Remember the famous scene in Pretty Woman where the street walking protagonist is foiled by two snooty Beverly Hills sales associates?
Julia Roberts’s famous movie character Vivian, left the store in tears: feeling worthless, and defeated.
Like all fairytale endings, this shopping heroine was able to transform her look from hooker chic to sophisticated lady and make those rude and snooty sales associates reminisce about their hasty first encounter with Richard Gere’s onscreen flame…
and their missed opportunity at a juicy commission check.
If we could all be so lucky.
Most first-time designer boutique and department store virgins don’t know the secret code words, body language clues and proper attire needed to get beyond the velvet rope of high-class shopping. According to New York Magazine’s blog
According to New York Magazine’s blog The Cut, high-end salespeople are now kissing up to middle-income shoppers; so a sales associate primer for first-time shoppers in fear of mean sales associates is needed.
As a former employee of Neiman Marcus–who has her favorite sales associates on speed dial–I can teach you several ways to shop like a Birkin-toting, Cartier tank-watch wearing, Ferragamo-loafer shod retail socialite.
Here are the unwritten rules of the retail shopping commission game.
Sales associates are hired to sell merchandise, give shoppers superior customer service and reveal insider product knowledge about the history, craftsmanship, and quality of the store and their products.
The sales associate are surrounded day in and day out by expensive merchandise, and through retail osmosis, they adopt a superior attitude indicative of the rich heritage and history of the merchandise they are selling and wearing.
Store patrons that appear to the sales clerks to be window shoppers, frequent time-wasters and men, and women who prefer to return merchandise after one wearing will be treated like lepers by the sales associates and avoided like the bubonic plague.
You can, however, overcome these barriers to high-end shopping nirvana and get treated with respect, by following these steps:
Silence the Snooty Sales Associate Tip # 1 – Be knowledgeable. Know what you want before you enter the store.
Several days before entering a designer store, peruse the retailer's website for the particular item that you will purchase.
The moment you hit the front entrance of the store, tell the sales associate that you need the Christian Louboutin, Mirrored Platform Pump in size 38.
Before the SA has a chance to open his or her mouth to snub you…
you show that you speak French shoe fluently, are shopping for a Spring shoe 2009 in the fall and know your European shoe size too.
Silence the Snooty Sales Associate Tip # 2 Call ahead and make an appointment with the personal shopper or brand specialist.
If you need a private dressing room or would like a personal consultation with a seasoned sales professional, call ahead for an appointment.
Most major department stores have personal shoppers on staff that can assist you…free of charge.
Also if you need assistance with a particular designer, the store or boutique has highly trained and knowledgeable Chanel, St. John, Judith Leiber or Louis Vuitton specialists to help shoppers select the right purchase.
A word of warning: Do not abuse this shopping feature. If you have followed, step one perfectly and are confident that you want to make a purchase, make an appointment with the personal shopper or the handbag, shoe or accessory specialist.
Failure to respect a sales associate’s time can give you bad shopping karma.
Silence the Snooty Sales Associate Tip # 3 – Dress and look like a millionaire, even if you are broke.
A person with money, status, and wealth may wear jeans with holes in it or a tattered shirt, but their timepiece, jewelry, shoes, and accessories will always be the finest quality that money can buy.
High-end sales associates and wealthy people look for subtle clues to determine a person’s net worth. Your accessories reveal your style, personal taste, and affinity for luxury goods.
Skip the expensive suits and fancy hairdos. Invest in a pair of Italian loafers or high-heeled shoes, expensive-looking cubic zirconium diamond studs, a designer handbag and a stainless steel watch.
If you have a limited budget buy these items at a vintage resale boutique or a consignment store. Use these tell-tale “I am rich” items to give the air of luxury and wealth, even if you are faking it.
Don’t forget to wear expensive perfume and invest in a manicure and pedicure. Wealthy people are obsessed with good grooming and spa treatments, as well.
Are you still receiving snooty and rude treatment from a sales associate?
Ask if you can speak to the manager.
Get the mailing address to the corporate office. Speak to the manager in calm tones and explain your dissatisfaction with this shopping experience.
Tell the manager that you will write a letter to the corporate headquarters detailing this horrible experience, and vow to never shop at this retail establishment again.