When we were teens my sister and I had a favorite place to shop for Christmas presents. We walked downtown and checked out the Merle Norman store. Upon entering this small shop we were met by walls and glass counters full of special gifts in addition to make-up and cologne. The assortment included such things as pretty boxes, jewelry and figurines such as Hummels. In the 1960's no other store in our city of 20,000 came close to having the gift selection that this place had.
Something else was missing in the other shops. At Merle Norman every sales girl had the same slow, soft-spoken manner. It was positively hypnotizing. We would shop there just to experience the ambiance.
Their sales technique was best displayed while packing a purchased gift in a white box. It was slowly opened by lingering fingers adorned with long, lacquered nails. We watched as each box flap was pulled out meticulously, all the while absorbing the relaxed, almost soporific feeling that came over us. Tissue paper was carefully retrieved and gently patted into the box, accompanied by a soft, crinkly sound . By this time we were completely enchanted and mesmerized; we would have bought lots more, means permitting.
We call this the "Merle Norman Technique". My sister can do a great imitation of it. It requires a slow pace, soft voice, nice nails (clicking nails really help), and lots of that soft, crinkly paper noise . The latter will send people over the edge!
The shop has been gone for many years. My hometown was hard hit by the recession in the seventies and never completely recovered. Now it is a Wal-Mart town, with local businesses hobbling along. Merle Norman went a-malling, and is now a delectable memory!