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May They Help You?

Yes! Even more than you’d think. Lauren DeCarlo meets four of the city’s sales stars.

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"Will you be putting it on your Saks account?" Douglas Wood moves in on a sale in the "Advanced Europeans" department.  

Douglas Wood
Sales Associate, Saks Fifth Avenue

What’s your domain?
I pretty much know the whole third floor, but my side of the floor is considered advanced designer collections. We have Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, and a lot of Japanese designers like Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake. I’m in charge of Jean Paul Gaultier. Many salespeople don’t listen, so they wind up acting like car salesmen, like, “Put this on” and “Put that on.” There’s no feeling! I’ve been in a lot of stores where I haven’t been helped properly and I get really mad because I have a lot of money to spend. I give what I expect to be given.

What do you love to sell?
Personally, I love the edgier designers, but I can pretty much sell anything. I love to sell Gaultier. That’s my whole energy. I really like Balenciaga. There’s so much detail. And I love this new label, Kaufman Franco. They’re doing really nice suits with really elaborate sequined linings. It’s very nice stuff.

What do you love to wear?
I go as far as possible not to look conservative. I think men’s clothes are so limited. Today, I’m wearing brown Hugo Boss boots, black Dolce & Gabbana pants—with Gucci belt, of course—and a crisp, white Dirk Schönberger shirt. Sometimes when I want to be really sharp but conservative, I wear Gucci. This fall, I’m interested in kilts and skirts. I’ll wear them with a shirt and tie or a turtleneck or even a nice blazer.

What’s your pickup line?
I try to find something I like about their outfit, like the way they put it together. Or their shoes or hair. Then I bring it to the clothing or what the current trend is in fashion. I’ll say, “Oh is that Gucci?” Have you seen the new Gucci collection?’ I’m good at spotting designers.

Merchandise moved?
It’s not unusual for a customer to spend a minimum of $8,000 per transaction. You have to remember that everything on the floor is designer, so it’s pricey. I see about fifteen clients a day, maybe ten on a slow day.

How do you close a deal?
She’ll be really excited. You can just feel it. Then I say, “Will it be on your Saks account?” And that helps, because if they open a new Saks charge account they’ll get an extra 10 percent off. If they’re on the fence about an outfit, I’ll say, “Do you have a Saks charge?” Who’s your clientele? Lots of tourists. One client, an executive president of a company, wears Gaultier to work. She’s fabulous. I’ll call her, and she’ll come running in after work screaming, “I got your message!” She just loves my eye. I have a lot of customers I’ve helped for years that I’ve never even seen or met. One woman calls me from California. All I knew was her chest size, that she’s kind of curvy, and that she has big hips. I sent her everything, and it all fit perfectly.

Oddest request from a client ever?
I’m always shocked when women are so comfortable with me that they ask for help in the fitting room when they’re naked. A lot of times, I’m like, Oh, my God, she’s completely naked! But I’m getting used to it. There’s one woman who will walk right out of the fitting room completely naked. Everyone at Saks knows her. She’s older, but she’s had some work done.

Thing you would never tell a client?
I would never tell a woman she’s fat! I would try to tell her that maybe she’s too big for a certain outfit, but I would phrase it differently, in a way that’s not hurtful.

Is it ever okay to lie?
I’m not really a good liar, but I will give them my opinion. I always tell them, “Well, this is how I feel. If you still want to purchase it, that’s your choice, but honestly, I think you should go in this direction.” I like to give them other options.


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