Shopping Retail the Right Way

Somewhere amidst my teenage years, the idea of working in a mall seemed like a good idea. Well, hundreds of Advil, misplaced receipts, and parking tickets later, I made the wise decision to leave the wild world of retail behind. Now don’t get me wrong, my experience behind the register was not one hundred percent worthless. I witnessed customers everyday, wasting their time and money in a pursuit to find whatever it was they were looking for-and probably never found.

Because the majority of customers make shopping trips a lot more complicated than need be, I want to share an inside look on how to do retail-right! Though there are a million and one ways to screw it up, I’ve outlined just four basic rules to make your next voyage to the mall much more productive. After all, shopping shouldn’t be a hassle, it should be enjoyed!

Shop one hour of the store’s opening. Simply put: no crowds. Also, employees are everywhere. Shifts during school and daytime hours guarantee you’ll be assisted by a manager-she’ll know the merchandise the best and consequently, be the most helpful. Also a big plus: the store is freshly restocked, organized, and at its cleanest.

Don’t be rude. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll repeat it again to emphasize its importance: a little courtesy always goes a long way. True, sales associates can be pushy, but remember that they’re only doing their job. And, chances are they hate spouting off their current promotions as much as you hate hearing about them. Instead of blowing them off, a simple “no thanks” will do just fine. However, it never hurts to get on their good side. Employees are likely to reward customers who are personable and polite. For my more enjoyable customers, I’ve honored expired coupons and gone to great lengths to hunt down items. On the contrary, I’ve had customers so unbearably cross that I’ve done just about anything to get them off my back and out of my store.

Read the fine print. It’s a situation all too familiar. While browsing through a section of marked-down merchandise, you come across that cashmere sweater you’ve been eying for weeks. But after practically skipping to the register, you’re horrified to find out that your steal really is “too good to be true” when it rings up full price. Assuring the salesperson that this is a mistake, you’re told that only select styles are on sale. Sure enough, when you reexamine the sale sign, it confirms what the salesperson said-in print barely legible sans a magnifying glass. Though your sweater isn’t 50% off, this ridiculous sale sign is 100% legal. To avoid the disappointment, ask a salesperson exactly what items are on sale. If you’re still unsure, have someone price check it for you.

Skip the buy one-get one coupons. Spend $100, get $50 off your next purchase? Not exactly. These promotional coupons all have their catch. For example, most require you to spend an additional amount of money before you can even redeem them. What more, the coupons usually expire before you’re able to make it back to the mall. In the long run, you’re only getting a small percentage off your original purchase so it’s best to resist these often tempting offers.

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