July 4th, 1927


FROM THE ARCHIVES:The difficulties of selling a big house in 1927 and the demeanour of shop assistants were among the topics in the “Letters to Pauline” column by “Mary” on the women’s page of the newspaper. – JOE JOYCE

DEAR PAULINE – Thanks so much for your letter. I hope that by now your house-selling worries are over. If not, advertise, my dear; it’s the only way if you want to sell to advantage. You can never expect your business to get such good attention from others as you yourself will give it; so don’t waste time trotting about to house agents – put your house on their books, of course, but after that advertise and answer other people’s advertisements: that is the only way.

It’s very difficult to sell a house with seven bedrooms, my dear – unless, of course, to people who wish to let some of the rooms. What people to-day want is a “miniature affair”. The domestic problem is so acute that the fewer servants you employ the more home comfort is obtainable.

One spare bedroom is ample for any ordinary house. In an emergency what really nice guest will object to a shake-down in the study? [. . .]

Even though you say you will not do any shopping in London, I’m sure you will not quite keep to this programme, and I envy you the thrill of the beautifully dressed windows, etc. The Dublin shops are all very busy now with sales, and, like you, I prefer to give my custom to my own country; but I do so wish that the assistants could be taught the magic of civility to, and interest in, their customers.

I don’t think the fault lies so much with the assistants as with those in control.

In London you get as much attention when purchasing a spool of thread as if you are buying up a whole department full of silks.

Here in Dublin when you enter a shop you must allow yourself plenty of time, because, of course, you’ve got to wait until it is convenient for the assistant to serve you, and then you must again wait while she endeavours to think just where the required article is stored.

If by any chance she hasn’t got what you require, she looks very disapproving, and says, “It’s not worn now,” or “There is no demand for it.”

The good business woman would say, “I’m sorry we have not this article in stock, but if you give me your address I will send it on to you by the next delivery.”

The first impression you get in the average Dublin store is that nobody there gives a hang whether you get served or go elsewhere.

This is all very wrong. Individually these assistants can be very bright and helpful, but collectively – oh, dear!

If someone set up a store in this town and trained the assistants to cheeriness, keenness, civility and common-sense, I guess that shop would be a regular gold mine in a year.

Pauline, I made a simple inquiry in a Grafton street shop last month; and – would you believe it? – ten days elapsed before I got any reply.