How To Sell Oranges – An Education

By The Husband

Let me take you on a journey through the inner workings of a fictitious high-end store selling leather goods as well as silk products.

As not to risk a libel suit (the store would be able to hire some top lawyers just using the money spent on scarves by me, whereas I could only supply an army of lawyers with silk scarves instead of paying them) we will call this store “Mercurius”.


My dear wife and I have made it a point to visit every Mercurius store in any city we visited together as a kind of sport.

In 2014, those cities were Paris (5 locations plus 2 airport stores) and New York City (3 locations plus one airport store).

At first I wasn’t too into it and didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, but after a few visits a distinct pattern began to emerge.

You may think it is pure coincidence who will walk up to you and try to lure you into spending a ridiculous amount of money for yet another piece of cloth – well made and nice to look at, I admit, but in all honesty, how many necks do you have to keep warm – but I assure you it is not.

There are 4 types of sales assistants in the Mercurius stores:

a) The older well dressed female SA.

b) The young female SA, who is just as well dressed, but would probably look just as stunning in a costume from Les Misèrables.

c) The gay male well dressed SA.

d) The straight male well dressed SA.

When you walk into the store, the decision on who will talk to you must be made in an instant judging the following criteria:

a) Your gender.

b) Your age.

c) Your sexual orientation and last but not least:

d) Your willingness to buy, judged by Mercurius items you are already wearing.

As this vetting process may be hard to understand at first I have created a flow chart to familiarize you with the way Mercurius works.

Here is the flow chart. An explanation of the final decision process is provided in footnotes.

*1 customer will buy no matter what and wants to spend time with a peer

*2 customer needs a mother-figure to tell her what looks good and what to buy

*3 customer will buy no matter what and wants to spend time with a peer

*4 customer needs a non-competition friend to tell her what looks good and what to buy

*5 not that there’s anything wrong with it

*6 it would be a miracle if nothing was sold

*7 it would be a miracle if nothing was sold

*8 the sale is made to him, he’s used to buying

*9 the sale is made to her – hence see *2

*10 the sale is made to him, but the SA is no competition for the female

*11 the sale is made to her, but the SA is no competition to anybody

*12 there’s no competition, just good taste

*13 there’s no competition, just good taste

*14 selling fancy usb-sticks

Now that you have studied the flowchart you have the opportunity to shop with the SA you like or avoid any type of SA you do not like. (Disclaimer: some necessary measures may be drastic and may include change of age, gender and sexual orientation).

In case I am wrong and it is all just coincidence, and you, good people of Mercurius, read this, just give it a try. And if it works, you can always send a few tokens of your appreciation (preferably bacon and donuts silk and leather (Ed. Note) ).


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Hermès, Shopping, Travels and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to How To Sell Oranges – An Education

  1. LeSputnik says:

    how long did hubby spend doing all this sale orientation flow chart?

    • the husband says:

      The flow chart actually didn’t take long at all, LeSputnik. I scribbled it onto a sheet of stationary from the Algonquin in about 5 minutes. I guess the history of the hotel with the New Yorker inspired me.

  2. Marjo says:

    So funny (and so true😂).

  3. cookie queen says:

    I’m speechless. 😉

  4. profumina says:

    And so true – even with my little experience of shopping in Mercurius stores, I can only confirm this. May be I should pick it up as a new hobby just like you guys do and train my husband accordingly. With such a learning tool I am sure he will be happy to come along. The bacon and donut may help even more though….

  5. Georgy says:

    Haha, hubby is the best, should I be worried always approached by older elegant female SA?

  6. Sandra says:

    Awesome! Will show the Norwegian tonight.

  7. Anka says:

    Funny! Does enter the store, wearing a Mercuriussence fragrance count as an item? Are they trained to smell on you?
    The Husbanc, you picked a nice research project!

