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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Deal Diva pet peeves and advice for more pleasant shopping

When you're shopping, how close is too close? This close is too close.

Single White Female screen grab, Times files.

When you're shopping, how close is too close? This close is too close.



Last week I had the honor of delivering the keynote speech at the Best in Biz Awards from LocalShops1, an organization that supports local shopping and small businesses in Tampa Bay, run by former Tampa Bay Times employee Ester Venouziou. Ester asked if I would deliver some pithy commentary from the point of view of an avid shopper and Deal Diva, giving tips to the store owners about what we like or don't like in our shopping experiences.

I was like, sure! Then I was like, oh. Oh, wait. Are the shop owners are going to hate me for essentially spotlighting all the things I wish were different? Are they going to get mad when I compare overzealous customer service to something out of Single White Female (above)? Am I going to get a face full of chicken marsala from the angry crowd? After all, we love our local shop owners and know their struggle is real, too.

I swallowed the worries and persevered, asking the other Divas to share their shopping pet peeves, too. Together, we came up with the list below, which I delivered at the awards ceremony at the St. Petersburg Museum of History. The crowd, by the way, was lovely as could be and seemed to take it all in stride. In fact, Shannon's Web tagged me in an Instagram the next day, taking tip five to heart.

Since everyone is so mellow, we'd love to hear your own advice for local shop owners in the comments. Here we go with ours:

1. We really appreciate your help. We want to know the specials. We love a wise opinion. Sometimes we want to chat! But when we can feel a store employee’s balmy breath on the back of our necks, customer service has gone too far. We like you. Just not in that way.

2. However, there are times when we need your expertise! Do you see us trying on a halter top with a pair of plaid high-waisted shorts and some patent leather thigh-high boots? Do you see us slowly nodding into the mirror? Can you practically hear us saying “This is really going to get me a date with a guy who has a job!” This is the time to step in, ever-so-friendly, and say, “Have you seen our new line of items that aren’t going to land you on People of Walmart? Come this way, sweetie. Let mama help.”

3. We love rewards programs! But if we say we’re not interested, we’re totally not interested. It’s like dating. We can give you all kinds of excuses, but sometimes we’re just not that into your Buy 12 Artisanal Cheese Wedges and Get the 13th Free Membership Card. It’s not you. It’s us.

4. Please don’t shoot us side-eye when we head straight for the sale rack and surpass all the brand new items. The struggle is real. You know it. We all know it. Let’s not pretend any of us has any money.

5. Have a to-die-for item but no one's coming in to look at it? You should tell me about it in a safe place -- like Instagram on my phone! If I agree it is a cute outfit you will be seeing me soon. Same goes for 20% off sales for Instagram friends only. When we like you on social media, we expect perks. Also, pictures of your adorable store poodle, Mr. Poodleson, are highly encouraged.

6. Finding freebies in the bottom of our bag is like finding a $5 bill in the pockets of our jeans. Heck yes, I want a free perfume sample. Scrabble tile ring? Marry me! Magnet featuring a clip art pizza chef from 1994? Don’t care! It’s free!

7. Complimentary, or even cheap gift wrapping wins us over every time. Why is this? One, because we are lazy. Two, because last time we tried to wrap the shaving kit we got our dad for Christmas, it ended up like an outtake from Friday the 13th Twelve, the one starring the guy with the stapler from Office Space. Three, because we are probably on the way to family dinner right now.

8. About that family dinner that started 20 minutes ago. If we get to your business two minutes before closing, please know we’re really sorry. We don’t mean to be such jerks. We know you want to go home and watch Chopped on your DVR just like everyone else. But if we’re pressed up against the glass like a sad kitty with no one to love it, please let us in. We’ll be fast. We will tell all our friends how cool you are and come back to your store for the rest of our days. But next time, we'll be earlier.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 3:34pm]


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