In the War of Retail1, the Generals are the ones at head offices, who don't remember what it's like to get their hands dirty at the front. They're the ones that truly make the lives of the front-line workers miserable.
However, every once in a while, a few guerrilla customers make a racket, lobbing grenades and mortars, and, for a few moments, the retail grunt's attention must be focused on this more immediate danger.
For your reading pleasure, three sad but true customer stories, from only the last week.
I am summoned back by a lady looking at inline skates.
Lady: What size are these? They say 2.5 to 5.5.
All the kids' inline skates we have are adjustable up to 4 sizes
Me: Yep, that's their size - 2.5 to 5.5.
Lady: Well, 2.5 to 5.5 what?
Me: Oh, it's just shoe size.
Lady: Well that doesn't help me, I don't know her shoe size.
You'll note the odd nature of seeking out something to wear on one's feet without giving thought to finding out what size one's feet might be.
We sell Reebok EasyTone shoes.2 We are sold out of Reebok EasyTone shoes - we've sold over 100 in fewer than two months. We're also the only place in Orangeville that sells them, and people are losing their minds that our supply of these shoes is not immediately being replenished.
EasyTone Lady: Have you gotten a new shipment of EasyTones in?
Me: Not yet, we've only gotten two pairs in during the last three weeks.
EasyTone Lady: Gah! What's the point in having shoes if you're never going to have anyone's size?
She already owns a pair. She bought them, even though they are the wrong size. They've never been worn, never even had the tags taken off, for that matter. She's been trying to exchange them since she bought them, we just haven't gotten any in.
Me: Do you want me to check if any other stores have them?
EasyTone Lady: Does anyone else have them in town?
Me: Nope, but I can check any other Sport Mart.
EasyTone Lady: Oh, I'm not going out of town for them.
As she was running out of time on our 30-day return policy, she returned them for a credit (even though I offered her a full refund).
Guy Looking At Shoes: I see a K-Swiss shoe up there (our shoe boxes are stored in overhead shelving) that isn't on the wall.
Me: Sure, I can grab them down for you. What size do you need?
Guy Looking At Shoes: Oh, I don't know if I want them or not, I just want to look at them.
Me: Yeah, but I can grab you a size if you decide you like them.
Guy Looking At Shoes: But I don't know if I like them, I haven't seen them.
Me: Well, we've got a lot, so I can grab you whatever your size is.
Guy Looking At Shoes: Well...I guess I'm a 12.
I run up and grab him a pair of 12s
Guy Looking At Shoes: Oh, those are on the wall.
He left the shoes on a clothing rack and proceeded to shop around for 20 more minutes and ultimately bought a junior hockey stick.
And that only involves things that go on people's feet. Yeesh.
1 - Which started sometime in the Stone Age when the general store ran out of fire, and a customer had to go all the way across town to get it somewhere else
2 - Also known as Reebok EasySell shoes