With my humidor running low on stock I headed to my favorite tobacco store to purchase more cigars. A couple preceded me into the store and by the time I entered they had the clerk’s attention and were inside the walk-in humidor at the back of the store. Now, because I’ve been going to this tobacco shop for a few years I know just where my favorite cigars are kept and it doesn’t long for me to pick my selections and pay for them and I’m usually in and out of the shop in a couple minutes.
It soon became apparent that today would take me longer as the conversation between the clerk and the couple continued in the humidor and the more information the clerk provided prompted more questions from the buyers. Instead of standing at the check-out counter with my cigars I tried to look inconspicuous and busy reviewing other products that I had no intention of purchasing. I didn’t want the couple to feel rushed and, besides, I was actually enjoying eaves-dropping in on the muted conversation taking place behind the closed glass door. At one point I heard the couple ask the clerk if he should take care of me, and sticking his head out he asked if I needed help but I simply said, “No thanks, I’m OK.” The clerk closed the door and resumed his cigar dissertation and the couple listened intently.
After a few minutes they emerged from the humidor but then proceeded down the counter to other selections and their discussion included not just tobacco but various brands of cutters, lighters and fuel. Again I kept myself busy, this time by reading the front page of the Wall Street Journal lying on the glass counter. Finally, the couple gathered their purchases, paid and thanked me for my patience. I said it was no problem and that, in fact, I found the clerk’s tutorial helpful myself. And that brings me to my point.
Speaking for myself - but believing it to be a general truism - most times when shopping we are in somewhat of a hurry. If not actually in a rush we are, at the very least, not interested in spending excessive time purchasing things. Sure, when in the market for big-ticket items like furniture, appliances, cars and computers we spend time comparing brands and kicking tires but for most shopping we want simply to find the product, pay for it and get onto something else. Right?
Well, this leaves little time and tolerance for interaction with sales clerks. Granted, many clerks today display an embarrassing lack of interest and knowledge about the products they sell. But how would we really know that if we don’t give them the opportunity to tell us? Here’s a tip: next time you’re out shopping try slowing down a little by standing aside and listening in on a conversation between a salesperson and another customer or allow the clerk to converse with you. You might be surprised at what you’ll learn.