Ramblings About a Return to Retail

I designed, made and sold custom costumes for more than a decade. I also sold a lot of ready-made retail brands and accessories in my boutique. I absolutely LOVED making the costumes. The part I hated was actually selling them and dealing with customer service issues. Most the time my customers were wonderful people who made me happy to go to work every day. But sometimes, someone would come along and I’d get so fed up I’d be ready to quit. And then one day…I did.

I took a very long break, and while I have no intention of starting a full-fledged business again, I just started dipping my toe back into selling because I have too much costume stuff and it needs to go! Leftovers from the shop, costumes I never finished, clothing I never wore but intended to make into a costume, corsets I saved for myself and have never worn…so much stuff!

I’ve listed my handmade items on Etsy: Costumes and Corsets by Candy Keane

And retail items both new and used on Poshmark: Shop My Closet on Poshmark

A peek into the Three Muses boutique
A peek into the Three Muses boutique

The customers often made me love the work, but many times, especially around Halloween, I’d be ready to close up shop and run away from the insane demands of people who just didn’t seem to know how to treat other people decently. So as a little pre-venting exercise I compiled a list of all the people that used to drive me crazy when I ran a business.

My Top 10 Retail Offenders:

1. People who return stuff months later. I’ve had people try and return things a year later because they never wore it! People don’t seem to think this is an issue because “you can just resell it.” No. A small business has a small inventory. Once you purchase something, we’ve probably already re-ordered to restock and now we are stuck with an extra. Or it was seasonal and we aren’t even carrying it anymore. If it’s been over a month, it is officially your’s now.

2. Bargaining by showing cheaper examples on Amazon. This used to drive me crazy. If it’s cheaper there, then take a chance on getting the cheap thing and come back to me when you want something of quality.

3. People who don’t read. I take a lot of time describing the items I’m selling and I try and cover all the details and any possible flaws. And then there’s the people that buy something like “Silver Wonder Woman Cuffs,” clearly described as an acrylic costume piece, with Not Real Silver in bold text to avoid any confusion, and then they leave a one-star review because they thought they were real silver. I just can’t even….

4. People who need things NOW but choose the slowest shipping speed. I almost always offer the choice to upgrade shipping. I cannot count the number of times someone has ordered something and chosen the cheapest shipping that will take a week, and then messaged me to freak out that they MUST have it by a certain date. If you need it, pay for the right shipping speed.

5. Returning things that were obviously worn. I’ve had people come back in the shop with things wrinkled and shoved in a bag, all tags removed and reeking of smoke, and tell me with a straight face they’d like to return it. Um…NO.

6. The “I’m going to ask a million questions and then buy nothing” person. This person really likes your stuff! They have tons of very detailed questions! You spend lots of your very valuable time writing them back, doing extra measurements, maybe sending extra pics by request and then they don’t get anything. Ever. This is why after the second question I sometimes start taking about 24 hours to reply. I found I could spend a whole day doing back and forth with someone who has no intention of buying anything.

7. The person who asks for a discount, and then turns into the biggest pain in the butt. It always seemed like the person I went out of my way to accommodate would end up causing me the most anguish. I am still working on setting better limits and not being “too nice.”

8. The person who trashes your business without ever saying anything to you. These are the people that might have an issue with an order, but instead of asking about a return or exchange, just get online and leave a bad review. Or come into your store, act weird and run out the door without saying anything, then leave bad reviews everywhere online about how you didn’t help them. That really happened.

9. People who expect too much. If you buy something on the cheaper end and it starts to come apart, well…you get what you pay for. This is the reason I didn’t carry a lot of the cheaper costume lines. People pay $20 for a whole costume made of paper thin polyester and then can’t understand why it busted after one wear.

10. The mean people. I just don’t get this one. The people that get their order and have an issue, but instead of asking nicely about a resolution, message you just launch into a tirade about how bad their order is. Usually these people can also be lumped into the “people who don’t read” category. Haven’t they heard that whole thing about flies and honey? If you come at me angry, I’m mostly going to be pissed and not be very helpful. But message me like a civilized human being and I will bend over backwards to make you happy with your order.

DO you own a small business? Have you run into any of these people? What drives you crazy about dealing with customer service? Feel free to vent 🙂

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