Please Don’t Touch

Taped to the front door of the craft store was a piece of yellow paper telling me to  turn off my cell phone, and  if I am a solicitor to please go away because she won’t want to talk to me during business hours.

The  owner stood silently behind me looking over my shoulder as I looked at wooden bowls.  She took a wooden bowl  from my hand as I was about to put it back on the shelf and said, “I should really put the price on top so you don’t pick up every bowl and look  at the bottom.”  I thought she was being nice and trying to make it easier for me to find what I wanted.

I found another display of bowls,  picked up each one and studied it carefully.  I wanted a bowl that had character; A wooden bowl that looked like it was originally part of a tree.  “Should I get the one with the knot on the side that is a light wood, or the darker one that has streaks through it. Or maybe the one with the small visible worm hole.” I don’t like to purchase an item the same day I look at it. I like to take my time making a purchase. I  think about if for a day, maybe for several days. Then I drive  back to the store, anxious that someone else may have bought what I want, before I get there.

I walked over to another display and saw a large wooden bowl on  the back of a  shelf. There was a stuffed bunny leaning against the bowl and  several stuffed apples inside it.  I moved the bunny and the apples to look at the bowl. I picked it up and looked at the bottom of the bowl. Then I placed it back on the shelf and put the stuffed apples back in the bowl. I was about to put the stuffed bunny back where it was leaning, when she appeared beside me and grabbed the bunny out of my hand. She said,”I don’t mind if you pick up the things, I just want you to put things back where they belong.”

I felt chastised, and wanted to say, “Yes, mother. I am sorry I was naughty and touched your bunny. Will you please forgive me and let me go out with my friends tonight?”  But I just said, ” Oh, sorry” and started to head for the door.

I thought maybe she didn’t know how her comment made me feel, so out of kindness, and wanting to help her with her business, I walked back to where she was standing and said, ” I wanted to let you know your comment made me feel uncomfortable and that I don’t want to come back.”

I thought she would say, ” Oh, I am so sorry. I have so many items, I just like to keep it neat. Or maybe she would say, ” Oh honey, I didn’t want you to feel bad. I shouldn’t be so anal, and make my customers feel like children. Or ” I have such a problem with control. I really do need to lighten up and let customers actually touch the items I am trying to sell.”

What she did say.

“Fine. Don’t.”

In front of her store is a sign that says, “Celebrating Three Years In Business.”  I wonder how she managed to last that long. Maybe the customers remembered to put the bunny back where it belonged and never had their hand slapped.

I won’t be back.


10 responses to “Please Don’t Touch

  1. Wow! I’m glad you went back to talk to her and tell her you wouldn’t be back and why. Maybe she needs a class on customer service. Wonder what her story is. Hmmm.

  2. Cyndy McKenzie

    Wow! Was she having a bad day or what? I am also a browser. I like to look and think and then think some more. I touch a lot. I’d never survive in that store!

  3. So much for customer service! I bet there’s a store near you with wonderful things and sales people with matching good attitudes!

  4. I love the way you told this story, nice and slow, mirroring the way in which you enjoy your shopping. I really had the feeling of strolling through the store with you, taking in all of the items, touching them . . .. It’s too bad that this store owner has forgotten what retail is all about.

  5. Unbelievalble. As my mom says, “Customer service is not what it used to be.” As someone selling arts and crafts, she should understand the nature of your sensory experience. As I read your words, I can see you examining the bowls and appreciating the craftsmanship. Maybe you should email her your blog for today. I can’t imagine how she is as clueless as she is.

  6. What a sad story! Kudos for you for going back to her and telling her why you wouldn’t be back. We humans forget that our words can be powerful and hurtful.

  7. As I read, I developed a slow steam, that turned to a full blown boil by the end. What a rude person and not very conscious of customer service. I loved the inner thoughts that you considered, but no, that didn’t happen. Grrrr!

  8. Lord. I have had this experience, and this was so well-written I felt like I was getting slapped on the hand right along with you. The funny thing is, there’s lots of research that shows that the longer you hold merchandise, the more likely you are to buy it! 🙂

    • Wow. That’s both amazing and not surprising, you know? How does she manage to make any sales at all? Is her whole business made up of impulse shoppers for whom money is no object? Crazy. I’m glad you told her how her comment had affected you.

  9. Quite a story. My first thought was an analogy: how many classrooms and teachers work this way?

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