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I’m in the gift shop a lot more these days, where, when compared to other departments, you are less likely to interact with children or with men who are there voluntarily. A lot of people with small children in tow take one peek into the room, say, “Nope, too breakable” and lead their child away in one fell swoop. Any men who enter are usually begrudgingly trailing their wivesor girlfriends until they find the cleverly placed lodge/hunting/fishing section. I’m not here to generalize, though. One woman, when I asked how she was, told me she was doing well but then gestured to her husband and implied that he wasn’t doing as well due to their location. Her husband smilingly responded, “Now, that’s not true. I LOVE trinkets.” This is not an isolated incident. Many men love poking around that department at our unusual selection. So unusual, in fact, that sometimes they’re unsure what an item is. One such man pointed out a pair of metal boots we have and asked me if they were spitoons (which I wasn’t aware there was still a market for.) As they were nestled among false plants, I’d assumed they were planters, but, to be honest, I’d never recieved any verbal confirmation of that. “I think they’re for planting,” I began, “but I guess you COULD use them as…” At this point, his wife, who was looking at jewelery across the room, interjected, with the precise timing that can only be developed out of necessity, “No. No. You’re not getting them to spit in.”
We had two males in the gift room for an extended period of time last week when we replaced the lights with brighter and more energy-efficident bulbs (which really do make a huge difference. You should come check them out! Today. Unless we’re closed, in which case, tomorrow.) Despite clearing off the top shelves around the room to minimize possible breakage, it was a terrifying experience for everyone involved. One bulb-installer likened the room to his aunt’s house, where you can’t move without possibly knocking something over. I tried my hardest to not make it look like I was following them around like they were five, but, well… I kind of was.
We also have a new sound system that allows us to play, in the Gift, Card AND Candle Departments, some of the lovely CDs we have for sale, making work infinately more relaxing. Right now our lineup consists of tranquil spa-like music (by George Skaroulis), jazz music (in keeping with our wine and cocktail themed gift merchandise), and some piano instrumental CDs by a fellow named Don Irwin. He apparently sounds like some other artist more than one customer has mentioned to me, whose name I do not recall. Mr. Irwin has composed his own music, but he also covers popular songs, many of which are the mellow, lilting type you’d expect: In The Arms of The Angels by Sarah McLauglin, Sail Away by Enya, and, for some inexplicable reason, Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely by the immortal Backstreet Boys (the latter of which everyone between the ages of 16 and 30 immediately recognizes, but refuses to admit so until someone else mentions it.) Needless to say, the album that includes the Backstreet Boys cover is my favorite in the current CD mix.
In the Gift Room you don’t have the benefit of other co-workers being around, but it evens out because this is the department where you feel the most accomplished if you sell something. (Or, at least, I do.) I had one insane day in the winter where I sold three of the largest items – not necessarily in price, but in size. A gigantic rabbit statue, a suncatcher that took up almost the entire length of an average door, and a birch bark table – the room looked quite a bit emptier by the end of the day!
Another perk of gifts is that you can talk a bit more with the customers who do come in. Two older women came in one day talking like old friends, and then revealed to me that this was the first day they’d seen each other in 35 years. They were former neighbors, and despite the time gap, they had picked up right where they left off and it was just like, as one woman said, the old days. It sure looked like it to me!
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