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THE STYLE FILES: THE PLAYERS : More People Who Never Make Headlines : The Best Seller : NATALIE VIGIL, Top salesperson at Clothestime: "I no longer assume that a man coming into the store is buying something for his wife or girlfriend."

March 16, 1994|WILLIAM KISSEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OK, so Natalie Vigil smiles a lot. And yes, she always asks the dreaded question, "Can I help you?" But unlike some retail salesclerks, Vigil knows how to take a hint.

"You can tell by their expression or the way they say 'hi' to you," says Vigil, who, at 22, is one of the top-dollar sales associates for the 542-store, Anaheim-based Clothestime chain. "Sometimes they'll say, 'Oh, I'm just browsing' in a way that you know they want to be left alone."

That wasn't the case with a transvestite who wandered into the South Pasadena store where Vigil works. He wanted a pair of leggings.

"He insisted on trying them on," she says. "But we couldn't let him into the fitting room because there were a lot of ladies in there." Unwilling to let a potential sale walk out the door, Vigil took him to the store's bathroom and stood guard outside while he tried them on. The man bought six pairs. Now, she says, "I no longer assume that a man coming into the store is buying something for his wife or girlfriend."

On a typical day, Vigil sells something to one out of every three shoppers. That translates to about $6,000 worth of merchandise a week.

Her secrets include friendliness, assertiveness and attentiveness. Avoid at all costs, she says, wandering eyes, yawns and the dreaded dancing feet. Vigil plans to attend law school; until then, she will practice her considerable powers of persuasion.

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