About skilful sellers
According to some, selling is an art, according to others, it is a science. One thing is certain that this profession is not for everyone. Besides product knowledge, sales science is still an important part of salesperson training, as understanding the psychology of shopping is at least as important as being able to professionally serve customers, who enter a store. What was the ideal seller like in the 1930s? Above all, who is honest, who values work a lot and also appreciates pennies. Dr Géza Orel’s basic work, A Skilful Seller's Handbook that had several editions emphasized the following: "It is most important that the moral commands of commercial life become the blood of a young merchant."Of course, it wasn’t just the laws of commercial life that preoccupied the vendors behind the counter. Choosing the right form of greeting could also puzzle sellers, because a misguided greeting — to call an older lady miss — might have resulted in saying goodbye to a potential buyer forever. If you think about it, the greeting dilemma still haunts today, but now buyers may be embarrassed. In this case, it becomes clear what a useful invention the workwear is; it at least shows who should be addressed.
Goods must be paid for at the checkout located in front of the exit
Nowadays, it is almost unthinkable, but there was a time when all the goods had to be requested from the seller behind the counter. The first self-service “közért” (grocery) was opened in 1955 on the corner of Mártírok Road (Margit Boulevard) and Bem Street in Budapest. But what was the original Közért? The abbreviation of the Municipal Food Sales Company, whose abbreviated name has become a common noun since then, and for the people of the capital it is synonymous with grocery stores.
Speaking of self-service stores, we can’t forget about “ABC” stores, which already differed in their floor space from small grocery stores. The ABC got its name from the fact that the daily necessities were available in it. It probably came from the abbreviation of Basic Purchase Items, but it is a common view that the term refers to the alphabet, as everything was available there from A to Z. The first ABC store was officially inaugurated in 1964, in the Attila József housing estate, in Budapest, and the store still operates as a grocery, but under a new name. The construction of larger ABC stores began in 1966-67, and by 1975 more than fifty had been opened to customers.
Of course, there were the previously mentioned Csemege stores (delicacies), then the stores of the Fruit and Vegetable Sales Cooperative, the Zöldért stores, the ÁFÉSZ stores, which were the stores of the General Consumption and Sales Cooperative, and the local food-retail companies, the shops of the ÉKV. Since the change of regime, ÁFÉSZ stores have become COOP stores, and Közért shops have become CBAs, named after the inversion of the letters ABC.
The self-service system was not an unanimous success, as critics were afraid that communication between buyers and sellers would disappear. They also thought that this unobtrusiveness would benefit occasional thieves. The system was extended to shoe-shops and ready-made clothes stores as well later. It seems that nowadays the future belongs to the silent sellers; not only the shops but also the cash desks are self-service already.
Translated by Zita Aknai