on getting “womaned”

Dear Cigar Store employee,

I get it it. You work in a specialty retail store. I go to those sometimes. While I wouldn’t say that you sell anything cheap, you’ve got a range of products that appeal from the casual devotee to the types of people that are referred to in movies about Las Vegas as large marine mammals.

I get that I don’t fit the demographic of those latter, most profitable customers. Hell, I’m probably too ignorant of what goes into the products that you sell to even fit into the former category. But here’s the thing, I had something to celebrate this week. And I wanted a damn cigar.

I could have grabbed something from the “humidor” box at any of a dozen “TOBACCO” stores that I drive my everyday, but as someone who tries to have an appreciation for those things in life that can be appreciated, I wanted better. And I was willing to pay for quality, and for good service and the benefit of your years of experience to help me find the one thing that was right for me.

Obviously, I wasn’t there to spend hundreds of dollars with you. But, I didn’t want to waste your time. I walked in your (smelly) door, intending to make a purchase. I hadn’t done too much research, but I’d put some thought into what I like (I’m a chocolate, malty beer, and fatty steak kind of girl), and how I thought the cigar that I might end up liking would pair with such things. And you’d know that, if you had been willing to spend more than 30 seconds making the sale yesterday.

You know, maybe that $9 number that you pulled off the top shelf and handed to me without asking anything about my tastes will, in fact, be the ultimate cigar experience for me (I’ll admit it, it smells yummy). But would it have hurt you to explain why you thought I would like it? Or tell me something about the product? Or how it compares to others that you have in stock — I was willing to spend more, after all?

So, the good news is, you made your (under $10) sale. I think you’ve guessed the bad news by now. As a girl with tastes that admittedly tend to run more “masculine”, I’m pretty used to dealing with employees who might have a bias against me before I open my mouth. But the trick with all those “boy” stores that I love and keep going back to? Their employees don’t treat me like I don’t belong there. They offer help if it looks like I need it, they listen when I have questions or ideas that I want to run by them, and they realize that I’m a good customer who wants to learn from them, even as she buys from them.  Sure, they might treat women like idiots sometimes…but only the ones who deserve it. The upshot is that those little $10 purchases that I might have started out with? Have lead to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in purchases over the years, plus positive recommendations to my friends.

CSE, this could have been a wonderful friendship, you could have been a contender. Seriously, I’m sure that there will be a time in my life when I do need/want to drop some serious money on high-end tobacco products. But it won’t be with you guys.

p.s. on second thought… maybe it’s because I’m blackCanadian?