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Keener Working Retail This Summer

Published July 31, 2009

I'm working one day a week on the sales floor this summer. Goal #1: To get myself more familiar with the needs and thought processes of today's consumers. Goal #2: To find out what today's bike shop staffers are all about. What motivates them? What social networking are they doing?  

My sales gig is at the Bicycle Village store in Boulder, about 8 blocks from my house. I've easily spent a hundred hours in this store shooting sales training video, and this is the first time I've been handed an apron and an employee code. I'll be on the BRaIN Blog every week talking about my experiences, check it out! 

My first day, I spent three hours on the company training website. I did pretty well on the quizzes, then they turned me loose on the sales floor. My first sale was an inner tube, big whoop, eh? But it turned out to be more interesting than I thought. 

The customer came in with a flat, steel-rim front wheel, 700 x 40 tire at least 15 years old, suffering from standard ozone rot. Wants to know if he can just replace the tube. So I pop in a new tube, fill it up, the casing looks sturdy, I take him to the register to pay for the tube. 

And the cashier charges him for my labor as well as the tube. The irony here is pretty thick. After a decade or two of advising shop staff to charge what they're worth, don't do free labor, never apologize for the price, here I am feeling all queasy because I didn't tell the customer it would be an extra $5. 

Lesson learned: Things look a little different depending on which side of the counter you inhabit. So stay tuned for more Tales from the Sales Floor, weekly on the BRaIN Blog.

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