still going to do it, and by about noon, at least one of you will have made some poor retail employee hate you. Why? Because while there are plenty of tips on how to get the best deals, there are rarely any suggestions on how to shop without being an asshole.

Thus, gentle reader, as someone who will be at work at 7:30 Friday morning to greet the squeeing masses, I have an early Christmas present for you. Here are some tips on how to be a good shopper - the kind of shopper that makes me think, “Wow, the last ten people were dicks, but this guy was just SO NICE.”  Follow these guidelines, and it’s quite possible that you - and the people who are getting paid just slightly more than minimum wage to put up with your shenanigans - will have a much better experience.

Feel free to use these the rest of the year too.

1. Be Patient.
    Yeah, I know you’ve been out there in your sleeping bag since 5 am so you could get the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever. So have the other nine hundred people. Guess what. You’re gonna have to wait your turn. Employees will help you when they can. Don’t be a dick, and understand that YOU'RE SHOPPING ON BLACK FRIDAY. No matter how many employees are working, it’s not going to be enough, so suck it up and play Angry Birds on your phone for a few minutes.

2. Read the Fine Print.
    If the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever is on sale for a special price, and the ad says down at the bottom “While Supplies Last,” then guess what? After the store runs out, they no longer will be able to give you that special price. If that happens, accept that you didn’t get there in time. Move on, instead of throwing a tantrum.

3. Use Some Common Sense.
    Ethel the Employee is helping a customer, she’s also answering the phone, and she’s trying to look up something on a computer while four other people are waiting for her assistance. Walking up behind her and saying “Scuse me I just got a quick question!” is not cool. Use your brain, and get in line like everyone else. There are no quick questions, other than “Where’s the bathroom?”
    And it’s along the back wall under the blue Catch-22 sign.

4. Common Sense Part 2
    You see an employee wearing a name tag, but also carrying her car keys, a cup of coffee, and her purse. What do you do?

a. Ask her to help you locate that special color Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever that you can’t find because someone just took the last one but you’re sure there’s some in the back even though you've already been told they're all gone.
b. Recognize that she’s probably off the clock and leave her the hell alone.

Choose wisely, young Jedi.

5. Don’t Argue.
    Yes, we know the online price for the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever is cheaper than it is in the store. That’s because it’s online, and you have to wait for shipping. You can argue all you want, but that’s not going to make me sell you the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever at the online price. If it makes you feel better, think of the extra cost as your Instant Gratification Tax.
    Also, don’t yell at me because I won’t price match, just because you know Best Buy and Target will do it. Best Buy is selling $2500 flat screens, so there’s a bit of wiggle room. You’re buying a six dollar paperback with a 10% Membership Discount and a coupon. How much more of a discount do you think I can give you? Spend the extra $1.03 and move on.

6. Shit Happens.
    Sometimes people make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes will inconvenience you. If a cashier accidentally gives you the wrong change, or the guy at Customer Service points you in the wrong direction, it’s okay. It’s not done out of maliciousness or even incompetence, it’s done because it’s Black Friday and we have nine hundred people in our face screaming because we just ran out of the latest Bill O’Reilly book and there’s not enough coffee in the world to alleviate the hell that we are in. Be patient, wait your turn, and let whoever made the mistake fix it, without you making their day even more miserable.

7. Know What You Want.
    My favorite customers, all kidding aside, are the ones who come in with a list. They know exactly what they want, they just need me to show them where it is. Good for you, people - buy your stuff, and continue being awesome. My second favorite customers are the ones who aren’t sure what they want, but they are happy to take suggestions. Need a book for a ten year old boy who reads at an eighth grade level and likes monsters and magic? I’ve got a good dozen ideas for you, here they are, and you can pick which one works best for your little gift recipient.

8. Gift Cards Are Good.
    You have to pick out a present for that cousin you haven’t seen in eight years and you have no idea what he likes because you don’t talk to him anyway, but now he’s showing up for Christmas dinner. Great! Seriously, it’s perfectly okay to get him a gift card. Most people love them, because it allows them to go select their very own present at a later date. If you feel weird about it, remember that gift cards help the economy too - we get a sale when you buy the card, and we get a sale when someone comes in to redeem it.

9. Be Prepared.
    You’ve done it! You got your Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever and now you’re waiting in line at the cash register. While you’re waiting, it’s a good time to do things like dig out all those coupons and your discount membership card, as well as write out the date and retailer’s name on your check that you’re still using even though everyone except your grandma is using debit cards today. Don’t wait til the last minute to count out your spare change, and don’t ask the cashier to wait while you run and get that damn Elf on the Shelf that you promised to by for little Skippy but you forgot to pick up. Also, if you need gift receipts, tell the cashier BEFORE they start ringing things up, not after you’ve paid and they’re waving the next customer down to the register.

10. Don’t Be an Asshole.
    Nothing says Happy Birthday Baby Jesus like making some minimum wage cashier cry. I tell all the new seasonal people at work that they don’t get paid to be abused, and if someone is being mean to them, let a manager (or someone who’s got thicker skin and gives no shits) know about it.
    I guarantee you, if you come into my store, and you make an employee cry (especially our poor little Noobs who are on their very first job ever), there is a special place in hell reserved just for you. Try to remember that the whole point of the holidays is to celebrate the love you have for your family and whatever faith it is you follow. Celebrate it by not being an asshole to people who don’t deserve it.


  1. Oh, this is WONDERFUL!!! Been there on the running-the-register side as well as the parting-with-cash-OMG side. Best List EVER!!! Patti, you ROCK!!
    ((((Special HUGS for Black Friday Worker)))

  2. Great post! I hope everybody reads this and remembers it on Black Friday. As well as every other day they are out shopping.

  3. "Nothing says Happy Birthday Baby Jesus like making some minimum wage cashier cry."

    This should be on the door of every store and restaurant.

  4. Cute :) I remind my kids to smile at the cashier and say something nice because they've been there all day, on their feet, and probably are not very comfortable.

  5. My favorite story from my retail days will make every bookseller in America smile because they all have met this person...You know, the one who strolls up to the information desk and says," Hi...I'm looking for a book's about half an inch thick and has a blue cover."

    Yeah, THAT person...Happy Holidays.

  6. You would have to hold me at gun point to get me to go shopping on Black Friday. Some people like the excitement, but nothing thrills me less than getting crammed into a big box store with no place to go.