It's an interesting paradox, really. Those of us that are disabled sometimes need a hand but don't want others hovering over us acting as if we're made of glass. Those around us often want to help but are unsure how to proceed without running the risk of offending or being inappropriate. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, we are an intentionally invisible inconvenience to some store clerks who go out of their way to avoid us.
I've never suffered either extreme at the particular Stein Mart I frequent in West Nashville. Help is always offered if I need it but never pressed upon me if I don't. Let's face it, the downside of great help can be the overeager, pushy sell. Nobody wants to shop in that kind of environment. In my opinion it repels customers. Instead I get to decide the level of assistance I want, from help carrying garments into the disabled fitting room to having the ones I decide to buy waiting for me at the register - while I try on more! If I leave empty-handed, which happens more often than not, I'm not made to feel any less important on my next visit.
I've gotten to know a lot of the salesladies by name. I wish I knew the names of all of the truly outstanding ones, but the two I've dealt with longest that have always gotten my back are My Trinh Dao and Andrea Crenshaw. Personalitywise they are diametric opposites. My Trinh is a soft-spoken, sweet-natured immigrant from Vietnam who wears her goodness on her sleeve. She never stops moving and is my go-to help on the sales floor and in the fitting room. Andrea is a curvy, ebony-skinned beauty who takes care of me at the register. In fact, if I don't checkout with her I get an earful. "You think you're gonna come in here and not see me?" She'll joke, "I see how you are."
I appreciate the familiarity with which both of these women treat me and I also see how very badly some of the customers treat them, especially My Trinh who is too polite to return fire. I've actually said something more than once if the insults are within my earshot. These exchanges may have cost the store a customer or two - I hope manager April Creech will forgive me if they have. I'm not likely to tolerate discrimination against myself so I'm certainly not going to suffer it directed towards someone else.
Stein Mart is smart enough to hire a very diverse group of women like My Trinh, Andrea, Sahar (whose name I'm probably butchering; sorry) and all the others whose names I don't know, and hold them to a high standard of customer service. In fact, I've never had bad service at any Stein Mart so I highly recommend you visit the company website to find a store near you. Not sure I want you snatching up the great clothes at mine, though.
Next week it's all about the big sales - and Stein Mart has a ton of them!