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November 6, 2017

Mrs. Chatterbox recently asked a question that I tried to answer truthfully, but my response prompted a conversation I’d like to have discussed in a broader arena.


Mrs. C. made a trip to one of her favorite clothing stores and selected a blouse (women call them tops). At the register, the cashier said, “This is a popular top. I’ve rung up four of them today.”


Mrs. C. admitted that this comment bothered her, made her feel like what she was purchasing wasn’t special. She still made the purchase but her enthusiasm for it was gone. I commented that it was foolish for her to think she was buying anything unique when it was purchased off the “rack.” Unless someone like Oscar de la Renta came back from the dead and designed an exclusive outfit, most apparel items are mass produced. Mrs. C. admitted that this was true, but it wasn’t something she wanted to hear from a salesperson. Years ago while working in retail I learned an adage; you don’t sell the steak; you sell the sizzle. This cashier had removed the sizzle from Mrs. C’s purchase.


I began asking myself if this would have affected me. If I were interested in a pair of shoes and the salesperson informed me that the shoes I’d chosen were popular and he’d sold several pairs that day, I don’t think I’d have given it a second thought. I recently purchased a suit for our son’s wedding at The Men’s Wearhouse and the salesperson informed me that my suit was one of their best sellers. The only thing bothering me was that I’d picked the only suit in the place not on sale. When I buy art supplies it doesn’t matter if I select brushes or paints that are popular. Maybe it has to do with the item being purchased?


What about you? If you’d selected an item in a store and the cashier commented that it was a good seller and they’d rung up several that day, would it lessen your enthusiasm?


Would it depend on the item being purchased? 




