My First Best Shopping Experience


I have exactly four hours to find the right shoes for Andy’s wedding and get back to the hotel before Netjets sends me my brief.  I can’t believe they won’t let me just go home, but a night out in Atlanta isn’t all bad. My new friend Steven is picking me up at the FBO to take me shopping and he insists we go to Saks.  Geez.  I can’t afford Saks.  I’m paying for this stupid rehearsal dinner and no one has even RSVP’d but I know at least 40 people are showing up.  I don’t have the money to buy shoes, too, but my flying boots won’t go with my gold dress.  At least in my uniform I won’t be tempted to shop for anything besides shoes.

“May I help you?” this nice young man asks.  He isn’t that young.  He’s about my age.  He’s nicely dressed and his tie complements the color of his short.  He isn’t pushy, but I know he’s there.  Steven steps in a little closer.

“I’m looking for shoes for my son’s wedding.”

“Oh my, how exciting!” the salesperson exclaims.  He tells me his name is Jonathan.  “Tell me about your dress.  What color is it?”

I describe the dress and he gets the vision before he guides me over and to exactly what I need.

Steven is impatiently waiting.  I know he wants to get something to eat, but for once I’m really having fun with shopping.  Girl clothes aren’t something I do often, nor even something I do very well.

“Can you hurry up?” Steven asks.

“Give me a minute,” I tell him.  “My son’s wedding is a big deal and I need to look like I’m having fun, whether I am or not.”

Steven sighs and rolls his eyes.  Jonathan is quick to jump in.

“Do you need jewelry to accent the neckline of your dress?” he asks.  “I think I know just what you need.  Judith Ripka would be perfect and within your price range.”

By now, Steven has rolled his eyes so many times that I’m pretty sure he’s seen his brain at least twice.  He sighs loudly.

I follow Jonathan over to one of the jewelry counter.  This is beautiful.  A necklace and earrings.  I’m going to look great.  I hand over my Visa. I sense Steven’s impatience.

“Steven, seriously? Why don’t you go get something to eat and I will call you when I’m back in town. I’ll get a taxi back to the hotel.”

“Fine,” he says, as he turns and I watch him exit.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  I didn’t like him much, anyway.

“Now what about a handbag?” Jonathan asks.  “A Judith Lieber is timeless and if anything ever goes wrong with it, they’ll repair it.”

I don’t even know who Judith Lieber is but I follow him to yet another area of the store.  He pulls out a gorgeous bag that is covered with tiny crystals.

“It will only hold your car keys and lipstick, but that’s all you need.”  I whip out my credit card, once again, realizing that I need to work at least 5 extended days this next month to pay for the damage.

But how good it feels.  For a few hours, Jonathan has helped me feel my feminine side.  For a few hours, I have escaped being Captain Greenway and have just enjoyed being a “girl.”

I never saw Steven after that day, but my friendship with Jonathan is stronger than ever, after 19 years and all kinds of life changes.  Jonathan provides a level of service that keeps his customers coming back.  Successful personal selling requires building a relationship with your customers, a concept that many salespeople do not understand.  Even when I was on an extremely tight budget, I was always treated like I was valued.  To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

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