In the early 1990s I was working my way through college in a national shoe chain known for its inexpensive shoes. The most expensive pair we sold was $50. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be alone on shift. One day I open, which among other things involves marking the weekly sale items with these sticky green cardboard tags that would hang off the edge of the box, displaying the sale price ($5, $10, etc). The original thought with these tags is that they could be reused, so they are almost the stickiness of post-its. I open up, take the old sale tags down, put the new sale tags on, and wait for customers. Half an hour after I finish, the first customer of the day comes in.
She heads directly for the women’s 8 1/2s and after greeting her I let her browse and try on stuff in peace. 10 or so minutes later, she’s brought a pair of shoes up to the register to check out. I immediately notice the $19.99 shoes have a $5 tag on it — and I know I did not put it there, nor has this style ever been on sale (no possibility I missed taking a tag off).
I ring her up; gee, what a surprise. It’s $19.99. She protests, demanding the “sale price.” I shake my head, saying no. She continues to protest but is losing steam over my wall of no. Finally I sigh and let her know I just tagged the items on sale that morning, she was the only one in so far, and I could check the video footage (gesturing towards the wall mounted curved mirror in the corner), but I was pretty sure the tag just happened to fall off and into the box below, right?
She turns pale, pays, and leaves. I go back to the aisle and she’s moved half the tags around, probably in an effort to bolster her story. It mystifies me to this day why anyone would risk a class one misdemeanor for theft, which carries up to $1,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail, to get a cheap pair of shoes.
The company eventually made the glue on the back of the tags too strong for would-be thieves to try this stunt. The real kicker to this: we, as wasn’t unusual at the time, didn’t have a security camera. The mirror was just that — a mirror.