I recently fell in love with a grand Victorian reproduction Aged-Iron Bed by Wesley Allen, while window-shopping in a West-End Toronto neighbourhood full of little independent specialty stores. It was the blandest part of late winter when I pressed my cold nose to the window of this beautiful bedding shop and drooled, imagining this piece of Victoriana in my century old home. I just couldn’t resist. I went in, asked the price, and promptly went out. Too soon after the holidays to partake in such an unnecessary indulgence for this woman! The weeks passed…and the bed was still there. Again I went in and again I went out…and again, another day, and yet another. You get the picture. The merchant, feeling my “pain” and wanting to make me happy (and perhaps also wanting to make a sale to ease her own February blahs), proposed I buy the floor model. What could I do? She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse! And so, I plunked down a 50% deposit and waited five weeks for the new bed she ordered, to take the place of my soon-to-be bed in her storefront window. When the new one came, I’d get mine. Fabulous…and what a deal she gave me, too!
The big day arrived just last weekend and away I flew to the shop to pay the balance and take my prize home. I was thrilled and all smiles. She was not. Why, you may ask? As I handed her my debit card, she lamented that she’d had a terrible fight (I actually think she said fights) with her husband about letting the bed go at such a price. She told me that it had been nothing but headaches for her for the past five weeks with him, and that she’d had to bear her husband’s repeated taunts that she was not a good business woman. Did I want to hear this at this point? Did I twist her arm to sell the bed to me at the price that she, herself, suggested? No. Why was she telling her gleeful customer–me!–at the very moment of sales transaction, that she was sorry she sold me a piece of her store’s inventory? What was to be gained at that point???
I ended up feeling somewhat wrong–even bad–and then annoyed at myself for feeling that way. I felt compelled to comfort and reassure her, as I gushed and waxed poetic about the bed and promised to tell everyone where I got it. Anything to see a smile on her face and send me out the door glad she’d made the sale. As a customer I wanted her to share in my happiness. Didn’t happen.
What’s the lesson here for anyone in sales (or anyone in any professional predicament, where one finds oneself agreeing to terms with a colleague or client, that they later regret)? Even if you do regret terms of agreement you willingly proposed, honour them with joy on your face and in your heart when the other comes to metaphorically or literally collect.
Instead of crying the blues to me, this shop owner would have been better to say, “Nina, I just want to remind you that I’ve given you a stupendous deal on this bed and so I hope you enjoy it and come back to my shop to purchase all the lovely bedding you’ll need to dress it up in style!” She could have asked me if I wanted “fries” with that.
The way things have been left, the energy is now a bit tainted and may take some time for me to get over, each time I pass by or enter that store. And, in a worse case scenario, may even make me choose another shop, instead, for further related items, so that I can avoid the discomfort of knowing that my presence may bring up the memory of a strained few weeks between this person and her business partner husband.
P. S. While writing this blog and to her credit, the merchant called me to make sure that all was well with the bed.