Tis the Season to Abandon Reason

Just after I graduated from University I had a hard time finding a job, in order to pay my bills (mostly student loans) I started working in retail. For the most part, working at the mall was not too bad. I loved meeting people, talking with them and helping them solve their problems. Christmas is, of course, the busiest time of the year and I worked in the children section of a relatively large store in the mall. There were all kinds of people looking for a variety of things and I did my best to help them out. For the most part, people were grateful and courteous, BUT there were always those few who were already bent out of shape. Usually, by being calm and knowledgeable you can hammer out their shopping needs and get them on their way, but some are determined you are personally out to get them.

It was around this time I made the list of Christmas Time Retail Shopping Faux Pas, the things as a customer you should remember while shopping.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #12
–Final sale means you cannot return or exchange at all. This would be why it’s called a FINAL sale.
I can understand the need for a deal as much as anyone, especially with Christmas just around the corner, but I am a firm believer that you are taking your chances when you purchase something that is final sale. Especially if there is a huge red stamp on the bottom of the receipt that says final sale, and the table you got it from has final sale on it, and the tag says…. Final sale
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #11
— If you speak in one word sentences, you cannot be mad when people do not understand you.
This happened to me multiple times. Someone would walk up arch an eyebrow and say “sizes?” or “sale?” or “shoes?” I am sure there are stores out there organized in a way where this technique would work, but not many. The sale one was easier since there is generally a sale section, but the others, I just needed more information. Chances are, the sales associate could help you find what you are looking for if you said “size four?” or “girls shoes?” That is just one more word, not too bad.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #10
— Do not interrupt a sales associate when they are helping another customer. Your problem is not more important…
Stores get pretty hectic the closer it is to Christmas, but manners still apply. I cannot count the number of times I have been helping someone and another person strides up and completely interrupts by demanding I find them something… and NOW. Yes a sales associate can deal with two people at once, but there is no reason to make other customers uncomfortable. 

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #9
–The week before Christmas, lines for the checkout are to be expected…
Lines, lines, lines everyone complains about them and hates standing in them. We are all human and doing the best we can. If you don’t want to stand in the line, Christmas shop in July, not December 24th.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #8
–It is generally considered bad form to ask a sales associate a question and then immediately ask a different person the same question.
When I worked retail I was there 6 days a week and I knew my stuff. I knew what sizes we had in the back and how they fit. Many MANY times, someone asked me a question and, after I answered, turned around and immediately asked someone else. *Sigh* at least do it behind my back so I can’t hear you.
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #7
— Traffic laws still apply in mall parking lots in the month of December.
This one is self explanatory… parking lots are zoos this time of year

Photo by: Sara Pickersgill

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #6
— Believe it or not, the sales person you are criticizing actually hopes you don’t come back.
I always found it funny when customers shouted and threatened to NEVER return to the store. I get paid minimum wage and that is not enough to deal with your drama, I hoped they didn’t come back. I could understand this with a cell phone company or another entity, but with a clothing store… 
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #5
— Expressing displeasure about the return and exchange policy is best done to someone who could do something about it…
This was somewhat special to the store I worked in. They had a horrible exchange policy and I agreed with most customers. However, reaming me out about it is not going to change anything. I usually agreed with them and directed them to the comments section of the website. I think a lot of people thought this was a trick because they all gave me funny looks…
Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #4
— Ignoring the sales person you just called to assist you, by conversing in another language with your shopping partner, is not helping them to help you.
This was a personal pet peeve of mine. A customer would call me over then converse with their partner in another language without asking me anything. If it were English, I could listen to what they were saying and come up with gift ideas or get them sizes. Since I don’t understand the language they were speaking I had to stand there with a polite expression on my face until they decided to let me in on the conversation. 

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #3
— When you walk up to the cash register this means you are DONE SHOPPING. This would not be the opportune time to ask for sizes or decide to buy something other than what you brought to the counter… (see tip #9)
While working on the checkout line, a lot of people would wander away while I was scanning their items. Which meant when I was done, I would need to get their attention and call them back over to pay for their items making the wait for others even longer. 

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #2
— The big size, at the bottom of my neatly folded pile, looks the same as the small size… except bigger.
This kind of goes without saying, but society in general would be shocked at the amount of people who just rip the biggest size from the bottom of the pile. Of course, this completely unfolds the rest of the pile. I also realize sales associates are paid to re-fold the clothes, but just because a janitor is paid to clean, doesn’t mean I make a mess on purpose so they have to earn their pay.

