September 23rd, 2012

What is it about stepping foot into the glossy, perfumed halls of the beauty department? Doesn’t matter which department store it is or which country it’s in, you are pretty much guaranteed to have the same experience. I like to think of this experience as what life would be like if I were famous. Walking into a public arena, the crowds immediately lock their eyes on you eager with anticipation, there are excited whispers and surreptitious finger pointing. You become stuck like a deer in the headlights with no place to run. They want something from you that you are not prepared to give, in the case of a celebrity it’s your autograph or photo. In the beauty department, it’s your credit card. After years of dodging perfume spritzing and being chased down by sales associates wielding loaded concealer brushes, I reached a breaking point. I had to develop a strategy to defend myself against the wily ways of the hard-sell, or risk ending up homeless with only a shopping cart filled with Estee Lauder ‘White Linen’ to my name.

Rule Number One: Eye Contact. Never, ever, under any circumstances, engage in it. Much like an undercover agent, keep those eyes trained to the floor like your livelihood depends on it. One false move and it’s game over. Before you know it, you will find yourself sitting in that chair sampling the latest serum, which promises to “magically reverse those crow’s feet and give you back the skin that you had when you were 21.”

Rule Number Two: Walk With A Purpose. A confident, fast-paced walk. Not a sprint. No one wants a hit and run in the beauty department. Walk like you are a very busy woman who simply does not have the time nor the forbearance for a ‘touch-up’ or a quick introduction to the latest cellulite cream. Shopping bags help with this. Hold them directly in front you of like a shield as you stride forth. They act as a temporary distraction to the sales associates, as they silently assess your shopping prowess and calculate just how many pots of La Mer cream they can sell you. Seize the moment of distraction and keep on walking until you reach your intended destination.

Rule Number Three: Have A List. A precise list of exactly the products you wish to purchase. Thanks to the internet, you can do most of your research online beforehand. This gives you the game advantage of learning about the product, checking out reviews and finding out the price before you step foot into enemy territory and become brainwashed by sales tactics. Understand that they have been trained in the powers of coercion. They know exactly what they are doing and what they need to say to extract that credit card out of your purse and into their sweet-smelling hands. Walk up to the counter and carefully state that, yes, you are familiar with the line and you know exactly what you would like to purchase today. Start rattling off the names before they have a chance to derail you. Much like a car salesman, once they understand that you are a serious buyer they change tactics and the hard-sell evaporates into the highly perfumed air. Stay focused until you have what you want, and yes, you would like some samples. After all that effort, a girl needs a little something for nothing.

Rule Number Four: Emphasize Time Restraints. When paying for your items, mention that you just rushed in to pick these up and simply have to get back to work/your kids (in case of emergency, slip in that you must head back to meet your probation officer). That will narrow down the window of opportunity for trying to sign you up with a store card or adding your name to the email list so that you can be the first to hear about future discounts and special events (whispered evocatively). As soon as you have signed the credit card slip grab the bag and get the hell out of there. There is nothing that excites a beauty sales associate more than someone who has just made a purchase; it is like blood in the water to sharks. A feeding frenzy will ensue. Put a smile on your face, keep your eyes on the floor and keep on walking back out that door.

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