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Like you it probably wouldn't bother me, however my partner I am sure would feel differently...............
By: John on November 6, 2017
If it were a pair of shoes I could care less, if it was a bathing big deal...however if it was an outfit for a special occasion I might care-but once you put on a special dress with your own earrings etc it's yours and yours alone.
By: Kathe W. on November 6, 2017
In general, it probably wouldn't bother me. That said, I wouldn't really want to walk into a function and see someone else wearing the same thing. It might look much better on them! ;)
By: Kelly on November 6, 2017
IMHO: You were on to something with your mentioning sizzle. In this case, the context is the associated feelings Mrs. C's had in selecting something that she felt good in purchasing. Only to have a sales person rob her of shopping experience... which in the grand scheme of things differs from the generic male shopping experience. The absence of understanding and your generalization of the experience is on all accounts the emotional difference between us.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 6, 2017
It does depend on whether it's something you want to feel is unique. And some people are trend setters or "early adopters" so the thought 4 other people beat them to it would be draining.
By: PT Dilloway on November 6, 2017
I think that is the kind of thing that would tend to bother a woman more than a man, however I see her point. Most sales people just say, "That is an excellent choice." And that suits me fine.
By: cranky on November 6, 2017
It wouldn't bother me at all. I think this phenomenon is a gender thing.
By: scott park on November 6, 2017
Funny reaction. It wouldn't bother me a bit. I'd actually be surprised that I found something I liked that other people liked as well.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on November 6, 2017
We were invited us to a cocktail party at the apartment of one of Bud's clients. I had never met him.. I had no idea of what was appropriate to wear. I knew there would be several other couples there that I had not met. We were to go out to dinner or somewhere afterwards--I donât remember where. I bought a suit & hoped I would fit in. I knew I was properly dressed when another couple arrived & the woman was wearing the exact same suit as I was, but in a different color!I
By: Fran Fischer on November 6, 2017
I'd say you were right on with the steak vs sizzle analysis. That salesperson was thinking "sales" instead of how to make her customer feel about her own individual purchase. If this is a common mistake for her, she won't do as well in women's clothing as she could.
By: jenny_o on November 6, 2017
Actually I would be flattered that I had trendy taste.
By: Arkansas Patti on November 6, 2017
I haven't gone shopping in so long that I don't know what I'd think. The computer doesn't comment when I place orders online. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 6, 2017
I would feel as your wife because our culture emphasizes a woman's appearance and style and we do like to think we are special. This does not hold true for everything purchase...but certainly apparel. The salesperson could have added, "this particular color is perfect for you" or somesuch.
By: Tabor on November 6, 2017
I doubt that it would bother me at all, statements like this lead me to believe that I either got a good deal or the quality of what I am buying is better than the other choices because this is the one everyone is choosing. Most likely I wouldn't even put that much thought into it.
By: Jimmy on November 6, 2017
The clerk's comments would not have deterred my enthusiasm for a new shirt (or other item). But I'm not fond of shopping and have reached a point where I don't buy much clothing.Your comment about sizzle makes a lot of sense. Hope Mrs. C realizes it is what she combines with the top, how she may "accessorize" it and how she rocks it that makes it stylish-not that others may have purchased something similar.
By: Tom Cochrun on November 6, 2017
It would convince me that i must have good taste!
By: messymimi on November 6, 2017
A comment like that would make me think I made a good choice. that's the level of my shopping expertise.
By: red on November 6, 2017
I think it's pretty much a woman's thing. It wouldn't bother me, because I'd figure at least I wouldn't stand out and be unfashionable.
By: Val on November 6, 2017
I can safely say that this wouldnât bother me at all. I had this happen to me and just replied that we all must have great taste and laughed. If I like it, I like it and donât care if everyone felt that way or no one felt that way but thatâs just me. Each person looks at something like this in different ways
By: Birgit on November 6, 2017
Women are probably (and generally) much more particular about clothes than men. For a guy, a suit is a suit. For me, it depends not on the item, but on the context. If I'm getting a nice dress for a party or wedding reception, I best be the only one wearing it. If not, I'm okay that it's popular. It affirms my taste, which is usually lousy, so this rarely happens.
By: Robyn Engel on November 6, 2017
You make a good point, but I would have had the same reaction as Mrs. C.
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 7, 2017
wouldn't bother me in the least.
By: Ellen Abbott on November 7, 2017
Funny you should ask. I was in the elevator at work this morning and one of my co-workers had on a shirt that I have a copy of. It didn't bother me, but I did like the jacket that she was wearing with it. I was thinking that I should pair it up with something similar. It may have been a bit tactless for the cashier to point out that a lot of people would be wearing a similar top, but being a cashier is a job, not a profession. Few people are going to take the time to learn the etiquette of it.
By: Lisa on November 7, 2017
With the crap I buy to wear no one is likely to make a comment like that, they are probably thinking 'thank god someone had finally bought that awful t shirt that's been hanging on the rails for years'.
By: LL Cool Joe on November 7, 2017
No, the clerk's comments wouldn't have bothered me. In fact, I would have been pleased because they would have validated my selection. The only time I would be miffed if I had commissioned something specifically for me (and paid extra for the privilege).
By: Al Penwasser on November 7, 2017
I think it would depend on the item - but like you I have no expectation that something I bought off the rack would be unique. It would kind of suck if I saw someone wearing it & they looked better than I did :)
By: The Bug on November 7, 2017
I like that steak/sizzle saying. Must remember that one. As for the question, it depends on the person's expectations of the purchase. Sometimes you want to be reassured that you've made a solid choice that a lot of people agree on. Other times you picked something out because it's in some way special (even if it's clearly one of many identical items) so the last thing you want to hear is how common it is. I think Mrs. C's purchase fell into the latter camp.
By: Botanist on November 7, 2017
This is a tough question to ask. I like popular food items, but I love the illusion that what I wear is unique. I think that your wife's feelings on the blouse is validated.
By: Michael Offutt on November 7, 2017
I wouldn't mind with paints, etc. - in fact, I'd prefer the stuff that everyone spends their money on. With clothes it wouldn't actually stop me, although it wouldn't endear the object to me at all. Maybe women are judged a bit more than men on their clothes, traditionally, and don't like to look too mass produced. It might be interesting to ask this to people under 30 though. They've grown up with brands and men are expected to look as good as women.
By: Jenny Woolf on November 7, 2017
I think Scott has it right - it might be a gender thing. This confirms my theory that I'm a male when it comes to clothing and fashion. To me, the cashier's comment would have validated my choice as a good one. When it comes to clothing, I like to fit it - not stand out. And I like consistency. If I'm a nurse in my next life, I'll happily wear scrubs every day. And if I come back as a techie, I'll happily wear jeans and a black t-shirt (like Steve Jobs and that Facebook guy).
By: Pixel Peeper on November 19, 2017

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