  8. Tara says:

    Priceless! Just like B’s scarf collection 🙂

    This research must be taken seriously considering it’s the result of extensive personal observation in a number of stores on two continents. Vanessa would be proud.

    Based on my own experience I can add that a female under 45 not wearing merc and only interested in the perfumes will not be approached by any SA whatsoever.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Given the flowchart, I think Udina will be proud too! 🙂

        • Vanessa says:

          I am indeed hugely impressed by the store tally / sample size, analytical rigour and colour-appropriate presentation. My MO as a woman over 55 not wearing merch and purely out shamelessly to score samples is always but always to seek out the young female SA, on the premise that she is a) eager to please and b) too young to have heard my ‘friend with an upcoming wedding’ ruse a dozen times.

    • the husband says:

      The scarf collection is priceless, indeed. For everything else, there’s Mastercard. Fragrance will only be offered after a purchase of at least one piece of silk or leather.

  9. Sabine says:

    Hahahaha! Loved that.
    I can also confirm Tara’s observation. Female, over 45 and not wearing merc marks you out as a tourist and if you need assistance you’ll have to be very very patient.

  10. Vanie says:

    And if you’re under 30 and wearing a backpack and only interested in testing the perfume, the first available SA we’ll kindly offer to help you find your way back to the street in no time! Just kidding… Or am I? 😉

  11. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Hm, couldn’t find myself in the flow chart : a male (“the French”) dragging a female (let’s ignore the age please …), who’s desperate to avoid entering the Mercurius shop. No matter which type of SA will try whatever strategy, supported by the French, female will leave without purchase (well, there was one exception ever : Chasse en Inde).
    BTW, are you sure the above flow chart is known at the Vienna Mercurius shop too ? (or they just rather ignore it…)

    • the husband says:

      I should add a new category: Forced to enter not willing to buy. In the end, I believe, you could at least walk out with a USB stick. That would also give the lonely straight male SA something to do.

  12. Safran says:

    Absolutely brilliant observations, thank you! Need to show this to my lists- and flow-chart loving husband. Funny enough, I just came back from the Baden-Baden Mercurius Boutique a few minutes ago…..

  13. shellyw says:

    I read this at my morning tea haunt and had to make a huge effort not to laugh aloud as it would end up with tea all over the many sitting near by. Way to go! A fabulous graphic, a sense of humor and the willingness to buy scarves – Brigit you have one in a million. Now I will try to hold off laughing until I make it out the door. (Please come to SF), I Would love to see how the SF (Mercurius) store changes the graphic. I would send bacon in appreciation, but I think customs may be an issue

  14. Brilliant! I can’t stop laughing.
    I absolutely agree with Tara’s observation too.

  15. Suzanne says:

    Hilarious! Great job, Dr. O! I also laughed at the pseudonym you chose for the store. 😀

    • the husband says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. Just for the record: Any similarities regarding name, SA behaviour, and/or colour scheme with existing stores are purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  16. Vanessa says:

    Oh joy, I love a good infographic! *8 and *14 were especially fun. It is your wife who is the psychotherapist, right? Well, if you tire of jaws, there’s clearly another calling from you…with your mercurial mind…;)

  17. Undina says:

    To say that I loved this post is not to say anything! It’s beyond being hilarious. Bravo! (and Bis!!!)

    There’s a small observation: since footnotes aren’t read sequentially but rather up and down from the chart to the explanation, there is no need in duplication of the same footnote under different numbers. Still, extremely clever and funny.

  18. Ines says:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain this with visuals! 🙂 I chuckled my way through explanations.

  19. Tomate Farcie says:

    To borrow from a book title by American sportscaster, Al Michaels…you can’t make this stuff up

  20. Leona Tesar says:

    Reblogged this on THE NEW BLACK and commented:
    Loved this!! So true!

  21. G says:

    too funny! However, as a woman in her mid-twenties whose only luxuries are perfumes, I have rarely been approached by any SA in the many Hermes stores I’ve visited.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s