Walmart and the Hard Sell

My partner in crime, Tammy, and I went to Walmart Saturday afternoon.  We virtually ignored the warnings to steer clear of this establishment on the weekends, but we were feeling pretty refreshed.  You see we had spent the afternoon getting pampered.  We had mani/pedis and our hair done – all for about $25 US.  We were feeling very relaxed and had time to stop by Starbucks for a small treat.  We were generally enjoying the day.  Until Walmart.

The store was very crowded and noisy.  However, it wasn’t the amount of people that made this particular trip overwhelming.  It was the hard sell. Let me explain.

We get into Walmart delivered quite uneventfully by a Shekou taxi.  There are gobs of people. We stumble along trying to find the electronics department, but happen onto bedding – we are both looking for new sheets.  This is where it begins.

As we were browsing the styles and trying to find fitted sheets (never found them) and this saleswoman begins talking to us, loudly, in Chinese trying to sell us a particular brand of sheets.  Both Tammy and I kind of look at each other – we just tell her no, thank you.  So she just starts following us, pointing out all of the bedding things she thinks we need.  She even goes as far as to put items directly in our carts.  I am not joking.  This extremely pushy approach is not endearing her to either Tammy or me.  I mean we are just trying to find some labels in English.  So, we after we escape the dreaded bedding department, we head over to the small electronics where six sales people try to sell us an iron and a water warmer.  Six.  It’s the same brash approach.

At this point, I need to make one clarification.  Everyone told me that people here speak English. They don’t.  They speak in phrases like, “It’s my pleasure.” or “You like?” – makes it interesting when you are trying to purchase a rice steamer.  Still haven’t found one.

I am getting the idea that this aggressive sales tactic is probably a standard in Shenzhen.  It’s very loud, pushy, and unrelenting.  The trick I am quickly learning is just to be very firm with the ‘no’.  Once you are firm with that, they do kind of leave you alone.

After we purchase the electronic items at the electronics cashier, we go downstairs where we need to purchase our other items, we get into our third line for the Frappia.  A Frappia is not a new coffee drink.  It is basically an official Chinese receipt that some ex-pats living in China need to justify a Foreign Allowance.  I don’t really understand it –I just know I need one.

So, as we are patiently waiting for our turn with a nice couple behind us, this really pushy older Chinese woman gets right behind us.  There is plenty of space, but she is literally elbow–to-elbow with me.  Just as I finish getting my official receipt, she jams hers onto the table – well, Tammy is next in line, so I literally push her arm away and say, “Excuse me, she’s next.”  It’s like that.  Tammy and I looked at each other and we were like, almost laughing because we were both so over the Walmart on a Saturday. So after we get our Frappias, we go grab something to eat. This other woman proceeds to just stare at us for our entire meal.  Gawk.  It was surreal.  We get into our taxi and just start laughing at really dumb stuff.  The taxi driver must have thought we were insane (tables turned!) because we were just that silly and exhausted from that trip.  Next time, we are going on a Tuesday.

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