Christmas Shopping Etiquette Tip #1
— Being unpleasant to store employees does not make them want to serve you better
This one kind of works both ways. I have had an encounter or two where the sales associate I dealt with was abrupt and unpleasant. This puts a damper on my mood and causes me to be less cheerful with them. I usually make an effort to be a happy customer. If a store doesn’t have my size, or their return policy doesn’t suit me, it isn’t the employee’s fault; they just work there. They’re human, with families and problems of their own; just like everyone else. It is really easy to forget these facts when you’re in the moment. Enthusiasm is infectious and tis the season to spread joy and happiness.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

As everyone is Christmas shopping this holiday season, remember that we are all human beings and imperfect in our own ways. If you like challenges, find a sales associate who is miserable and gives you poor service, and try to make them laugh. It will be more fulfilling than complaining to their manager or breaking them down further. Your generosity will also be paid forward to the next customer they deal with.
I wish everyone happy holidays and I will post again after Christmas festivities!!

One of a Kind

I don’t have any photos for this post, because it is about a craft show I went to. I am going to share funny photos instead to make up for my lack of forethought.

I thought this was way too funny because I have a cat who looks just like this.

Wednesday evening I made it over to the One of a Kind show in Toronto, barely. I was taking a few hours vacation from work so I could meet my friend there. I left work at 2:30 hoping to catch the 2:47 train. I was getting there with JUST enough time to buy my ticket and get on the platform. As the attendant is processing my transaction, he said “Oh, the 2:47 train is cancelled.” Facepalm. Now I have to wait for the 3:30 train. I headed over to Starbucks and grabbed something warm to drink and went back to wait on the platform. Luckily I brought a book to read on the train and was able to read while I waited.
Finally getting there at 4:30 I met Alanna and we headed over. Inside the building we came across the automated ticket booths first, there was no line at all, so we purchased our tickets there. Alanna’s machine didn’t print her ticket or receipt and we asked the nearby door staff where we should go. They sent us to the main desk, the main desk sent us back, the door staff wrote us a note to try to get her in and the entrance staff sent us back to the main desk. Finally we said, “Alright, stop. She paid for her ticket, how is she supposed to get in? You need to do something.” Finally another lady came around from the back of the main desk and managed to look up Alanna’s transaction to print her ticket and receipt. Too bad they couldn’t have done that the first time, right?
After getting in, we looked for a coat-check; after seeing a sign saying it was outside we opted to hang onto them. We had a hard enough time getting in and didn’t want to tempt fate.
As the name suggests there were many things there that were one of a kind. I picked up quite a few Christmas presents; I’ll have to post photos after I give them out. Spoilers.
There was a lot of very creative stuff there and it is definitely worth going. If only to support the poor starving artists, as one vendor so eloquently put it. Most things are a bit on the expensive side, but that is par for the course of anything handmade. If you’re looking for a deal, stay at the mall. One of the vendors was telling me she had a particularly difficult customer who was badgering her to continue lowering the price. After dealing with this person, she went into the vendors lounge for a break and to gather some mental peace. Some of the other exhibitors were asking her what was wrong and after she explained the situation one of the jewelers shared her own story. A lady customer was looking at her jewelry and asked, “Is there anything here under $50?” Indicating a tray of earrings the vendor said, “Everything in this tray is $49.99.” The customer then inquired if it was $49.99 for the whole tray or each. The earrings were in fact individually priced seeing as they were all handmade with good quality materials. The lady customer then said, “I feel I should tell you, Sears has really similar earrings on sale for $20.” To which the vendor responded, “Oh wow, you should really go there. Right now! No Seriously, go now.”
Anyone who knits, crochets, or crafts knows how upsetting this can be. I personally hate pricing things I make because I always want to charge so little for my time. I am a terrible judge, so I usually ask Johanne for her opinion and go with that… Okay sometimes I lower it a bit.
If you think about it though, the materials alone cost quite a bit (unless I am knitting something for someone out of acrylic yarn, which I don’t do unless they request it). I remember trying to price a scarf I was making a friend of a friend. The materials were $30 (really not that expensive) and it probably took me 12-15 hours to make. Even if I charged $1 per hour for labour It would still end up being close to $45 and not a lot of mundanes understand why handmade garments are so expensive. I’ve had close friends request I make them something and when I told them the price of the yarn (I wasn’t even going to charge labour) they said, “Oh, well I could buy something for that price!” Yes, yes you could, BUT it would not be handmade.
I can put this into man-terms much easier. It is the difference between buying a $200 off the rack suit that has been mass-produced and buying a $5000 suit that has been hand sewn by an Italian man and tailored to fit you perfectly.

The other time I saw this it said cardigan instead of scarf. I personally think that works much better.

Just in case you are wondering I have indeed started using the term mundanes for people who do not knit or crochet. It was mostly by accident. I was trying to explain something to a yarn-y friend about anyone who doesn’t knit does not understand this concept, but that seemed like an unnecessary amount of words. Suddenly the word mundane popped into my head and out of my mouth. The person I was relating this story to, thought it was extraordinarily funny so it is becoming a colloquialism I plan to use frequently.
Anyway! Christmas is fast approaching, who is doing Christmas crafting? I know some of you are knitting like mad to finish up projects in time for the holidays and I would love to hear about it. Please share!