As I was walking the sales floor on a beautiful summer day in our Sedona location a young girl, maybe 6 or 7 approached me with a belly dancing sash that tied around your pants. It was a loud hot pink with three rows of flimsy silver coins that captured the light beaming in from the window as they jingled. She stepped up on her tip toes as her mother’s back was turned to show me what she had found. I knelt to meet her and took the skirt gently, the mom just then noticed the exchange and grabbed her child by the shoulders as if waving off an attack. I ignored this as the young girl had began to speak, “How much is this.”
I opened my mouth to answer, “This is 9.95, and they are very nice. Perhaps…”
The mom looked at me with threat as if she would rip me to shreds for even trying to seduce her child into purchasing this item,”you are not” she spoke loud and stern, but I didn’t hesitate in my speech.
“…when you are older, like 14 or 15 you can come back and buy them. You are too beautiful for them right now.”
“getting those,” we completed our statements almost in unison. In annoyance she shoved the skirt into me while saying, still with threat in her voice, “I appreciate your candor.” With that she dragged the young girl out of the shop.
This is not an odd exchange with parents, in fact this is the typical exchange I receive from parents. Sadly, there must be salesmen out there swindling their pocketbooks from behind the innocence of their children. It’s saddening and disheartening, and an act that only villainizes your local sales associate even further.
I have witnessed such acts, only not when parents are present. It’s completely standard for parents to drop of their teens and pre-teens to wander the mall over a Saturday Afternoon unattended. As a mom myself the possible repercussions and dangers of a mall bear too much to even fathom doing this, but perhaps by the time my own daughter is 12 I will see things differently. There are times though that we have had small children as young as 6 left in our store to roam totally unsupervised for hours at a time.
I hear you reader, Oh my, why didn’t you call security?! Because I’d rather the kids left with me than in another store with a manager who could care less for children, one who would not protect them should some harm seem to come their way.
One of these times a young girl named Faith entered the store. She stood with her forehead just above my knee so Gar-Bear pulled out a stool so she could better see the hermit crabs that crawled in an open air terrarium in the center of the store. Faith was in heaven, and to be honest I believe Gary enjoyed watching this sweet girl’s excitement as she touched and observed the various colored and designed shells.
“How much are they,” she remarked.
“How much did mommy and daddy leave you with,” he asked.
She dug into her pocket and piled onto the counter a wad of cash that amounted to nearly 25 dollars. Gary smiled with delight as he picked up a mini kit and had her grab the tiniest crab. “You know we have an employee named faith…she’s just about your size too.” I had never seen him so genuinely happy to bring a smile to this girls face. But on the other hand I wondered if that was also supposed to be money to eat. I wondered who would leave a girl so innocent to wander and shop with money. I felt guilty taking her cash for a pet that her parents would most likely want nothing to do with. I hoped for the best but my stomach was determining the worst.
So a note to parents, salesmen are not out to turn your child against you, we want to have as much fun with them as you do. On the same note it is difficult for us to determine your personal boundary when you are not present in the store with your children. Maybe there can be some happy middle ground where we work together to make shopping the fun experience it can be for your kids.
What would you do in our shoes?