Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions.

by : 
Kim Perkins
October 1, 2012

Question: I have run a successful retail store for more than 10 years. I used to love helping customers, listening to their stories and assisting them in finding just the right gift. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself getting impatient and often bored when on the sales floor. People seem needy and, after a few minutes, I just want to retreat. Have you ever felt this way? What can I do to correct it?

Answer: It sounds like a nice, relaxing vacation may be in order for you. Take some time for yourself so you can rule out overwork as a cause for your feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to connect and listen to others when you have so much to accomplish elsewhere. If a vacation doesn’t help, it may be time to change your job description or even explore a new line of work.

The truth is, retail is all about people, day in and day out. Salespeople are here to serve customer needs. Enjoying being with people, communicating with them, giving value for money, and being present to their needs are all essential. You have to like dealing with customers to ensure the best quality service possible. All salespeople—and store owners, too—need to be able to interact with others effectively, cope in a crisis, and show good communication skills. Customers can tell whether you genuinely enjoy your job or are just going through the motions. Hopefully, a little time off will bring things back into perspective for you.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to