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Carnies at the Mall: An Open Letter to Aggressive Mall Kiosk Operators

*Speaking as calmly as possible*

Dearest readers, it’s time for “WTF Wednesday.” (Or, as my father would say, “What INTO The Hell?”)

Today, I will be openly addressing the operators of mall kiosks. I force myself to do this with love, because what I really want to do sometimes is knock them over the head with whatever product they are trying to sell me. (I will follow this letter with one to the mall management, because it is they that force us to have to deal with the mall kiosk operators.)

Dear Aggressive Mall Kiosk Operator,

My name is Fashion Paramedic. I write to you because you, and your stall mates that are large in number and spaced every 10 feet at my mall, have single-handedly stripped me of enjoying my shopping experience.

No longer can I just “go shopping.” The term “going shopping” used to put a smile on my face. Now, I have to make sure my cell phone battery is charged before I leave my house so that I can pretend to be on the phone when I pass you by. I don’t like to have to do that. I think it’s fake. But it’s a tactic that I’ve learned over the years that has proven beneficial: pretend to be on the phone, and they leave you alone.

I shouldn’t have to pretend that I’m Barry Sanders and do my famous “shake and bake camouflage” move either, which involves hurrying to the outside of a group or family so that you see them and not me, ultimately resulting in them being hassled and me doing a touchdown dance because I got by your stall unscathed.

Let me also say that you are truly shameless people. Only the most offensive of all human beings would shout “What type of cell phone plan do you have?!” to a mother who is trying to exit the mall as quickly as she can because her infant son is crying at the top of his lungs.
When I walk by Mrs. Fields, their employees don’t call out at me. The folks at Hallmark don’t chase after me with greeting cards and offer me special ornaments of the day for watching a 20 minute presentation. And yes, Victoria’s Secret does have someone at their entrance with a tray of lotions and perfumes to try, but they certainly don’t go out of their way to force it upon me as I walk in.

If I wanted a massage, I would stop at your space and ask for one. If I felt my skin needed clearing up, I would come talk to you on my own. If I wanted to try your lotion, I’d put out my hand, instead of pulling it away from you before you could grab it. And do you honestly think that following me after I’ve already turned you down once will change my mind about what you’re selling? I don’t think so. You have spoiled the mall experience, and forever branded even the more kind and less rude variety of kiosk operators who are just trying to do their job as “vermin.”

There’s a reason why I stopped going to the carnival side of the fair. I never liked the gauntlet of carnies whose job it was to hassle every person walking by to drum up business at their game. To be quite honest, the only difference between them and you is that you probably took a shower this morning and most likely have all of your teeth.

Leave me alone. I just want to go shopping.

Fashion Paramedic

cc: ACME Mall Management

Now, for the letter to the management:

Dear ACME Mall Management,

I write to you today to let you know that I will be posting a story to my blog about the kiosk operators at your mall.

Many are rude, disrespectful, and a few are downright aggressive. I don’t like having to go out of my way to avoid them, but I do.

I used to come in at the north entrance, and use the escalators to go to the lower level of the mall. Now, I come in from the west, enter through a chain store, and use the elevator at the back of their store to go between each level of the mall.

I now have to pretend to be on the phone when I enter your mall’s main area, where most of the kiosks are located. If I also do not keep my head down while I do this, some of your more aggressive vendors will call out at me. However, while using this “tactic” to avoid being hassled, I sometimes lose sight of where I am, and have to back track to the store I had intended to visit.

Over the past three years, I’ve seen the kiosks in your mall grown in numbers. No doubt, they contribute to your bottom line. I’ve read that mall operators like the “festival atmosphere” that kiosks bring to the mall, but what you’re really creating is a carnival atmosphere, complete with carnies who shout out at passers by to get them to come to their booth.

I’ve been able to avoid carnies by not going to the carnival side of a fair. But when I am at the mall, I’m a captive audience. I have to use the main area to get from one store to another, turning what used to be a casual stroll into a trap.

I’m sure that you’ve never experienced this yourself. Of course you wouldn’t—you probably wear a suit and a nametag that screams “I’m with mall management,” and the vendors wouldn’t ever dream of hawking at you. But I dare you to put on some street clothes, pull a hat low over your brow, and take a walk through the common area. You’ll experience what it’s really like to try to go shopping at your own mall.

Those of us who are fed up to the core and will no longer use your mall are small in number. We will undoubtedly make little to no impact on your holiday revenue. But, the more kiosks you bring in, and the more aggressive the operators get, the more likely you will lose more customers. And, with the holidays fast approaching, you should also probably take into consideration this formula:

Internet + free holiday shipping + no aggressive kiosk operators = happy customers

Start policing your kiosk operators before they drive the rest of your business to Amazon.com (and before someone gets hurt). Those are both valid threats. I haven’t hurt anyone, but I’ve definitely made the decision to not shop at your mall anymore. This is sad, considering there are other vendors at your mall that are pleasant and helpful and just trying to do their job. Those are the ones that have to pay the price for my decision to go elsewhere.

Fashion Paramedic


7 Responses

  1. *cheers wildly*
    You go, girl. There is just no excuse for being accosted and subjected to that sort of treatment.

  2. This is so sad, but I too pretend to be on my cell phone as I am walking through the mall. Or, I just walk really really fast and say sorry as I am walking by the way I would do to a bum on the streets asking me for change……

  3. Thanks for the advice! I will now pretend to use my cellphone at the mall! I only wish I had thought of it years ago. I normally just walk really fast on the outer edges trying desperately to not make any eye contact, sometimes this works, but not as often as I’d like. If they speak to me I pretend I didn’t hear them and walk faster.

  4. LOL, I had to google up on these people to see if others where as highly irriated with these kiosks as I am. I got caught offguard a year ago by these aggressive animals before I knew what they were all about. Trying to politely turn down their sale while they force salty goo on my hands. Only to be met with a quite rude and nasty attitude when I’d give the polite “Not today, I’ll think about it” answer. Now, I’ve thrown the politness out the window and just try to have a little fun, often walking slowly as possible past them without making eye contact and completely ignoring them no matter how often they yell “Hello sir? excuse me sir, SIR?!?!” It’s funny how long they will try to get your attention and even try again when you walk past a second time!

  5. i remember being with my mom one day, and this one guy selling lotion pulled us over to try the sea salt hand rub. half an hour later my mom was walking away from the booth toting $100 worth of new facial products with a pained expression on her face. looking back, i wish we just walked by like you do, haha.

  6. AMEN sister! Some lotion peddler actually grabbed my hand and started putting lotion on me. Then he tried to buff my short little nails with a little cube buffer! I pulled my hand away and ran. What ever happened to personal space? LOL

  7. Hi, I liked your article. I found it by googling “aggressive mall vendors” because I feel the same way and I wrote an article about that on my blog (it’s here: http://megavegalicious.com/2008/02/14/mall-kiosk-phobia/) Actually,I’ll add a link to your article now that I found it, you kinda inspire people to do something about it (write a letter for example), and I do too (protest instead of just avoid them all the time).
    I was also reading other articles from you and I think you have a new fan now. I’ll check back to read your articles.
    Thanks, from Vegas,

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