Something weird is happening at the mall and I don’t mean the fact that the Oak Park is down to one pretzel place. (Wetzel’s I miss you.)
No scratch that. Something funky is happening in all of retail. I’m still perplexed by my last shopping outing. It was bad, but new bad, like wow is this the future of shopping.
When I regaled my husband with my tale of despair he uttered his usual statement: “This is why Amazon is taking over the world.” (Note: It’s his refrain for almost everything I tell him.) But this time I think he’s right.
Amazon ,with its no-human-contact shopping experience, is starting to look better and better based on my recent journey to retail peculiarity.
It began at Town Center and finished with a flurry of despair at a grocery store. Here’s the crux of my experience. Almost every single store had a staff that was super freaking chatty.
Surprised you there didn’t I? Admit it, you thought I was going to complain about a lack of sales help. Well, that problem is so last year because the new consumer nemesis is the retail over share. .
I don’t know if there’s some new training going on where salespeople are being told to chit-chat their brains out or some very flawed research showed that shoppers want to know the daily minute of the person checking them out at the mall because hey, why not have it take 10 minutes to ring up a hoodie?
It’s not that I’m anti-conversation. I love a good stranger over share. But when you’re standing in a line that’s almost out the door the last thing any customer wants is for each transaction to be an in-depth treatise on the thoughts and feelings of the cashier. The goal is to get in and out in the most expedient way possible.
It was at the Gap where I thought I was going to become unhinged. The young man checking people out would have lengthy comments on what you purchased — and then like he was doing a contrast and compare paper for his creative writing class he would link your items back to his life.
Worse, the co-cashier was doing the same thing. So don’t tell me this wasn’t some kind of employee education initiative meant to combat online sales by elevating the “personal touch” in retail or some such nonsense.
To up the eye-roll factor, the sales associate became so animated in his one-sided conversation that it took him four tries to ring me up properly. If I didn’t have a pretty significant coupon that was expiring that very day I would have bailed.
Then I went to my safe space — the grocery store — and it didn’t get any better.
When I was in line waiting for my turn I noticed the cashier was talking more than scanning. When I was finally at the front, I decided the best course of action was to not make eye contact, but that didn’t work. I got to hear about the cashier’s “really dry skin.”
“Um OK, sorry about that,” I muttered and then wondered if she was saying that so I would bag my groceries or something due to her epidermis issues. It was awkward, like pay with exact change awkward so I could skedaddle out of there.
I sat in my car feeling badly. Is it me? Am I entering a pre-recluse phase? God I hope not. Maybe I just need to wait it out or maybe I need to initiate the over share first.
Yes that’s it! I’ll start off the transaction by saying something so confusing it just shuts down any chit-chat. It will be just like trying to have a conversation with the cable service department. Oh yeah, I’ve so got this.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at email@example.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.