I just started working at a boutique on the weekends, and I’m having a blast. This weekend was particularly entertaining, because we had a steady stream of men wander into the shop looking to buy gifts for their wives and girlfriends. It didn’t take long before I noticed that the vast majority of these last-minute male shoppers fit into one of 10 categories. If you brave the stores today, you’ll easily be able to spot them, and if you’ve ever worked retail during the holidays, you already know the guys I’m talking about. They are as follows:
1. The guy who is FREAKING OUT. Not sure if it’s the pressure of choosing the perfect gift or the stress of just setting foot in a super feminine store, but many men who wander into the boutique have worked themselves into such a nervous frenzy that I’m genuinely concerned about them having a heart attack. Calm down fellas, she can always exchange it for store credit.
2. The guy on a mission. This guy marches into the store, quickly scans the necklace rack, grabs one, slams it on the counter, pays, asks for a gift box, and boom — he’s out of there. His entire shopping experience takes two minutes, tops. I’m not sure whether to admire his unflinching confidence or shudder at his cavalier gift-buying attitude. Either way, I guess, I must applaud his efficiency.
3. The guy with shockingly good instincts. Last week a guy came in with the same deer-in-the-headlights look as a lot of men who come in, but as he started browsing the racks, I realized there was one major difference: he had truly exquisite taste. He’d walk over to a rack of dresses and pick up the most beautiful velvet party dress, or a sequin mini dress. His choices were totally on trend and he was drawn to all of the best items in the store, but he kept saying, “I just don’t know anything about fashion.” Dude, you could be styling shoots for Vogue.
4. The guy who is just totally clueless. This guy communicates not in words and full sentences but in grunts and shrugs. He doesn’t know what kind of jewelry his girlfriend likes, he doesn’t know if she wears scarves, he doesn’t know what his budget is or what day it is or how many fingers I’m holding up. I worry about this guy.
5. The guy who is desperate for help. Some men who come in are basically down on their hands and knees begging for guidance before I can even say, “Hi, welcome to the store.” They know they’re way out of their comfort zone and put complete and total trust in the whoever happens to be working.
6. The guy who will not accept any help at any cost. This guy wanders the store aimlessly, picking up jewelry, setting it down, looking generally confused and in dire need of assistance. But every time I gently ask if I can help with anything, he waves me off or insists he’s just fine, thank you.
7. The guy who is clinging desperately to one detail. ”She likes blue!” “She likes blue!” “She likes blue!”
8. The guy who is shopping for himself. This can take many forms — picking the skimpiest dress in the store, choosing a bracelet in his favorite color, or even a unisex scarf he can wear too. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s always very transparent when a guy is shopping with himself in mind. It cracks me up.
9. The guy who is very angry about this whole “having to buy a gift” thing. A Grinch-y guy is identifiable within moments of walking into the store. He’s sighing dramatically, cursing his wife for being so hard to buy for, making mean jokes about the holiday candles, loudly clanking clothes hangers around, and muttering about how he would rather be at the sports bar across the street watching the game. Merry Christmas to you too, sir.
10. The guy who couldn’t pick his girlfriend out of a police lineup. You would be shocked at the number of men who, when asked to describe their girlfriend and her specific tastes, simply hold out their hand and say, “She’s about this tall. Brown hair.” And…. that’s it. As much as I try to pry a few more details out of them, apparently the only thing they remember is her hair color and a general height estimate, as if they’re buying a gift not for their serious girlfriend but for a woman who mugged them and then ran off. Well, I guess that would be a good “how we met” story.
[Photo of man shopping via Shutterstock]