952 forum posts
First, I should clarify I'm a 90 minute drive to my nearest outdoor gear store (won't name the name, but you know this chain). So making a trip to look at gear is a treat for me. But this is the second trip I've had like this, and I don't know that I'll go back.
First, I sauntered into the backpacks. I told the sales associate I was in the market for a 65-ish liter pack coming in under 2lbs. He promptly shows me a 3lb 2oz pack, and tells me, "This is what you're wanting." When I restate I'm looking for something under 2lbs, he explains to me that those "Ultralight packs" don't hold up under long-term use, that'll I'll be unhappy with it, and that what I really want is a heavier duty pack like the one he is showing me. "Okay, thanks." and I move on to the real reason for my trip.
In the shoe department, I explain to another sales associate I have been using a lightweight hiker for backpacking for 7+years, but I've noticed diminishing quality in my Merrell's. "Can you recommend, a non-waterproof light hiker, similar to the Merrell, but with better quality?" Instead, I get an explanation about how I can't backpack without a full, waterproof boot, with a steel shank." When I restate that I've done hundreds of miles in the cheapest pair of shoes they have on the wall (the Merrell), he tells me "He won't say what he thinks of that." Fortunately, another sales associate came up and recommended I try the Pantagonia line of shoes. I ended up buying a pair I liked.
And finally...based on recommendations in the sock thread in TS forums, I decided to pick up a pair of lightweight Injinji toe socks to try to use as a sock liner. They didn't have my size. So I asked another sales person if they had size medium in the back. Instead, I get ANOTHER explanation about how toe socks simply won't work as a liner. He takes me around the corner to the traditional row of liners and tells me this is what I need. When I insist others have recommended this option, he reluctantly looks in the back, and then comes out to tell me they don't have any mediums in stock.
So I left the store with one thought...when I worked at a hardware store 20 years ago, I sold items I knew nothing about. If a customer asked me about plumbing, all I could tell them was what I had read on the package. Today (and last time I was there) was the same deal--sales associates who have been told certain things, with little, if any, real-world experience.