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Now that sample sale season has wrapped up, it's time for a post-mortem. We asked a sale bouncer to tell us all about the business from his perspective. He's speaking anonymously so that he doesn't lose his job, but here's what you need to know: He works for a security firm and he's been bouncing at the same bi-annual sale for the last three or four years. The job entails arriving at 6am, setting up, and maintaining order. Bouncers don't get any special discounts, but it sounds like they do wind up with a lot of free coffee.
On bad behavior at sample sales: I try to tell people who have kids or who are pregnant: Shop online. It gets crazy. We had a lady who came in with her husband in a wheelchair. I told her to be careful, and she cursed me out, screamed at me, said I said she couldn't come in. Customers always have the assumption that you're against them.
We get girls who go into the sales without underwear. One girl was trying things on and didn't have panties on. Another girl started screaming at her, and we had to escort them both out.
We have girls who go in as friends, and when they come out, they're not friends anymore.
On buying clothes: I'm definitely interested in fashion, but I don't do much shopping because I'm so busy.
On befriending customers: There are ladies who come by a week in advance. They're like, "I see you out there, so I know the sale is coming." I've made friends with customers who will text me in advance. They'll start asking me if I want Starbucks.
On gifts: I made friends with a girl who works in the Diamond District. I helped her out, and she was so happy she went back to the shop and she got me a ring with diamonds in it. I got a pair of earrings from another customer. She worked for a jewelry shop. I like when people are just genuinely nice and not trying to bribe me. You don't have to bribe me; just be nice.
On name-calling: It's hard to manage people, but I can handle it because I have a big personality. I've been called names by older ladies, and I'm like, "How old are you, calling me these names?" I've been called "fat boy" and other things.
On his best advice to shoppers: Have patience. Come with a positive attitude, and you'll get in and out when we can get you in and out. The ruder you are, the more you're going to wait in line.
There are times when we can send another five people in, but if those people are rude and mean to us, we'll keep them outside for another half an hour. My whole thing is just to be nice. The wrong thing to do is go there with attitude.
On job satisfaction: It's fun. Half the customers who come there are frigging awesome. We'll have conversations while they wait. I've only had to hold people back like five times. I figure, if they start getting really nasty, I'll go inside.
· Four Tricks for Getting the Best Deals at Sample Sales [Racked NY]