Market research expert Paco Underhill says women want "cleanliness," "control," and "considerateness" from their shopping experience. We have a few other ideas.
In a review on Slate, Seth Stevenson says Underhill's What Women Want contains "lots of gender-polarizing assumptions that we're asked to accept on blind faith." Underhill writes that men like grills and women like mirrors; women want "soft, curvy furniture," men want McMansions. Whereas we are but a few women, and cannot speak for all our kind, we'd like to offer a few things we want when we go shopping. And no, none of them have to do with curves.
A friend of mine recently complained that a fitting room's yellowish lights made her look like Homer Simpson, and I've frequently encountered flourescents better suited to an airport bathroom. You'd think it would be basic common sense to keep harsh lighting out of the dressing room, but for many stores, it apparently isn't. On the flip side, we don't want it to be so dark we can't see anything. Oh, and it's really nice to have a full-length mirror in the dressing room. A few smaller stores I've been to don't have this, and while I know it's a space issue, I'm way more likely to try on stuff if I can look at it in private.
We understand stores' need to protect their stock, but if you follow us around like we're shoplifters, we're likely to take our business elsewhere. And if you're trying to sell us cars or electronics, don't treat us like we're idiots who know nothing about what we're buying. Nobody likes this. Relatedly, if we happen to be shopping for a "manly" thing (like a grill!) with a man, don't direct all your advice to said man as though we don't exist. For all you know, we might be the ones doing the grilling.
Again, we get that shoplifting is a problem. But more than one of us has quit patronizing a drugstore because they kept the most embarrassing-to-ask-for items — Monistat and pregnancy tests, for instance — under lock and key. And memo to a certain store I used to patronize: keeping condoms locked up behind the counter in a college town is a public health hazard.
A store shouldn't feel like a morgue, but in Hortense's words, "If I can hear or smell the store before I even open the door, I tend to skip it." Quiet music is fine, thumping club beats are just distracting and annoying. Ditto to the coffee shop I frequent that sometimes blasts conservative talk radio. Given the neighborhood, I'm pretty sure this is a joke, but I'm not laughing.
Don't bother us
A little help is sometimes appreciated — Sadie, for instance, enjoys guidance buying wine. But don't pester us once we've said we're fine on our own. Don't offer unsolicited advice (my favorite so far: "you're too short to wear that"). Don't give us the hard sell (even if it works, we will just regret our purchases later and not come back). And please don't comment too much on what we buy — especially at the drugstore. As Dodai pointed out, "That's where all your personal shit is on display," and we'd like to pretend nobody's looking.