October 19, 2011

Make that money honey.

There are so many business opportunities in this country it is unbelievable. I know I come from a country that is packed full with work-o-holics & over achievers, but there has to be a happy medium on how to run a business effectively & make money. I have come to appreciate that the Italians take their Sundays off for relaxation, I think it is smart to have a a day to re-charge, re-focus and spend quality time with your loved ones. Having said that, here are a few things I have taken note of recently that I still cannot get my head around. For those of you that have lived here longer, or have some insight, please help me understand why retail businesses do this.

1. I went to buy a gift for a friend at the Uffizi Gallery. We all know it is one of the most famous museums in the world, so I thought walking into the gift shop would be easy. Wrong. I saw the line to enter the museum, so I politely asked the gentleman who was "guarding" the door if there was a separate entrance for "solo il negozio" (only the store). He informs me that I must obtain a ticket to the museum to be able to enter the gift shop. Leaving frustrated, the Uffizi Gallery did not earn 50 euro from me that day. Business 101 : have the gift shop available to any persons, and stay open longer than the museum is open.

I told my boyfriend this story and he told me that I have to learn how to "negotiate" better in Italian, that everything is possible here if you know how to talk your way into things.

2. Siesta. Hats off to the Italians & Spanish  for upholding the idea for siesta. I do think the root of it is lovely, taking a solid break from work to go home to eat or have a nice lunch with your friends. Again, you get a nice re-charge before going back to work. However, businesses that have operating hours of : 10am-12:30 / 3:30-7pm is so frustrating for me. I try to work out the logic in my head, that many retail shops might not have the payroll budget to warrant working from 10am-9pm with a one hour break. I understand that, but to only be open for 6 hours a day, during an economic crisis is mind blowing. I cannot imagine how business outside of tourist areas are staying afloat during all of this.

3. Chiuso Sabato alle 12:30. These same businesses I am mentioning above also have the tendency to only be open on Saturdays from 10am-12:30pm. The rest of the population that do not work in customer service driven industries are out taking walks with their families, shopping, eating, drinking. For me, I see this and hear "Ca-ching" $$$.

4. Clothes shopping. You enter a boutique store and the "clothes watcher" stares you down and gets irritated when you touch the clothes, heaven forbid you look a a price tag on the clothes on a mannequin. This doesn't make you feel comfortable spending your money there, so on you go! to H&M and Zara where at least you can touch and check the pricing. Now, the way to pay at these stores is entertaining at best. This morning I was at H&M and there were only 2 lines open. I counted 42 people in line, and it took me 30 minutes to pay. 5 customers decided to give up and left the store.

I would be curious to know if Italians get as frustrated as I do, or if its a matter of acceptance of their culture, regardless of the almighty dollar (or Euro in this instance). Why are people not eager to earn more money here? Why can't retail employees be nice & polite in their encounters with their consumers?


Natalie said...

Awww! I'm sorry about your frustration, it happens to the best of us.

I find the title of your blog post funny, because at this point, when anyone in our expat group of friends complains about something not being convenient/functional in anyway, the standard response is:

"That's just how it is. If it was any other way, someone would accidentally make money by offering a service".

Texana said...

Agh! I know how you feel. Same thing happens here in Spain. What drives me insane is the lack of customer service and being polite, either at shops or restaurants. By the way, I enjoy your blog very much and feel very much identified with a lot of what you write!

Murissa Maurice said...

This frustration happens in Canada too. You would never know who was the sales associate lately in the local mall as the girls who work at the stores arrange times where there friends come in to visit.
They ignore the customers and even get annoyed when I wanted to try on a pair of shoes. I left I was so annoyed.
I think the problem lies with the sales associates. Most of them do not amount to anything within that business and it is simply a very small and temporary stepping stone.

Interesting post!

The Wanderfull Traveler

check out my list of top 5 blogs from yesterday. You are in it!

NYC, Style and a little Cannoli said...

found you from pop culture divas..lovely blog about a great country since I am 100% italian! Have never visited but would love to one day...looking forward to your posts!

Maggie said...

There has to be a way to combine the laid-back approach of Italy and the never-relax approach of the US. It is interesting how we find a way to adjust our schedules accordingly. As we have said before: "Only in Italy!"

Sara Amrhein said...

Christy it has been 10 years that I have lived in this country and I still CANNOT understand this! I know exactly what you mean, it just seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot and then they complain and wonder why they are forced to close their store after only a few months in business. When I finally open my store one day no siesta for me! And not only that but, imagine how much more productive we could be as a population! If stores were opened during lunch we could actually get our errands done and then have time later to be more productive! Roba di pazza! ti lo dico ah! But what's that they say? You can take the girl out of America.....
Oh and for the Uffizi.....I totally agree with you, they could make so much more money if they let the public enter, but I think Antonio is right about the negotiation part:)

Chiara said...

having shops closed by lunch time is incredibly annoying, but (maybe economic crisis?) since last year more and more shops started to reduce the lunch break and just stay closed from 2:00-15/15:30 p.m. (at least in Bologna where I live). Maybe things start to change, finally? I really hope so.

The same goes for shop assistants behavior and the way sometimes they look at you as some kind of annoyance.
The more expensive your clothes look, the more they will treat you well, because you seem to be more likely to buy something. Otherwise you are not really worth the effort. It's common in boutiques where items cost 100euro or more.
It is just stupid and unproductive.

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