Oprah is lucky to have got an apology, or maybe you could say she earned it with her celebrity status. She is not the only one to have been judged on non-essentials by sales staff – many of us have been. Over the years, I have developed an armory of sorts that I always carry with me when I go posh shopping.
(Yes, they’d be right – there is no way I’d be able to shop as Oprah did, but heck, I just might, that one day. It is not their place to prejudge me or the depth of my wallet. Or taste)
Dress right: Always wear at least two items of clothing or accessories that are visible and are of the same or similar price bracket to those available in that store. Make sure you get the season right, it cannot be more than one season out of date, or it doesn’t work. (For the thrifty amongst us, hoard. My mum’s dark glasses are vintage now)
The eyes: The cold, glazed superior look, that slips from product to product as if it as all been seen before.. of course you were in Milan (or wherever) when it was unveiled. You know these items. And its just about your fancy on that day. Never look keen. When you decide to look at something closely, friendly, but distracted is not a bad mode – it has worked for me so far. (The stuff you see in stores is not on waiting lists anyway, so – well, not so exclusive, is it?)
The spine: Always let your posture show how comfortably in control you are.. almost as if you had ridden on horseback to the store. I would not have noticed it if years ago someone had not asked me that question. No, not about riding to the store, but whether I rode. I don’t. I just have a confident spine and hold my shoulders straight, when I am seriously shopping. Even more so when window shopping.
Show me the Willing: All very well to look rich and appropriate. I cannot imagine that Oprah was anything but above. One of the first things I do is to – and this one is proprietary information – acquire a shield. It is the ‘carrier bag’. Go to the most expensive (or thereabouts) outlet and purchase something small. Make sure you carry the bag with you. That shows shop assistants that you are ready and willing to spend money and feed their commissions. Nobody can resist a chance at a commission. If not willing to invest in the shield, bring a bag from a previous shopping trip, or borrow one from an aunt.
Never carry big bags: Not even the shield. After all what kind of shopper does not know about the home delivery service, the porter or have a chauffeur to hand to take stuff off their hands. Fine, just one big bag is fine. More – well, you must be at a designer discount outlet. Else, big bags just mean you are used to lugging your own stuff – and who wants that kind of a customer! Also, it could show you have already spent all your money and are not worth bothering with..
Demonstrate knowledge: It is irresistible! Putting uppity shop sales persons in their place by telling them things about their own product that they did not know.. cheap thrills, but oh, so good. It is even better when the shop assistants know what you are talking about, because then you have a bond. And the brand is your common friend. You may even get an extra discount, a story, a smile or a rare color from the stockroom.
Stand away from the merchandise: Yes, profiling is a thing. Suspicion often falls on people who are not like ‘us’. Any ‘us’. Make sure you stand away from the merchandise and look at it in a sort of bored but critical manner. Standing away shows that you cannot shoplift. You were not going to anyway, but – ugh- hovering salespeople are awful, as if they have been trained in profiled suspicion. Don’t give them a chance to judge you. Judge them and their products first. Mildly amused and superior is the tone I work towards. Let them defend and sell – that is what they are there to do – sell.
I’m not perfect, but after the first few times of scurrying in and out of shops, I worked out this protocol, and its been a few glorious years of doing the store rounds.
And don’t forget to have fun shopping!
(Dear Oprah, not trivialising the incident. And I am glad you brought it up. And I hope it helps everybody. Nobody should be insulted for any reason at all)