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How to tell if you’re a born retailer


Retail is a profession, but true retailers are born not made, says Dave Farrell.

Telltale signs you are a retailer – or should be.

Your partner bans you from relaying the grocery cupboard, yet you are too exhausted to do housework.

All the product labels in the fridge are front facing and the wine rack is presented not only by type but dates.

Going shopping is unbearable. Why on earth the hour upon hour of browsing? It takes but a few seconds to find out what is on offer in each store. The highlight of a day out at the mall is observing the behaviour, what stock is left behind and why.

You embarrass your mate by doing the finger dust test on fixtures and writing ‘clean me’ on grubby mirrors. By pointing out missing prices and declaring false advertising in a loud voice.

You can not bring yourself to dump an item anywhere other than back in its rightful place when you change your mind.

You have to pick up the merchandise that has dropped on the floor and alert team members of safety risks.

You glare at shoppers who open packaging then take an unopened one.

You confront miscreant demeanour by tipping off the security and joining in on covert activities.

You have no clue if those greeting you in public are customer or acquaintance.

The concept of following the madding crowds over Christmas is beyond you, preferring to aid Santa in his endeavour of overabundance and excess.

This is not an exhaustive list and I am sure there are endless lessons from fellow merchants, fresh and seasoned alike, who have great stories to tell or are guilty of wearing their retail hat beneath their Mufti.

We must not take ourselves too seriously in an industry that can be very intense. 

A toddler marvelled at the sights and sounds of the glitz in a high-end department store, pointing and remonstrating for a better look. A large floor display of furry toys caught their eye, and it is all the father could do to prevent the child from slipping from his clutches. Frustrated by the limited vantage point, the youngster demanded a closer inspection of the zoological puddle that was baying, quacking and mooing to a crowd of children.

To avoid the embarrassment of a tantrum, the dad leaned over the wire pool frame and lowered his kid onto the hillock of plush toys. Overstretched and with sudden subsidence, he lost his balance and plunged headfirst into the now screeching melee of distressed make-believe livestock. A deluge of plush cascaded from the ruptured wall, drowning him beneath the novelties. His baby perched on top chortling with glee.

Red-faced, the parent composed himself in the forlorn hope that no one, or at the least, few noticed his unfortunate escapade. Alas, all that was left for him was to take a bow to the rapturous applause of passers-by and to respond to the impertinence of two checkout operators displaying white cards with 10 scribbled on them.

Likewise, we should make the time to appreciate our family’s support and what they have to put with. It is a great career as long as we never forget retail is about people, for people and by the people.

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