How Not To Be A Dick In A Second-Hand Shop

From thrift stores to luxury boutiques, each place I worked was different in their own way. What wasn't different? Customer dickery.
Publish date:
July 4, 2013
how not to be a dick, thrift stores, working retail sucks

Not only am I am avid thrifter and vintage-collector, but over the years, I’ve worked at a variety of second-hand shops. From thrift stores to luxury boutiques, each place I worked was different in their own way. What wasn't different? Customer dickery. I found that no matter the level of fanciness, rude customers were all the same.

Even now, I’m shocked when I witness people being outright dicks. I always say that everyone should experience being a sales person, waiter and/or telemarketer once in their lives. Having to deal with people on a regular basis makes you a better person and builds character. Once you’ve been in those shoes, you have a better respect and understanding of the people around you.

Ultimately, these top 10 “rules” I’ve culminated act as a guideline to myself as a shopper. Although I now work in an office, I always remember the pains of retail and try my best to stay considerate in any shopping adventures.

1. Don’t be messy.

As a shopper, I know how packed racks are and how potentially overwhelming the store can feel. It’s possible you just want to just pull shit out and see what’s there. Sometime when that happens though, or you’re in a rush, hangers get broken and clothes get thrown aside or under racks.

Although it may not seem like it, there’s usually a system in place and if you’re uber messy, it just makes it that much harder to re-organize. Also, if you break a hanger, it’s no big deal, just make sure and bring it to the front so we can replace it. Hiding it out of guilt just makes the shop look messy, especially if another shopper finds it.

2. Keep the dressing room tidy.

This ties in with whole “Don’t be messy” thing. So look, I know it’s not “your job,” but it’s really disheartening for a person to go into the fitting room with five or six things and leave every item off the hanger, rumpled on the floor. Not only is it extra work for the sales person, but it can potentially damage the clothes. They are old, you know!

3. Don’t play dress up.

This basically means, don’t go shopping if you know you can’t buy anything. Window shopping is one thing, but many people would come into the store, try practically everything on and then not buy a single thing. Yes, you totally have the right to try to things on and not buy stuff, but try to keep it within reason.

Before trying on, you should also check measurements on certain items that look delicate. If you try and squeeze into it, you might end up breaking original zippers or popping a button. If you do, just be honest and fess up rather than hiding it on the rack. It makes the store look bad if the items are damaged.

On a side note, try not to turn your dressing room into a photo shoot. As a blogger, I sometimes feel the urge, but then I remember how annoying this can be, especially if people are waiting to use the dressing room. A few photos are cool, just be mindful if others are waiting.

4. Don’t ask if everything is “used.”

OK, seriously, unless you live under a rock, you know what a vintage store is and that the word vintage implies second-hand, a.k.a. used. If someone is genuinely asking, of course, I answer, but most of the time it’s said by someone who wants to be snarky. You can tell by the way they say the word, “used.” I’ve also heard, “This is nice, but I would never pay this much for ‘used.’” That’s something they could have totally kept to themselves.

5. If the item is missing a tag, don’t say, “Guess it must be free, huh?”

This joke is not funny or original. You wouldn’t think people were so predictable, but I literally heard this every single time something was missing a tag. Har-dee-har. No, it’s not free.

6. If you must ask for a discount, please ask nicely.

First of all, look where you are. If the shop is upscale and luxurious, think twice about asking. Ask courteously if you must, but for higher end boutiques, those prices are there for a reason. On the other hand, many thrift shops are more than happy to give you a small discount IF you ask nicely. If you’re nice from the start, they might even give you a discount just for being awesome. It doesn’t do you any good to be super rude and ask them to “hook you up” over and over. Nobody needs business that bad and they will definitely turn you down.

7. Don’t ask for an outrageous discount (a.k.a. 50% or more).

‘Nuff said. It’s rude and insulting. It implies that you don’t take the shop or our job seriously.

I’ve literally heard, “You’re charging way too much for this,” or “I could get this for so much cheaper ‘here and there’” I never knew how to respond to that. What am I supposed to do with that information?” Some people strongly feel the need to add their two cents, which is so strange to me. Sure, we’ve all thought those things before, but it’s totally unnecessary to tell the sales person. It’s just negative for no reason, especially since sometimes they don’t even have say over the price. If a store seems too expensive, just walk right out, no comment necessary.

8. Keep an eye on your kids.

This is a given at any store, but definitely keep your kids in check! I remember a few instances where parents let their children go wild in a thrift store. I’m not going to lie, no matter how much we cleaned, this particular thrift store was constantly dusty. One day, a young woman and her son came in to browse. She was completely even-tempered as her child started scream, run around the store and literally drag themselves across the dust. I can’t blame her for ignoring them (or, well,yes, I can), but a thrift shop is definitely not the place for children to go nuts. I felt like a babysitter at times, which was definitely not in the job description.

9. Don’t be rude to a buyer or tell them how much something is worth.

Buying for consignment and resale shops are a whole other ballgame of dickery. Although I was only in consignment for a few weeks, it gave me an idea of what resale shops deal with. I learned that basically, yes, it’s a given that you will not receive the full amount your item is worth. Why? Because they have to resell it. Plain and simple.

Just keep in mind that the person buying your things knows what they’re doing and is just doing their job. They’re not trying to cheat you somehow. To get the most money for your item, you would need to personally put in the time and work, whether that means posting online or having a stoop sale.

If your item happens to get passed on, your best bet is to suck it up. It’s a bummer but there are certain reasons things get passed on and, if you ask nicely, the buyer will be more than happy to tell you why. There’s also no shame in holding onto the item if the buyer offers a number that you find too low.

10. Be aware.

If something looks delicate, be gentle with it, or don’t touch it at all. Sometimes there are signs signaling when something is off-limits or appointment only. It’s not a crime to miss a sign, but just stay aware of your surroundings (which is good advice anywhere).

Hope this was helpful. Happy shopping!