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Opinion and Editorial

Stay Informed: Sales Associates and You (the Consumer)

gapI’ve been working as a sales associate at Gap for nearly two years now. I can tell you with confidence, that I have seen and heard it all. There’s a lot that goes on with us sales associates and our own little world we’re in, whether or not we’re trying to serve your every shopping whim.

After hearing from all different associates from all different stores and retail experiences, I’ve decided to compile a list of things that us associates wish you, as a customer and consumer, would understand.


1. Sales Associates Don’t Judge you Based on your Shirt or Pant Size.

We love to shop for you and help you find outfits.
We love to shop for you and help you find outfits.

Seriously. We don’t; not at all. If we tell you to try a larger or smaller size, we’re not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. All we care about is making sure our clothes fit your body properly. Honestly, not all clothes are created equal. You may be one size in one style of pant, and a size larger in a different style pant. It’s just how the clothes are made, not how your body is shaped.

2. Shopping Etiquette is Appreciated.

Imagine folding your laundry for four or more hours straight. If that alone is enough to make you shudder, keep in mind the sales associate that works at your favorite store and try to shop neatly. We all know stores get messy, but they won’t ever be perfect. It just needs to be shop-able for other customers. On busy days, it’s extremely hard to balance tidiness with all our other tasks.

Message from a fellow associate:

“It’s NOT okay to leave clothes and hangers askew in the fitting room. Yes, it’s our job to fold your unwanted clothes and put them back, but there’s no need to make our jobs harder. If you find yourself saying, ‘I left all my stuff in there, I didn’t want it. Hope that’s okay,’ we hate you.”

– Brianna, Forever 21

3. Your Reputation Precedes you.

Some stores use walkie-talkies as a form of communication between associates and managers. It makes our lives easier when needing help…or describing a customer. This is our rule of karma. If you’re rude or unpleasant to any of us without any true reason, or if you’re incredibly wonderful, we will nickname you for future reference.

Message from a fellow associate:

“An example is Returns Lady. Returns Lady is a customer that constantly buys a large amount of clothes, and then comes back within a week to return them all to try to buy them back and a reduced price if they have since gone on sale since her initial purchase.”

– Anonymous, Old Navy 

4. Don’t Shoot the Messenger.

Nine times out of ten, we are told to give you a spiel about our store credit card, a promotional item, or some sort of gimmick that makes you spend more money. Don’t get mad, just be polite. It’s our job to tell you, and trust us, we don’t like it either.

Message from a fellow associate: 

“I have no control over prices, sizes, the font size on coupons, or the traffic on your way here. If something like this has upset you, while I do apologize, I can do nothing about it. Screaming at me until you’re red in the face and a vein starts popping out of your neck will accomplish nothing but make me want to help you less and possibly give yourself an aneurism.”

– Anonymous, Lane Bryant

5. Patience is a Virtue and a Godsend.

Patience on both parts is key.
Patience on both parts is key.

Some days are busier than others, a lot busier. We truly want to help all of you, and we love when you’re super patient and understanding.

Message from a fellow associate:

“If people see that we are super busy yet still demand to be taken care of immediately, then we don’t need your business. We understand that some people are in a rush, but it’s not an excuse to be rude to the associates and other customers that are just trying to help the process. If someone was there first, wait your turn to be helped.”

– Carson V., Staples 

Just remember, we sales associates aren’t evil. If you ask us to help you shop, we will try to save you money and make sure you get everything you want. We thrive on customer service, and love a positive experience just as much as you do! It’s what makes our job rewarding and worth it.



If you have a story idea, please submit it by tweeting @StayInformedBU or email it to StayInformedBU@yahoo.com. Remember that any selected ideas or experiences will automatically be kept anonymously unless otherwise noted. 

Stay Tuned and Stay Informed!

Lauren McCullough is currently a second-semester Junior at Bloomsburg University and is a Mass Communications & Public Relations Major and the author of the Stay Informed web-series.