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Good sales clerks can make or break a store

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POSTED September 12, 2010 2:23 a.m.
Lucy and Louisa are solid gold sales associates.

The two work at the JC Penney store in Stockton.

So is their counterpart in the home department at the Manteca JC Penney store.

I got the pleasure of meeting the three based on a decision made a month ago to have the hardwood floor throughout my home replaced with vintage cherry laminate flooring. The hardwood I had wasn’t in great shape. It was OK. My problem was the carpet that remained in the bedrooms. I couldn’t stand it or the fact it collected dust faster than I could every hope to clean it. Of course, I vacuumed every six months whether it needed it or not.

I should have known what was going to happen after I had the new flooring in place. It made me less than thrilled about the kitchen and bathroom which are up next on my list to stimulate the economy when I get the cash saved.

I figured that was all I needed. I was wrong.

The bed spread somehow didn’t look right any more.

I’m the type of guy who is content to use something until it is six or seven years beyond its useful life. As an example, I had some pillows for close to 20 years I used every day until the flooring was in place. They somehow no longer looked right. (OK, let’s be honest. They were in hideous shape.) The bed spread was six years old and OK but it didn’t complement the flooring I had just spent about half of the price that my parents did on buying their first house in 1951 for $7,800.

So I had been spending the month or so looking at bed spreads. I was trying to be careful to find something that once I got it wouldn’t encourage me to do something stupid like paint the walls.

I was with a friend looking for bed spreads at the Vacaville Outlets when I came across the one major weakness I have - Wilson’s Leather.

I can’t explain it but I own 14 leather jackets including one that I paid more for than all of my “jackets” the 30 years prior. I keep telling myself I only went a little nuts with leather jackets because I wore second hand clothes growing up and never really splurged on clothes over the years. I really don’t know the reason. I do know, however, I can spend 30 minutes in Kohl’s trying to decide whether to spend $15 on a dress shirt but I can walk into a Wilson’s Leather store and in three minutes or less decide to spend a couple hundred dollars or so on one or two leather jackets.

I had no intention of buying a jacket in Vacaville. But I walked in anyway and - you guessed it - there was a jacket I just had to have. The price kind of floored me as it was a tad under $300. I didn’t really need it but I had the cash and I wanted it.

I couldn’t find the size I wanted so I asked the clerk for help. I explained to her what I wanted and she pointed from about 10 feet away and then walked back to the counter. There was no one else in the store besides another clerk. I asked if she could help me retrieve one from a rack just out of reach. Just about that time her cell phone rang. She then carried on an animated conversation with someone who she had gone to a party with and proceeded to walk away.

That is exactly what I did. I walked away and out the door and left empty handed for the first time ever that I’ve stepped into a Wilson’s Leather store.

That clerk’s general rudeness contrasted sharply with the pleasant and professional assistance I got at both the Manteca and Stockton JC Penney stores.

And, in case anyone who is in management at Wilson’s Leather is interested, that money I didn’t spend in their store prompted me to spend more than I intended at JC Penney as I purchased decorative pillows that match the bedspread.

Good sales associates are invaluable to both customers and retailers.
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