I had a first happen to me this week. I strolled out of Samurai Sushi on Vancouver’s Davie Street with a full stomach, as I so often do when I’m in this part of the world, and noticed a clothing shop that caught my eye–which shall remain nameless on this blog for lack of free advertising. As I tried to enter, I was immediately greeted by a super metro/emo shop employee, who asked if I was there to see Fiona (name has been changed).
When I replied that no, I was simply browsing, he explained how Fiona is one of the best in the business, and that she has the magical quality of knowing exactly what every customer will look great in. Confident in my own style, I politely declined a second time and took a step towards a particular shirt that I wanted to investigate further. Apparently, my second decline was a battle cry, as I was told by the clerk that browsing was not allowed in this store. In other words, it’s Fiona or the highway. He also made clear that she knows European styles, as if that was supposed to impress someone who, unbeknownst to him, has already been to Europe 4 times since 2012 began.
Just as I was about to walk out, a middle-aged woman with gray hair stormed at me, and in a heavy-German/Scandinavian accent, asked where I was from. “DC,” I replied…and she immediately told me that she had been to DC, she knows the styles there, etc. Given that I had to get going, I wasn’t interested in a full consultation, and so I continued to exit…to some grumbling under this woman’s breath.
My business mind was churning. I understand that business is all about differentiation, and if this woman does in fact have a gift for styling and wants to sell that service, that’s great for her. I can say for sure that what I experienced was “different”. However, by being so aggressive, she may be alienating two-thirds of her potential client base–especially people like me, who simply don’t like being told what to do or what to like. I can’t recall how many times that I’ve been traveling, walked into a clothing shop that caught my eye, and purchased something (often more expensive than I would have otherwise) on impulse. I kept thinking…if this woman was not interested in any of that sort of retail traffic, but only on her styling services…why would she bother paying rent in one of Vancouver’s pricier neighborhoods? I suspect the average passerby who wanders in is not going to take too kindly to such an aggressive, abrasive sales approach.
I’m curious to find out more about this shop and how it performs. This business must be heavily dependent upon referral business, in which case, it might as well safe itself the pricey rent, and save unaware passersby from a potentially humiliating run-in with the shop’s staff.