Next week, I’ll have the pleasure of working in Minneapolis, giving three presentations at Smitten Kitten: two public workshops (register for these workshops here) and a staff training on sex and aging. I love sharing my knowledge with all of you, especially when my events are sponsored by sex-positive, education-oriented stores like Smitten Kitten.
One of the staff members sent me this question, and I’d like to open up the topic to comments from you:
I am 23 years old, and sometimes the oldest/most experienced person working at the store on a given day, but I feel that my age and the age of some of my co-workers makes us seem like we can’t relate to older customers, and maybe even makes them feel more uncomfortable.
Usually if we can get past that and into a conversation people realize we all have a lot of knowledge to share, but is there a way to relate to older customer more quickly, or make them feel more at ease? I know that this is a question that there can’t be one right answer for, but any tips would be helpful!
What a good question! Let me turn it over to you, readers.
Let’s say you’re going into a sexuality shop for either the first time, or with a question that embarrasses you. You look around, and all the sales people are about the age of your grandchildren.
- How do/don’t you want to be approached?
- What is the right/wrong thing for a staffer to say to you?
- How can a younger person help you feel more at ease talking about sexual concerns?
- Do you start a conversation that’s not about the real reason you’re there before honing in on the real question?
- What makes you decide whether or not you can bring up your real concern?
- What questions do you wish you had the nerve to ask, but you don’t?
A man I know was 67 when he gathered the courage to walk into a sexuality shop for the first time. He wanted to get advice about buying his first butt plug. He squeaked out the question to the tattooed, nose-ring wearing boy who barely seemed of legal age. The young man led him to the butt plug area of the store and calmly showed him various styles, explaining quietly and clearly which ones were best for novices, and why.
It was clear that (a) he knew his stuff; (b) this was his day job and no question surprised him; and (c) the older man was his valued customer, not an object of ridicule or amazement. The older man felt freer to ask more questions, and he ended up making a purchase that he enjoyed for years.
Would a calm, thorough, matter-of-fact explanation have worked to put you at ease, too?
If you’re age 50+, what experiences — good or bad — have you had in sexuality shops? I’d love to hear from you.
(Please include your age answering any of these questions.)