Let´s Go Shopping: How Perfume Salespeople Make Life Interesting

The following post has been published last November, current events (namely a memorable shopping trip) make me feel it could use another airing. It is still painfully up to date! 😉

Last Saturday I managed to extricate myself for a few hours from the men in my life, to venture out on a sniffing tour. Aside from a few interesting ideas for upcoming reviews, I also witnessed an extraordinary assembly of what must have been the world’s most incompetent salespeople. This seems to be a common species in todays retail environment, sadly they are increasingly prevalent in the world of perfume. I´m sure many of you have already met one or more of the following.

1. The Bored One:

The first specimen is the “I wish I was anywhere else but here, don’t bother me in my supreme state of misery, because I have to work here” type. S/he is super-bored, uninterested, in many cases on the phone to her best friend who knows all about the tedium s/he has to endure (and so do the customers who have to listen as well) and is prone to roll her eyes at the least suggestion of work. Help is not to be expected from her, and it is best not to seek it in the first place, because it would be foolish to hope for any profound knowledge here. Be content if your purchases are in stock right there for you to pick off the shelf yourself (God forbid s/he has to trundle into the back for anything) and then quickly pay and get out, lest you bother her even more with your audacious wish to actually purchase something in a place of commerce (the nerve!).

2. The Eager One:

The second specimen is the clueless but eager one. S/he is friendly, open and approachable, clearly wanting to be of help, even more wanting to make a sale. Sadly, this one is as bare of any information as the Sahara is of trees. If you are lucky s/he can point you to the bathrooms. So nothing to expect here either, just pray she knows how to operate the cash register, or you are in for a prolonged stay until your credit card gets unstuck by the grumpy janitor.

3. The Pseudo-Scientific Babbler:

Third, the pseudo-knowledgable one. This is a dangerous specimen one has to watch out for, since s/he lures you in with a lot of talk that sounds quite important and impresses through sheer volume alone, but you immediately get the inkling that something is off, even when you don´t know a lot about the subject. If you happen to know a lot, say, about perfumes, then to listen to this one is actually hilarious, if one were to see the bright side. If not, it is an effrontery. An example: “Chanel N°5 has only natural ingredients, no synthetics whatsoever. Synthetics are baaaad”. (Wiggle finger for emphasis). Or: “The difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum is only the size of the bottle”. (I kid you not!)

4. The Haughty One:

Fourth is the “haughty, better than the plebeian rest” one. This type is mostly found in highest-end designer boutiques, where they languish in borrowed splendour behind a black counter, either mustering you with beady eyes or not even acknowledging your humble, underfunded, designer outfit-less self. Immediately they make you feel unworthy of living, let alone being in this temple of the elite. Come on, get thee away… there is nothing here for you. Come back after you married a sheik or something!

5. The Opinionated One:

Last, but definitely not least, the over-enthusiastic and opinionated one. This type starts out real pleasant (especially after what you´ve been through with the first four already). S/he is hearty, friendly, seems to be genuinely interested in you and glad to be of help. Very soon though you realize, that your own desire, your motivations, wishes and opinions are irrelevant. S/he knows what is best. She knows you better than you know yourself. The fashion designers fourteenth flanker is just right for you, the celebrity´s “self-made” wonder juice is absolutely perfect, the fruitsalad-smellalike is so you, here let me spray huge quantities on you, whether you want it or not, I know what you need – don´t talk back!!! Be glad if you get away unscathed (if not unscented).

As you can see, I had quite a blast on Saturday.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed, that personal engagement and a passion for the field one works in, are so scarce. I am realistic enough to see that not everybody has the opportunity and luck to work in their dream job (and even a dream job has many long and irksome days!), but a little more can be expected I think. Thankfully there are just as many sales assistants who know what they are doing, who are genuinely friendly and helpful, who are a true resource for customers and and an asset for their employers. A big “Thank you” to those! They are just not so much fun to write about 😉

Picture Sources: tuffmaonkey.ca, casualhardcore.wordpress.com, anajohar.blogspot.com, peace4palestine.housewife4pale.blogspot.com, marieclaire.com some rights reserved, thank you!

About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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16 Responses to Let´s Go Shopping: How Perfume Salespeople Make Life Interesting

  1. angie Cox says:

    I had to post about the very same thing myself today. I just want a few fragrance houses to teach them something about the stuff . They all look bored to death so give them books about your company and /or the history of fragrance.

  2. ScentScelf says:

    Ha! Thanks for the chuckle. Chuckles. And head shakings. Ai yi yi. I am sorry to say that when perfume shopping at a real live brick and mortar store, I frequently find myself wishing for an invisibility cloak. I’m afraid that the end effect is simply seeming mousy…but that’s okay. So long as I can avoid characters #1-5.

    Fortuntately, I know a few #6’s. They’re great. They know how to step in when you look up for help, and be otherwise occupied when you are just there with the perfume and your thoughts. Would that all sales people be that way.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are welcome! 🙂
      An invisibility cloak wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, I often wish I would just be left to my own devices and be helped if I asked for it and that is it, but that is a hard to come by retail experience!

  3. deeHowe says:

    This was great the first time around, and it’s just as relevant (and hilarious) today. Thanks for the refresher! 😉

  4. Victoria says:

    So relevant! In NYC, it is a hit and miss. For instance, some people at Bergdorf Goodman are very passionate and knowledgeable, others are bored. Haughty is something I do not tolerate at all, it is the worst kind.

    • Olfactoria says:

      When shopping in the US I feel often either totally ignored or permanently assailed, but it is all the more satisfying to happen upon one of the rare passionate and knowledgable SA’s.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Let´s Go Shopping: How Perfume Salespeople Make Life Interesting | Olfactoria's Travels -- Topsy.com

  6. Tarleisio says:

    Ah, B, thank you for this one! I had almost forgotten about some of these…and my own favorite…Ms. Service With A Snooty Snarl…There’s one of those at the Chanel boutique in Copenhagen I always love to make wretched! 😉

    The best sales are made by those who love their job – and by extension, you as the customer! Ah, but they’re always so expensive to know…;)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Chanel seems to a very good breeding grounds for super-snooty specimen, Vienna boasts many of those too. 😉
      Absolutely right, I am inclined to buy more if I have a good experience when shopping, but not many SA’s seem to get that.

  7. Ines says:

    Excellent! 🙂
    I come across these types so often that I’m very much surprised when I end up talking to knowledgeable people who can make the experience enjoyable and make me want to repeat it (like I had in Flores recently).
    Someone actually told you Chanel 5 is all natural? 🙂 Love that one!

  8. Oh, dear, I worked through college as a full-time perfume salesperson/manager. I hope I didn’t fit into any of those categories! I don’t think I did. Vendors were very sad to see me go. It’s difficult to find intelligent and passionate folks to fill those retail positions.
    The person I encounter the most out here is the “bored” type. It’s the West coast, everyone is so lazy. Actually, the SAs at the places I shop are passionate and nice. I don’t go back if they aren’t! We chat for hours and meet for tea.
    And I don’t go back if they say “there is no 1 oz of blah blah” or “Don’t rub it together, you’ll bruise the molecules!”

    • Olfactoria says:

      I am sure you didn’t fit into any of my categories! You must have been a terrific perfume SA. Did you do it because of your passion for perfume or did you acquire that passion while working this job? I would love to do that for a while, although it is probably not funny, I’m sure you could do a similar post about strange customers. 😉

  9. Pingback: Super-Special Patchouli And Yesteryear’s Rose – Review: Guerlain Idylle Duet | Olfactoria's Travels

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