Fact: Earlier this morning I drank two Nalgene bottles of water, a Donald Duck orange juice, and a large cup of coffee. Fact: My bladder is the size of a small kiwi.
So with these two important facts in the back of your head, let me describe my situation. The store had been steadily busy all morning, so even though I needed to make a quick run to the bathroom, I had been too busy to make a quick getaway. I had just finished ringing up a woman when I saw my chance to sneak off to the backroom. As I turned to leave my post, the “ring” of the bell over the door signaled that I would have to wait at least another minute while I greeted the customer, “Hello!”
I turn to lay my eyes on a mom with energetic kids in tow. The two boys are about 12 and 10, the little girl about 5. The mom heads toward me and I know before she opens her mouth that I might be here a while. Another deep breath.
“My boys are in the Scouts and I need to get some equipment for this weekend’s trip.”
“Ok”, I say, “what do you need to buy?”
She pulls out a list. I grit my teeth. “Well, we need a tent, some bags, and gear for cooking food.” My bladder quivers.
In the meantime, her two Scouts have found the basket of “Life is Good” super bouncy balls and behind my head, I hear menacing giggles and loud thwacks as the balls smack our hollow wooden floors. I try to focus on mom. As I turn my attention back to “the list”, I look down and see the young girl smirking at me from around her mom’s legs. Then my nose picks up the scent. Like a dead animal in the heat of the summer, something foul was adrift. Again my bladder quivered. This time I took no deep breath.
“Back to the list”, I told myself, “just get this woman some gear.” I start telling her what we have, what she may need, and comparing prices. The smell got worse and now the two Scouts had found the new Columbia River Knife Sharpener display. Essentially it is a spring on a rock pole with a cap on top. Won’t explain what happens when someone pushed down the spring and lets it shoot up, but I nearly had to dive to avoid a flying cap that almost took out my eye. I was getting a little ticked. And it now smelled even worse.
“If my boys are getting too rowdy, you can tell them to behave”, I was told by the mom.
“I do the gear, you do the parenting” I thought to myself. 20 minutes later, after I had thoroughly educated this woman and her two scouts while avoiding passing out from bladder pain, she decided to “shop around and compare prices.”
As they left the store, I couldn’t help notice a sly smirk from the little girl as I hurdled boxes of Chacos that lay between my bladder and the bathroom.
by Daniel Dore
Through July 1, retail sales staff answered the contest call to submit a story of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. The story titles with summaries that made the first round of qualifications are listed below, and each is now in the hands of our judges to decide on the top 10. You can read each story in its entirety by going to the contest landing page — click here.
Ten lucky story writers will each win over $1,000 in product prizes based on the contest judges’ votes. Here is where you come in! Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007. Three others will be named official “honorable mentions,” and in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event, such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous. The grand prize winner will be announced at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006. We will determine the grand prize winner and the three runner up winners based on popular vote (sorry judges) — those among the top ten receiving the most votes win, it’s that simple. This is for store pride, for knowing you have a winner amongst you, so vote as often as you like. Tell your friends. Tell your friends friends. Tell your dog — but only if he can work a computer keyboard.
Deadline for voting is August 1, 2006.Click here to register your vote now!
Did you miss out on this year’s contest? Bummer, but no worries. If you haven’t already done so, outdoor retail staff can get ready for next year by activating a subscription now at www.outsidebusinessjournal.com/freeretail/snewsarticle-contest.html. Then, watch your SNEWS® for announcements calling for our next contest entries and get ready to be a winner.