Rule #1: Pleasing your customer is most important. That is the phrase repeated to sales associates, and it was the thing I was reminded of when I worked at a lingerie shop. It was also one of the things I kept thinking when I read about Petticoat Fair an “inclusive” bra shop that allegedly refused to fit trans woman, Kylie Jack.
During my time as a lingerie sales girl, sentiments about pleasing customers and making them happy were repeated, to remind us of our goal. And it was always “customer,” it was never “woman,” even if that’s who the majority of customers were. I know how difficult finding the right fitting bra can be, so helping a customer find one that doesn’t dig into their ribs, or that supports their larger boobs was always greatly appreciated.
I fit customers of all shapes and sizes, ages, genders, those who were pregnant, nursing, post-mastectomy, post-breast augmentation–you name it, I did it. I would have fit someone with three boobs if they came in. It might have been hard to find them a bra, but I would have done my best to work something out. And not once, did I think to ask anyone for ID to “prove” anything. If they wanted my help, why would I need to go through a check list to see if they qualified to get it?
There was never a policy on how to treat one type of customer compared to another. In the couple years that I worked there, I can only remember my manager referring to our non-majority customers once. It was during a staff meeting, and we were discussing the fitting rooms. The change room rules were:
1) To not allow more than six items in at a time.
2) To make sure someone is always in the fitting rooms to serve customers.
3) To not allow two people in together, unless one person require assistance.
After we discussed how just because we sold lingerie, didn’t mean we wanted hanky panky in the change room, my manager added that we should never forbid a customer in the change room. And that didn’t mean we didn’t “err on the side of caution.” Regardless of the person’s gender, clothed fittings were conducted in front of a communal mirror, or in a fitting room off to the side, with the door half-closed, if the custoer/sales associate didn’t feel comfortable to do it out in the open. And no, I never experienced any “creepy customers.” The bottom line was serving trans/male/woman/whatever customers was never a big deal, because no one made it one.
Maybe that is the kind of attitude Kirk Andrews, the owner of the ironically named Petticoat Fair should adopt. Either that, or he should have looked up “fair” in the dictionary, before he chose that as part of the name to his not-so-fair-sounding lingerie shop.
I could easily go into a tirade about unfair polices but instead, may I loosely quote another retail adage to Mr. Andrews that I often heard at the bra shop: If you have a good customer service experience, you tell three people. If you have a bad experience, you tell eight people. If the store is discriminatory you post it all over social media, and the store gets a ton of bad press, that could force it to close down.” Just something to think about for the future.