The Ever Shrinking World

So while I was at work today at Nordstrom, I saw an older lady over in our petite section who was scanning a rack of Eileen Fischer Button Cuff Ankle Pants. In my mind, I thought, probably just another retired lady who’s going to complain about how expensive Eileen Fischer pieces are or tell me she’s having an impossible time finding anything she likes like so many of our older customers. Either way though, being commission based, I can’t let anyone walk away without reaching out so I walked over and asked if I could offer her any assistance today.

She (let’s call her K) told me that she had found the pants in a Petite Small, but was looking for a Petite Petite if possible. Quickly checking out the rack, I saw that we had none on the floor so I offered to look it up on our database for whether we had one somewhere else in the store. While I was looking for the pants, I made some small talk asking her how was her day, if she had any plans for later in the day, and what the pants were for. As a newly hired sales associate, I’ve learned quickly that the best way to connect with your customer or add to your sales is to ask questions about them and what they’re shopping for. For example, if a customer was looking at a pair of black slacks, I would also ask them if they were looking for work clothes in general and suggest a couple blazers, blouses, and dress shirts for them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You never know until you try, so always try.

Anyway, in this case, the small talk helped her and I realize that we’re connected closer than we thought! The Eileen Fischer pants that she was planning to buy is actually for a Japan trip that she would be leading as a professor at Depaul University. Way cool. Genuinely interested, I asked about where she was planning to go, if she’s been before, and any travel recommendations that she has because I’m currently saving up money this summer to pay a trip to Asia during Winter Break. From this information she guessed that I’m a college student and asked me what school I went to and where I wanted to go in Japan. Now when I get asked the first part of this question, I normally just tell people that I go to school at a small liberal arts school in Boston and leave it at that because most of the time, your typical Midwesterner is clueless that a school called Tufts even exists so I just don’t bother. Also just fyi, at this point, the pants could not be found in Petite Petite (PP) so I was just ringing her out for the PS.

Imagine my surprise when she actually knew of Tufts and was ecstatic to hear that! Her face actually lit up when I said Tufts. As an Asian Arts Professor, she had actually worked with Tufts students and faculty before in Japan for Art History and some volunteer work and had high praises for the school. But that wasn’t even our best connection. K later also told me that she traveled to Boston earlier this year to run the Boston Marathon and that Tufts had by far the best cheering sections!!!! I mean… at this point, I was just  completely flabbergasted because I volunteered this year at the Boston Marathon and had probably watched her run by, cheered her on, and possibly handed her gatorade to drink. Too weird. I honestly couldn’t believe this. It was too coincidental. We both got really excited after discovering this fact and ended up talking about how the Marathon went this year, how Harvard sucked because they didn’t even have a volunteer squad, and how she thought Tufts was fantastic because we had shown so much support for the runners. K even showed me some of the pictures she had on her phone from the marathon. By the end of this whole ordeal , I was beaming with happiness. K made my day. So I guess I just have a few take aways from this.

1. The world is so so so small. Also tonight, another friend of mine currently in Beijing, China WeChatted me and asked me if I knew someone named Astro at Tufts…. I do. He lived in the same dorm as me this year. I met him during Pre-O. We see each other at the gym all the time. Somehow out of all the people in Beijing, my friend from Naperville meets my friend from Tufts. Crazy.

2. Tufts connections exist. I recently talked  to a prospie interested in Tufts and told him about the reputation of Tufts in the Midwest when he asked. There will be people you tell that think you go to community college. And if you’re someone like me whose family friends all have kids who have done really well for themselves so they’re only familiar with the ivy league and uc schools, you’ll have their parents going “oh, that’s nice” not really knowing what to say. But nonetheless, Tufts connections do exist, and the people who know Tufts, know that you go to a kick ass school.

3. Talk to people. It might be a little scary at first and people can be very reserved and difficult to initially crack, but so many people have such great stories and you’re probably connected in ways that you could never imagine at first thought. Really, the world is smaller than you think.

4. Finally, connecting to customers on a more personal level is fantastic because it makes them want to shop with you more. I’m happy to say that K now plans to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (July 18th – August 3rd) with me when she gets back from Japan which means I’ll have more money for my own Japan trip!

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