Welcome, burly shopkeeper! The Skyrim Better Business Bureau is proud to bring you these tips for providing the perfect retail experience. Be sure to pick up our informative brochures, conveniently available in Ruined Book format at the bottom of a 40-foot-deep frozen swamp ten days’ walk from your home or place of business.
1. The customer is always stupid
Insulting the customer is the very best way to increase sales and expand your business. Try to exceed his or her expectations; remember, many of your customers have previous experience with the master insulters of Morrowind, a land where you can kill three major deities, save the whole goddamn world, have infinite gold and a reputation of 100+, and still be greeted with an exasperated harrumph and a racial slur.
A fine example of the art is Taarie, of Radiant Raiment in the town of Solitude. What’s the secret to her success in the competitive world of high-end clothing retail? “I make sure I tell everyone I meet how awful their clothes are,” confides this prominent local businesswoman. “Sometimes I leave the shop and walk around town, just in case somebody new has arrived who needs telling. I keep a sneer on my face at all times, and I have perfected the art of slowly looking people up and down with an air of utter disbelief and disgust.”
You’re probably thinking anyone can do that. But Taarie has taken it to a whole new level. “After the customer has purchased an expensive new outfit from me,” she says, “I just keep right on doing it. They can be standing there in front of me in their brand-new Radiant Raiment clothing, and I go right ahead and tell them how bad they look in it. It’s a subtle effect, but over time, it can truly power-attack the soul and critical-strike the self esteem. I want every customer to leave my store knowing that I personally hate them, and that they fully deserve that hate. Because that’s what customer service is all about.”
2. Your only joke: it’s even funnier the 42,897th time
Even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible to be insulting 24/7. Take up the slack by cultivating a creepy, obnoxious personality. Belethor, a Breton immigrant who runs a general goods store in Whiterun, says humor is the key. “I came up with a great line about selling my own relatives, and I use it all the time. I guarantee nobody will get out of my store without hearing it at least twice on every single visit, and I stand by that guarantee. I also worked hard to develop a noise that sounds like an ungodly cross between snorting, laughing, and clearing my throat, which I use regularly in conversation to drive my customers into a crazed frenzy of pure loathing. If incest-slavery isn’t funny, then I just don’t know what is! HNYUKKHaah.”
A courteous farewell is also important. “As they’re leaving, I say ‘Come back any time’ in a terrifyingly sleazy voice,” says Belethor, who has been brutally murdered 19,000 times this week alone by customers who created a save point solely for that purpose. “It’s important to time it just right, so they get a vague, uncomfortable feeling that you might be staring at their ass on their way out the door. HNYUKKHaah.”
3. Have a firm and relentless deathwish
So far, it’s easy to sum up the best practices for doing business in Skyrim: one, make the customer want to kill themself, and two, make the customer want to kill you. But to achieve both of these things, you need the right attitude. Remind yourself constantly that when 100% of your customer base consists of muscular, violent people who openly carry six-foot-tall swords and dress in armor made from the bones of their victims, being rude to them is just plain common sense.
4. Hygiene regulations for food and beverage sales
Thanks to the foresight of King Oystein Bacterium-Befriender during the Third Age, there are no hygiene laws in Skyrim. Feel free to purchase that “gently used” cabbage which your supplier found in a pile of bloodstained sewage at the bottom of an abandoned mine, and to resell it four years later to your valued customers. We are talking about people who routinely eat thistles, antlers, and live bees just to see what will happen. They will be fine.